Owner and Veterinarian Perceptions of Equine Euthanasia and Mortality Composting

Hannah L Lochner, Krishona L. Martinson, Alex W. Bianco, Mark L. Hutchinson, Melissa L. Wilson, Lee J. Johnston, Katherine E. Dentzman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Challenges associated with burial, rendering, and cremation have forced horse owners to seek alternative mortality disposal methods. While equine mortality composting has been successfully demonstrated, industry-wide adoption has been limited. Therefore, evaluation of horse owners’ and veterinarians’ perceptions and experience with mortality composting is needed. Two surveys were developed to evaluate industry practices and decisive factors regarding equine euthanasia and mortality disposal methods. Each survey was designed for a separate audience: horse owners or veterinarians serving equines. The surveys were advertised as weblinks on relevant Facebook pages, e-newsletters, and email listservs. Data were analyzed using bivariate and multivariate models for associations and factors influencing decisions surrounding composting. The surveys yielded 1,225 and 244 usable responses from horse owners and veterinarians, respectively. Respondent demographics were consistent with previous survey reports for horse owners and veterinarians in the United States with a majority being female between 41 and 60 years of age with long-term industry involvement. Horse owners (86%) and veterinarians (84%) that preferred chemical euthanasia tended to prefer burial (58% and 42%, respectively) over other mortality disposal methods. Only 12% of horse owner respondents had ever tried composting and only 25% of veterinarian respondents had ever recommended composting. Horse owner (47%) and veterinarian (67%) respondents indicated they would be more open to trying and recommending mortality composting if more scientific research were available. Equine mortality composting shows potential as a primary disposal method for the equine industry. Research and educational programs are key to industry-wide acceptance of equine mortality composting.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number103402
JournalJournal of Equine Veterinary Science
StatePublished - Apr 1 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Funding for this project was provided by the Rapid Agricultural Response Fund, established by the Minnesota Legislature and administered by the University of Minnesota Agricultural Experiment Station .

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 Elsevier Inc.


  • Carcass disposal
  • Composting
  • End-of-life decision making
  • Euthanasia
  • Survey

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't


Dive into the research topics of 'Owner and Veterinarian Perceptions of Equine Euthanasia and Mortality Composting'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this