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Animal to caregiver ratios - Weigh in!

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  • Animal to caregiver ratios - Weigh in!

    *Edited for some clarity as I think there is a lot of overthinking about this. If you were describing your farm to a person who has never been to a horse farm, had no idea any of the work required. If you stated I have 40 horses at my farm to this person, they would probably say something like wow that's a lot, how do you take care of it all? You would likely respond with oh I have some help, Jerry and Tammy work for me. So there are 3 caregivers for your 40 horses. That's all I am looking for and all the information I need.

    I am hoping the COTH community can help me with a little project I am working on. I have been set with the task of trying to determine an industry-standard or average as it relates to the number of animals to caregivers. The best way I see to do this is to poll the equine community. I have letters out to some of the larger farms in the US, but I feel like this community is such a mix bag that it would be an ideal place to collect some information. The information will be used to determine a new recommended ratio in horse care within a large animal sanctuary. You are welcome to leave off the name and location of your business. What I am most interested in is the numbers. Would you help?

    *optional*Location (City, State):
    Type (Boarding, training, breeding, etc):
    Are you open to the public for tours?
    The average number of equine:
    The number of care staff(barn hands, grooms, on staff vets/farrier, maintenance, anyone directly caring for the animals or property):
    Do you have an intern (working student) or volunteer program? The average number of interns/volunteers at any given time?
    The number of administrative staff (office managers, accountants, etc):

    I do ask that you try to stick to the form as it will make going through responses easier. You are also welcome to message the information privately rather than post it here. It can remain anonymous in my report. Most farms are declining to identify themselves which is perfectly fine! The ratios are really what I am concerned about.

    Thank you!
    Last edited by SaluteAtXTX; Mar. 20, 2020, 02:16 PM.

  • #2
    Does 2 parttime people count as 1 fulltime?
    I wouldn't ask for name of facility.
    What does "tours" mean?
    Boarders may use different farriers/vets, so your numbers may not be comparable between types of facilities.
    Accountants/etc are often NOT employees; does that matter?
    Does "intern" include working students?

    Comment

    • Original Poster

      #3
      Originally posted by xQHDQ View Post
      Does 2 parttime people count as 1 fulltime?
      I wouldn't ask for name of facility.
      What does "tours" mean?
      Boarders may use different farriers/vets, so your numbers may not be comparable between types of facilities.
      Accountants/etc are often NOT employees; does that matter?
      Does "intern" include working students?
      The name and location of the facility are completely voluntary.

      Staff can be part time or full time and will count the same.

      Many larger breeding farms, rescues, and sanctuaries offer tours through the facility.

      I would only be interested in employees that are on the farm's payroll. For example, if the farm employed its own veterinarian, farrier, bookkeepers, etc.. If those are contracted positions they would not be included.

      Working students would be an intern, I will update that to be clear.

      Comment


      • #4
        This is a meaningless question without considering the level of care. I am at a large self board barn. There is basically a one to one ratio of horse to owner. That's the extreme.

        How many people you need to do the basics like muck stalls and feed depends in large part on (a) your feeding schedule; (b) your equipment; (c) the layout of the property; and ,(d) your bedding.

        Ten horses in a field with a round bale is different from ten horses in stalls that need daily turnout and hay 4 times a day and a night check.

        How much grooming is necessary? What do you include under care?

        There is no set ratio.

        I am sure most barns contract out vet and farrier and body work unless the barn manager is also by coincidence a farrier or body worker. I would expect book keeping to be done either by barn manager or contracted out. There isn't really work for a full time book keeper. I wouldn't consider any of these as part of the ratio of people to horse care.

        Depending on the health and energy of your staff, I would say you probably want one barn worker for every ten horses in a barn that is doing stalls/ daily turnout, and multiple feedings. One person might do 20 stalls in the morning, someone else might do turnin and night feed for 20 horses. It's not necessarily multiple people on the same shift.

        That does not include grooming or longeing or working with the horses. You would need another full time position minimum for every ten horses to get attention every day.

        Comment


        • #5
          trying to determine an industry-standard or average as it relates to the number of animals to caregivers.
          the Standard is always too many animals and not enough caregivers.

          Some Horses could be confused with pigs or destruction artiest thus require more than a given Standard, other horses you never see and they are content not requiring any human assistance .... there really is not a direct correlation or ratio of number head to number of caregivers other than always need more caregivers

          Comment


          • #6
            There is no industry-wide standard. You can't lump all horse facilities into one category and expect to collect meaningful data.

            Your best shot at collecting meaningful data is to target specific types of facilities and do separate analyses for the different types. And even then, your standard deviation is probably going to be pretty big.
            "Facts are meaningless. You can use facts to prove anything
            that's even remotely true."

            Homer Simpson

            Comment

            • Original Poster

              #7
              I do understand the challenges of this project. There are many variables that do exist. I am very much maintaining it at the basic levels. How many animals to how many caregivers regardless of the level of care. I do believe some are overthinking this.

              Unfortunately, I am in a unique position where I need to prove staffing needs based on an industry that does have so many variables without any standard. For example, with zoo animals, there are guidelines for how many staff members are required. For farm animals like horses, cows, goats, sheep, etc those numbers do not exist. This is difficult in a larger organization when staffing needs are determined by someone unfamiliar with the actual care required (and not on the same site). So in order to set a future standard for the organization its necessary to determine industry averages and be comparable. Maybe the term industry norms is more applicable.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by SaluteAtXTX View Post
                So in order to set a future standard for the organization its necessary to determine industry averages and be comparable.
                one-to-one seems realistic, at least that is what our horse Bonnie the primadonna insists upon

                Comment


                • #9
                  Can you add questions to the form? Mainly outdoor board vs indoor board.

                  It’s possible for one person to move round bales to 40 horses every couple days, especially with auto waterers.

                  One person certainly isn’t doing grain, turnout, mucking, and blankets for 40 horses.

                  Comment

                  • Original Poster

                    #10
                    Edited the top as well for some clarity as I think there is a lot of overthinking about this. If you were describing your farm to a person who has never been to a horse farm, had no idea any of the work required. If you stated I have 40 horses at my farm to this person, they would probably say something like wow that's a lot, how do you take care of it all? You would likely respond with oh I have some help, Jerry and Tammy work for me. So there are 3 caregivers for your 40 horses. That's all I am looking for and all the information I need.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      *optional*Location (City, State):
                      Florida
                      Type (Boarding, training, breeding, etc):
                      Boarding
                      Are you open to the public for tours?
                      No
                      The average number of equine:
                      6-8
                      The number of care staff(barn hands, grooms, on staff vets/farrier, maintenance, anyone directly caring for the animals or property):
                      One (myself) (vet and farrier aren't "on staff")
                      Do you have an intern (working student) or volunteer program? The average number of interns/volunteers at any given time?
                      None
                      The number of administrative staff (office managers, accountants, etc):
                      None in addition to care staff (all just myself)
                      Custom tack racks!
                      www.mmeqcenter.com/tacklove.html

                      Comment

                      • Original Poster

                        #12
                        Originally posted by mmeqcenter View Post
                        *optional*Location (City, State):
                        Florida
                        Type (Boarding, training, breeding, etc):
                        Boarding
                        Are you open to the public for tours?
                        No
                        The average number of equine:
                        6-8
                        The number of care staff(barn hands, grooms, on staff vets/farrier, maintenance, anyone directly caring for the animals or property):
                        One (myself) (vet and farrier aren't "on staff")
                        Do you have an intern (working student) or volunteer program? The average number of interns/volunteers at any given time?
                        None
                        The number of administrative staff (office managers, accountants, etc):
                        None in addition to care staff (all just myself)
                        Perfect! Thank you :-)

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          [QUOTE=mmeqcenter;n10603561]*optional*Location (City, State):
                          South Bend, Indiana
                          Type (Boarding, training, breeding, etc):
                          Boarding. Have an in-house trainer who boards and gives lessons, but she is a client not my employee.
                          Are you open to the public for tours?
                          Yes, by arrangement
                          The average number of equine:
                          11
                          The number of care staff(barn hands, grooms, on staff vets/farrier, maintenance, anyone directly caring for the animals or property):
                          One (myself) part time (vet and farrier aren't "on staff") (and I have another part time job)
                          Do you have an intern (working student) or volunteer program? The average number of interns/volunteers at any given time?
                          None
                          The number of administrative staff (office managers, accountants, etc):
                          None in addition to care staff (all just myself)

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Location (City, State):
                            MA
                            Type (Boarding, training, breeding, etc):
                            Boarding
                            Are you open to the public for tours?
                            No
                            The average number of equine:
                            18
                            The number of care staff(barn hands, grooms, on staff vets/farrier, maintenance, anyone directly caring for the animals or property):
                            2 full time daytime, plus a night check person who lives on the farm, and an extra stall cleaner on Sunday mornings. Weekends have some part-timers and the 2 FT each are there for 1 day. When I first moved my horse there, there was also a woman who'd come in really early to feed breakfast.
                            Do you have an intern (working student) or volunteer program? The average number of interns/volunteers at any given time?
                            No
                            The number of administrative staff (office managers, accountants, etc):
                            None

                            The barn has a high standard for cleanliness and individualized horse care, horses out for 6-8 hours every day, paddocks picked daily, arena dragged daily, etc. (I don't own this place, but I don't think the BO or any of the other boarders are on COTH.)
                            You have to have experiences to gain experience.

                            1998 Morgan mare Mythic Feronia "More Valley Girl Than Girl Scout!"

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by SaluteAtXTX View Post
                              Unfortunately, I am in a unique position where I need to prove staffing needs based on an industry that does have so many variables without any standard. For example, with zoo animals, there are guidelines for how many staff members are required. For farm animals like horses, cows, goats, sheep, etc those numbers do not exist. This is difficult in a larger organization when staffing needs are determined by someone unfamiliar with the actual care required (and not on the same site). So in order to set a future standard for the organization its necessary to determine industry averages and be comparable.
                              If you had just explained this in the first place, you wouldn't have gotten the "this is a meaningless question" replies and you wouldn't have had to accuse us of "overthinking."

                              *optional*Location (City, State): NC

                              Type (Boarding, training, breeding, etc): Boarding

                              Are you open to the public for tours? No

                              The average number of equine: 18

                              The number of care staff(barn hands, grooms, on staff vets/farrier, maintenance, anyone directly caring for the animals or property): 3

                              Do you have an intern (working student) or volunteer program? No

                              The average number of interns/volunteers at any given time? None

                              The number of administrative staff (office managers, accountants, etc): None
                              "Facts are meaningless. You can use facts to prove anything
                              that's even remotely true."

                              Homer Simpson

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                *optional*Location (City, State):
                                MI

                                Type (Boarding, training, breeding, etc):
                                Hobby Farm

                                Are you open to the public for tours?
                                No

                                The average number of equine:
                                9

                                The number of care staff(barn hands, grooms, on staff vets/farrier, maintenance, anyone directly caring for the animals or property):
                                Husband and I share chores. We get a horse sitter in occasionally when we need to go places. Husband is the Farrier. Horses are all stalled daily, with 10 to 16 hours (seasonal changes) turnout daily. Winter conditions will add to time needed for chores and horse care.

                                Do you have an intern (working student) or volunteer program? The average number of interns/volunteers at any given time?
                                No

                                The number of administrative staff (office managers, accountants, etc):
                                No staff, just us two.




                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  I've been at several barns with various staff differences.
                                  A six horse barn with six people (co-op set up)
                                  A 25 horse barn with one person
                                  a 25-30 horse upper level event barn with 2 full staff and 1-2 working students
                                  a 40 horse barn with 4 people
                                  a 20 horse therapeutic riding program with 4 full time horse care staff, 3 office help, 3 part time staff (mainly instructors or therapists) and 80+ volunteers in a given week, plus a summer intern. Plus a board of directors. This was the only barn open to the public.

                                  In my experience it seems like most barns up to about 30 horses have the following people
                                  barn owner, who may or may not be involved with caring for horses and/or property.
                                  barn manager, sometimes also barn owner but usually is a seperate person at larger properties.
                                  0-4 rotating staff that alternates feedings, cleaning stalls, etc. Number depends on staff availability less than actual workload.
                                  Depending on duties of BO/BM, sometimes a property manager taking care of the fields, fencing, etc.

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    Snipped for brevity. Practices when we ran the barn, vice leased to tenants. Most remain the same under multiple tenants.

                                    Originally posted by SaluteAtXTX View Post

                                    *optional*Location (City, State):

                                    East TN.

                                    Type (Boarding, training, breeding, etc):

                                    Boarding, training, breeding, lessons.

                                    Are you open to the public for tours?

                                    Yes

                                    The average number of equine: 25-30 (stallion; brood mares; youngsters; lesson horses).

                                    The number of care staff(barn hands, grooms, on staff vets/farrier, maintenance, anyone directly caring for the animals or property): 1 trainer/instructor. .75 barn hand/groom. Vet, Farrier, etc. by open market purchase.

                                    Do you have an intern (working student) or volunteer program? The average number of interns/volunteers at any given time? No

                                    The number of administrative staff (office managers, accountants, etc): 1 (me).

                                    I do ask that you try to stick to the form as it will make going through responses easier. You are also welcome to message the information privately rather than post it here. It can remain anonymous in my report. Most farms are declining to identify themselves which is perfectly fine! The ratios are really what I am concerned about.

                                    Thank you!
                                    G.
                                    Mangalarga Marchador: Uma Raa, Uma Paixo

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      I think the biggest challenge you are going to have is that you seem to be comparing apples to oranges:

                                      I am hoping the COTH community can help me with a little project I am working on. I have been set with the task of trying to determine an industry-standard or average as it relates to the number of animals to caregivers. The best way I see to do this is to poll the equine community. I have letters out to some of the larger farms in the US, but I feel like this community is such a mix bag that it would be an ideal place to collect some information. The information will be used to determine a new recommended ratio in horse care within a large animal sanctuary. You are welcome to leave off the name and location of your business. What I am most interested in is the numbers. Would you help?

                                      Animal sanctuaries are not, in my experience, particularly similar to boarding barns.

                                      Sanctuaries may have "visitors" - my guess is yours will, as you ask about being open to the public. Most boarding operations only entertain the public when they visit to inquire about becoming clients. There is rarely any "spectator" activity.

                                      Sanctuary animals do not come with private owners who will regularly require services and attention, whereas that is pretty much the definition of service at a boarding facility, and the staffing will reflect that.

                                      I would really think zoo related ratios would be more appropriate for such a use case, but in case I am wrong, I have filled in the requested information for you.


                                      Type (Boarding, training, breeding, etc): Small private dressage facility
                                      Are you open to the public for tours? Not open to the public for any reason
                                      The average number of equine: 3-4
                                      The number of care staff(barn hands, grooms, on staff vets/farrier, maintenance, anyone directly caring for the animals or property): 2
                                      Do you have an intern (working student) or volunteer program? The average number of interns/volunteers at any given time? No
                                      The number of administrative staff (office managers, accountants, etc): 1
                                      **********
                                      We move pretty fast for some rabid garden snails.
                                      -PaulaEdwina

                                      Comment


                                      • #20


                                        *optional*Location (City, State): OR

                                        Type (Boarding, training, breeding, etc): Training

                                        Are you open to the public for tours? No

                                        The average number of equine: 28 to 30

                                        The number of care staff(barn hands, grooms, on staff vets/farrier, maintenance, anyone directly caring for the animals or property): 5

                                        Do you have an intern (working student) or volunteer program? The average number of interns/volunteers at any given time? No

                                        The number of administrative staff (office managers, accountants, etc): 1

                                        (this is my trainers barn not mine)



                                        Comment

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