Survey reveals lack of strangles screening at livery yards

A majority of horse owners want livery yards to have a strangles testing policy in place for new arrivals, a survey has revealed.

Redwings have released a summary of their strangles report (Pic: Redwings)

Redwings have released a summary of their strangles report (Pic: Redwings)

The survey, conducted by the equine charity Redwings, found that only 13% of respondents who kept their horses on a livery yard had their horses screened for strangles upon arrival.

Despite this, 51% of respondents said they were ‘very likely’ and 28.8% said they were ‘likely’ to want to use a yard that had a policy of strangles testing for new arrivals.

The results indicate a desire from horse owners for a change in strangles policies on livery yards.

In conclusion to the findings, the report said: “These results suggest that although screening of new arrivals doesn’t currently occur on many yards, there is the desire for change from horse owners. This information together with the qualitative information on quarantining new arrivals suggests that if yard managers changed yard policies to improve their biosecurity this move would be welcomed by horse owners.

“This survey didn’t specifically cover the views of yard owners/managers, but conceivably they could be concerned about resistance to change or losing custom by introducing new biosecurity policies. This information may be useful to allay those fears or at the least start a discussion between managers and clients about biosecurity.”

Commenting further on the results, Andie Vilela, Redwings' Education and Campaigns Manager, said: “In the last 5 years alone our screening protocol at Redwings has enabled us to identify 47 strangles carriers – as well as protecting our herds from other infectious disease. Screening is a fundamental part of running a yard.

"We were shocked that only 13% of respondents on livery yards in our survey had any kind of screening process on their yards despite clear demand from owners who say that they would want to use a yard with screening policy for new arrivals.

"Moreover, horse owners seem willing to pull together on the issue with an overwhelming 80% agreeing that they’d be willing to pay to have their own horse tested to know its strangles status so that effective screening could be put in place for new arrivals.

"Systematic identification and treatment of strangles carriers on yards could eradicate the disease alongside full treatment and testing so new cases do not become carriers. We’ll be working with yards in 2017 as part of our #StampOutStrangles campaign to do this”

The survey, called the Redwings Strangles Survey, investigated a variety of aspects of strangles and horse owners’ knowledge of the disease, including whether owners would recognise the symptoms of strangles, how long a horse should be quarantined for as well as how the disease is managed at their yard.

Over 4700 people took part in the survey, of which 2002 respondents completed the questionnaire in full.

Currently, only a summary of the findings has been published, with the full results being launched in the New Year. In collaboration with the University of Liverpool, the full results will give a more detailed interpretation of the results, key findings and analysis.

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