General Horse Slaughter Info

The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated. ~ Mahatma Gandhi

Truthfully, this is the most difficult page for me to write.  It’s hard to remain strictly factual and statistical about an issue I’m actually quite passionate about.

That being said…

Horses are routinely slaughtered for meat by the tens of thousands every year.  That meat is sent overseas (for the most part) for human consumption.  There are a few pockets of people across Canada and the States who eat horse meat, but the demand is relatively small.  Certainly much smaller than the demand overseas, where approximately 90% of all horse meat is sent.

Several years ago the last three horse slaughter houses in the United States were closed down.  Not because people demanded we not slaughter horses for consumption overseas, but mainly for environmental considerations (I’m putting it mildly, see this news article and letter from the mayor of a town protesting the reopening of a horse slaughter plant).

Since the closure of horse slaughter houses in the States, horses have continued to be slaughtered… they’ve been shipped to Canada and Mexico (see chart below).  Generally speaking, horses are flight animals (the best reference I’ve heard is to compare them to deer) so are much more difficult to kill on the first hit with the captive bolt gun (or any gun in this situation).

(Chart info from Animal Welfare Institute)

Year # Horses Slaughtered in US # Horses Sent to Mexico # Horses Set to Canada Totals
2009 0 31,584 31,140 62,724
2008 0 56,731 42,232 98,963
2007 29,761 45,609 45,828 121,198
2006 104,899 11,080 26,421 142,400

Horses are often not killed on the first hit.  They thrash about and really, the process is quite distressing.  If you want to see video, please go to Shark Online and review testimony and video.

Many, many horses that are sold at auction are sold to “meat buyers” or “kill buyers” (some statistics place the numbers at greater than 75%).  These kill buyers, or KBs, have a job – buy horses as cheap as they can and transport them to Canada or Mexico where they make money (dollar / pound) on the horses.  The horses often are either shipped straight to the slaughter house, or they are moved to a “farm” to fatten them up a bit on pasture.  For the horses that are purchased by the KB at auction and shipped direct to slaughter – they’ve already had their last meal.  Whatever their owner fed them before dropping them off was their last meal.  Horses are not fed or watered on the trip, upwards of several days, because being hungry and thirty keeps them calmer.  They are transported on double-decker trucks meant for cattle who are much shorter.  Horses have to keep their heads very low, straining their necks and backs.  Too many are on the truck, and fights break out.  Horses collapse – whether from hunger and thirst or from injuries sustained during the trip – and are trampled.

Once at the slaughter plant, horses again are rarely fed or watered.  Depending on where the plant is located (Canada or Mexico) the slaughter process can vary – but it is extremely unpleasant for the horse.  Again, go to Shark Online (link above) if you would like to learn more about the process.

This page is a work in progress…

If you would like to read more about the slaughter issue, please review the following pages:

Not a Breed

Any post from RT Fitch

American Horse Defense Fund has a great Q&A regarding slaughter

  1. General Horse Slaughter Info « Re-Home Your Horse | Stop Horse Abuse
  2. General Horse Slaughter Info « Re-Home Your Horse | Horse Book Reviews
  3. The Human Scavenger «

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