Year of Publication

2013

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Document Type

Master's Thesis

College

Agriculture

Department

Agricultural Economics

First Advisor

Dr. C. Jill Stowe

Abstract

Parasite control is important to horse health and horse owners should feel highly concerned about the proper treatment of parasites. In the past 30 years, veterinary science has made important advances in treating parasites and provided new products and strategies to optimize treatment and prevention. However, horse owners and managers have been slow to adopt these new recommendations.

This study investigates why the transition has not occurred as expected. It examines issues related to the decision-making process of horse owners and managers as they relate to deworming strategies. In addition, it investigates current deworming approaches as well as attitudes towards alternative parasite control strategies, and tries to describe the financial considerations corresponding to each strategy.

To this end, a questionnaire was distributed to Thoroughbred farms in Kentucky. The first part of the questionnaire examined the actual approaches of farm managers and characterized the Kentucky Thoroughbred farms. Most farm managers appear to be concerned about drug resistance in parasites and incorporated veterinarian advice in defining their deworming program; however, almost three-quarters of them were still following the traditional rotational deworming program. Based on a conjoint experiment, we were able to evaluate the willingness-to-pay of farm managers for different attributes of a deworming strategy – time and effort spent, decrease in health risks, drug resistance in parasites, and price. The study showed that farm managers were willing to pay a premium for a strategy that is guaranteed “non-resistant” and that decreased health risk by 5%, while they expected a discount for a strategy that requires much time and effort.

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