I receive all kinds of inquiries here at Commerce Lexington. My position as Research Director makes me a catch-all for any kind of question that people can come up with about Lexington or the surrounding area.
Being that we are in the Bluegrass, I received a question this week about how many horses there are in Fayette County. I had absolutely no clue – the US Census Bureau is generally concerned with humans – so I had to ask for help.
Luckily, the great people at the Kentucky Horse Council were able to track down some information for me. Turns out, the US government IS concerned with more than humans, but instead of looking through the Census Bureau, I had to look at the Department of Agriculture. Sure enough, every five years, the USDA does a Census of Agriculture. You can find Kentucky’s results HERE.
The USDA says we have 14,121 horses and ponies in Fayette County. This is just the start, however. The USDA only records data on “farms.” A “farm” to the USDA is any place from which $1,000 or more of agricultural products were produced and sold, or normally would have been sold, during the census year. The great people at the Kentucky Horse Council were able to estimate (along with help from the state) that in every county except Fayette, you can add another 40% to the USDA number to include the number of smaller farms with horses. Because Fayette County is such a unique county, they estimate that only another 20% can be added on for smaller farms.
This gives us a grand total of 16,945 horses and ponies in Fayette County. With a 2007 population of 279,044 humans, that means that there is a horse or pony for every 16.5 people in Lexington.
Coincidentally, Fayette County ranks #1 in the state for the number of horses and ponies. That number also makes it #5 in the nation – I’m still trying to figure out who in the world the other four counties are.
Not surprisingly, even though there are four other counties in the US with more horses and ponies, Fayette County is #1 in terms of sales. Well, technically, it is sales of horses, ponies, mules, burros, and donkeys but I’m guessing the mules, burros, and donkeys aren’t much of that total.