Results of 2010 Maryland Equine Census Announced

County-level data collected from Maryland's 2010 Equine Census revealed an industry with assets valued at $5.6 billion and expenditures just under $513 million. There are approximately 81,000 equines in Maryland that are housed in over 16,040 locations around the state. The two largest equine counties are Prince George's and Baltimore at 9,000 and 8,950 head respectively. Equine operations account for a total of 587,000 acres, of which 188,000 acres are devoted to equine and 88,000 acres are enrolled in land preservation programs.

"These data show the significant value and size of the equine industry in Maryland and serve as confirmation of the economic importance of this viable industry to the State," said Governor Martin O'Malley. "We are committed to fostering Maryland's equine industry and doing all we can to protect the thousands of jobs that depend on our rich history of horse racing and recreational riding."

The number of equine animals in Maryland decreased 7% from the 87,100 on hand in 2002. The value of the equine inventory on May 1, 2010, was just over $746 million, up 10% from 2002. The number of equine places throughout Maryland decreased 21% from 2002 and includes boarding facilities, commercial and private breeding places, farms, commercial race related places, and private residence where recreational equine are kept.

"Governor O'Malley has taken a keen interest in Maryland's equine industry and this census validates its vibrant economic and cultural importance," said Jim Steele, chair of the Maryland Horse Industry Board (MHIB) and manager of Shamrock Farm in Woodbine. "The numbers reflect what we expected to see based on the current economic climate. The data show the importance of the industry as a whole from race horses to the pleasure-riding segment."

The 2010 equine census is the second official count of all breeds (horses, ponies, donkeys, mules, and burros) in Maryland. The first census results were announced in 2002. The MHIB commissioned the USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service field office in Annapolis to conduct both efforts. The most recent census is a more in-depth questionnaire that collected new information including labor and wages and a breakdown of equine-related expenditures by category (such as capital or operating costs).

"The results of the 2010 Maryland Equine Census help illustrate growing trends throughout industry, both at the County- and State-level," said Barbara Rater, state director of USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service, Maryland Field Office in Annapolis. "It shows the economic scope and importance of the industry in Maryland."

Census forms were mailed in April 2010, to more than 24,000 potential equine owners and stable operators in all segments of the industry from racing to recreational riding. The census asked for information on the sale of horses, land area allocated to equine uses, number of horses owned, expenditures, and value of assets. The results reflect the number of equine animals in Maryland on May 1, 2010, and expenditures and assets during the 2009 calendar year.

Racehorse breeds (Thoroughbreds and Standardbreds) account for 39% of all breeds. Light breeds such as the Arabian and Quarter Horse, most commonly associated with recreational and non-racing competitive activities make up 49% of all breeds. Draft breeds, ponies, mules, donkeys, and burros comprise the balance (12%) of the 81,000 animals.

For a copy of the census data as presented to the MHIB is available online.

Disclaimer: Seek the advice of a qualified veterinarian before proceeding with any diagnosis, treatment, or therapy.

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