Slaughter Fact Sheet From The Fund For Horses

Slaughter USA: Fact Sheet - The Fund for Horses

Slaughter USA: Fact Sheet

On This Page

* Introduction.
* Why does this industry still exist?
* How many horses are slaughtered in the United States?
* What types of horses are slaughtered?
* Where do the horses come from?
* How are the horses slaughtered?
* If slaughtered is banned, where will all the horses go?
* If horse slaughter is banned, won't abuse and neglect increase?


One of the most baffling issues surrounding the equine world, and one that many Americans are still unaware of, is that every week in this country our young, healthy horses are slaughtered for human consumption overseas. The largest number are Quarter Horses, although Thoroughbred race horses, and even some of our wild Mustangs are routinely slaughtered. Their meat is processed, freeze packed and shipped to countries like Belgium, France, Italy and Japan, where it is considered a delicacy.

Why does this industry still exist?

Horse slaughter exists in the United States for one reason and one reason only — for the sole purpose of providing horsemeat for human consumption in foreign markets.

Although the number of horses slaughtered declined sharply for a period of years, there has been a recent resurgence in demand. Horse meat is viewed as "clean meat" and a good alternative to beef and other traditional meats because of BSE and other contamination scares. Europeans and Asians who consume horse flesh are willing to pay a high price for American horsemeat, which is described by butchers and purveyors of horsemeat as the very best on the market.

"I only buy American meat, which is red and firm. In butchering terms we call it 'well-structured', the best you can get. Out of a thousand animals, only the American ones are really worth buying. But they don't eat horsemeat in America. They raise horses for foreigners."

A Butcher in France.

Conseqently, business is thriving for the three foreign-owned slaughter plants operating in the U.S., two in Texas and the other in Illinois. If current trends continue, it is highly likely that demand is only going to increase and so is the slaughtering of our horses.

How many horses are slaughtered in the United States?

According to the USDA, more than 50,000 horses were slaughtered in 2003. With the re-opening of Cavel International in Illinois in 2004, the number rose to more than 66,000, and in 2005, nearly 95,000 of our horses were slaughtered for their meat.

This does not include the approximately 20,000 - 30,000 horses that are exported to Mexico to be slaughtered in their abattoirs, or the thousands exported to Canada.

Together, these numbers represent about 1% of the total number of horses in the U.S., and the entire industry is only .001% of the size of the U.S. meat industry.

What types of horses are being slaughtered? Aren't these old, sick horses?

According to 2001 field studies conducted by Temple Grandin et al., 70% of all horses at the slaughter plant were in good, fat, or obese condition; 72% were considered to be "sound" of limb; 84% were of average age; and 96% had no behavioral issues. Slaughter plants do not want old, sick horses for obvious reasons.

Where do the horses come from?

Horses are not raised for slaughter as they are not traditional food animals, so they must be bought. Licensed horse dealers, known as "killer buyers," act as middlemen for the slaughterhouses and frequent the auctions where horses are sold. Mass quantities of horses are bought by these dealers at unbelievably cheap prices, who then transport the horses and resell them to the slaughterhouses for profit. Many times an auction house and the dealer will not turn away an unfit animal, because as long as it can live till it gets to a slaughterhouse, they can be killed for their hides. These horses are called "skinners." Slaughterhouses typically have a tannery either on site or nearby for this reason.

A number of the horses who end up at slaughterhouses are stolen, and can disappear without a trace. However, statistics from one of the largest groups that assist owners in the recovery of their stolen horses, Stolen Horse International (netposse.org) show that approximately 60% of stolen horses are killed at slaughter plants.

How are the horses actually slaughtered?

Horses are transported, often thousand of miles, from all over the country to Texas and Illinois in double-decker trailers designed for cattle in all types of weather with no food or water. Often there is not enough clearance for the horses to hold their heads in a fully upright position.

No consideration is given to the gender or the condition of the horses as they are crammed into these trucks. Horses are often injured and some even arrive at the slaughterhouse dead. The ones who survive the ordeal of transportation are held in pens until it is their turn to be butchered. The horses stand in the killing line smelling the blood, sensing the terror ahead. They are electrocuted or speared into the "kill box" where they shake violently, falling, unable to stand from fear.

According to federal law, horses must be rendered unconscious prior to slaughter, usually by captive bolt. With their long necks and aversion to anything approaching their foreheads, many horses require multiple strikes. However, some are improperly stunned, even with repeated blows.

The USDA's March 1998 report, Special Report on Humane Slaughter Methods and AnteMortem, shows the animals can and do regain consciousness after they have been stunned. Therefore some are still conscious when shackled, hoisted by a rear leg, and cut across the throat to be bled out.

Quote from a slaughterhouse worker:

"You move so fast, you don't have time to wait till a horse bleeds out. You skin him as he bleeds. Sometimes a horse's nose is down in the blood, blowing bubbles, and he suffocates."

From the book "Slaughterhouse" by Gail Eisnitz

A major misconception is that animals being readied for slaughter are stunned with a captive bolt in order to make the process more humane. The fact is, the captive bolt stunning mechanism was designed to protect slaughterhouse workers from the flailing limbs of terrified animals and to increase the speed of the production line.

If horse slaughter is banned, where will all the horses go?

The number of horses slaughtered in 1990 was a staggering 350,000, a number that dropped to an all time low of 42,000 in 2002. Between 1992 and 1993 alone, the number of horses slaughtered dropped 79,000. These decreases did not create a glut of "unwanted horses." Society absorbed these horses, and the market remained stable, just as it will when horse slaughter is eliminated altogether.

The phrase "unwanted horses" is a myth created by horse slaughter supporters. The number of horses slaughtered each year is the one used by them to arrive at the number of so-called "unwanted horses" for the same time period. In actuality, the number of horses slaughtered each year is the number of horses the horse slaughter plants have the capacity to butcher and process.

There are many alternatives to horse slaughter. Horses can be given another chance at life through retraining and adoption programs as pleasure horses, with rescues, retirement homes, and sanctuaries. Horses can also enjoy second careers as Mounted Police horses, at riding schools and as therapy horses.

If a horse becomes old, infirm or mortally ill, then the horse should be euthanized by a qualified veterinarian. There are a wide variety of options for disposing of their bodies that range from the costly to economical. These include burial (where permitted), cremation, rendering, composting and landfills. Texas A&M, in response to this question, released a special report on composting as a viable alternative that would be both environmentally and politically beneficial, predicting that this could become a big market when horse slaughter is banned.

If horse slaughter is banned, won't abuse and neglect increase?

California banned horse slaughter in 1998. California has experienced no increase in abuse case, and even noted a decrease 3 years following the ban. During the 4 years that Cavel was closed, Illinois saw a noticeable decrease in abuse and/or neglect cases. Texas, which had the only two slaughter plants in 2003, had among the nations highest rates of cruelty and theft.

The conclusion is clear – horse slaughter does not decrease abuse and neglect but actually encourages it.

Horse Fighting: Fact Sheet - The Fund for Horses

Horse Fighting: Fact Sheet - The Fund for Horses

Horse Fighting: Fact Sheet

What is horse fighting?

Horses are herd animals, and in natural circumstances will not only engage in battle for leadership of their group, but also for mating purposes. In this environment, Stallions do not fight to the death, but until one of them backs down or flees. This is nature's way of ensuring that the strongest bloodlines are responsible for the procreation of their kind. Horse fighting, or horse to horse combat, is a barbaric spectator sport where these circumstances are simulated in order to make two stallions, or male horses, fight each other in a controlled environment. Events are conducted before wildly cheering crowds who are stimulated by the blood, gore, fury and intensity of the fighting.

Where does horse fighting take place?

Horse fighting has now been outlawed almost worldwide. It still thrives, however, in countries like the Philippines, Indonesia, China and South Korea. Brutal and inhumane, these spectacles can be anything from featured events in annual fiestas and thanksgiving festivals to scrappy events put together by locals for the purposes of an afternoon's gambling and entertainment, or to honor a special guest. Horse fighting takes place in city stadiums or abandoned playing fields in remote villages and provinces. In more highly populated areas they may also be conducted at a local racetrack.

Where do the horses come from?

Some horses are bred specifically for horse to horse combat. However, some are acquired by promoters for their size and sturdiness and trained for fighting.

How do they make the horses fight?

To start the competition, two Stallions are brought in. A mare in heat is then presented to them and removed. Horses who do not immediately engage in a battle for her are whipped into a fury or gunshots fired to incite them through fear.

As the Stallions rise in combat, they bite, kick and strike each other with their hooves, inflicting serious wounds and injuries until one of them either succumbs, flees or is killed. The Stallion left standing is declared the winner.

Aside from the physical pain and wounds incurred by the Stallions, the mares are also subjected to animal cruelty, as they are injected with hormones to keep them in heat for the prolonged periods.

How long do horse fights last?

In festivals, a series of pairs are brought in to fight. The winners of these bouts then fight each other, until all are eliminated but the final two. In the deciding contest, the ultimate winner is declared the champion who is decorated with a special blanket and cheered by the crowd. It is considered a great honor to own the winning horse.

In provincial horse fights, stallions compete in a series of one-off matches. Competing horses are often ill-matched which results in gruesome injuries and even death to the weaker opponent.

What happens to the horses that lose?

Depending on the owner or promoter, horses who are not mortally wounded or suffer superficial wounds may be treated for future fights. These horses, however, are considered weak and their lives spared for more sinister purposes. In their next bout, they will be pitted against a superior opponent and will most likely be maimed or killed. In doing so, promoters ensure that spectators get the blood and gore they demand and expect.

For horses who are not treated for their injuries, this means their careers as equine gladiators are over, and they are either shot or slaughtered. It has been reported by visitors that in the remote areas of Asian countries, some of the horses are butchered at horse fighting events, and a cookout held for the spectators.

Why does horse fighting still go on?

Countries staging horse fights defend it as a cultural tradition that has gone on for hundreds of years, and resist any attempts to ban it. While tradition has long been used to legitimize horse fighting, money and gambling appears to be the real reason for its continued existence.


The Jurga Report: It's Not Just Dogs

I just found this on EquiSearch. I can hardly believe my eyes, and in fact I don't want to believe what I see here. I guess we will never learn...


Sunday, August 19, 2007

It's Not Just Dogs...

The recent publicity about an NFL (football) player being accused of hosting illegal dogfights has raised a lot of people's awareness of what I call "the pit bull underground". I'm not sure if the publicity will help put an end to the practice or pique people's interest in aggression as a spectator sport.

But are you aware of the "sport" of horse fighting? It works basically the same way as a dog fight. A mare is presented to two stallions and they battle each other before a cheering throng. The International Fund for Horses has a fact sheet on horse fighting that should be sufficient to shock you.

The Philippines is the country where horse fighting receives the most publicity, but apparently China and Korea allow the sport as well. Historically, Iceland and Scandinavia embraced horse fighting as an ancient tradition. On July 17, a scheduled horse fight in the Philippines was canceled to comply with the country's animal welfare laws.

Youtube.com has a growing list of horse fighting videos you can watch, if you have the stomach.

If this sounds barbaric, consider this: Four days ago, on Wednesday, August 15, 2007 the last legal cockfights in the USA were held. Louisiana and New Mexico were the last two states in the USA with legal cockfighting.

And how about camels? Turkey is one country that boasts of matches between trained wrestling camels.

Animal fighting is a worldwide activity.

(Photo links to International Fund for Animals web site.)


Total Meltdown

I'm sure it will come as a surprise to no one that it has been hot here. In fact, this past week has had the most miserably uncomfortable days we've had since we moved to Indiana in 1992.

With the ambient air temp over 90 degrees and the humidity around 90 as well, the heat index has been above 100. Even with fans going in the barn, I get dripping wet, and I'm not a heavy sweater. It just saps the life out of you.

Both Indy and Ami have seemed to be pretty comfortable though. They've been damp, but not dripping, and their hay feeder is in a nice shady spot in the paddock. Well, Indy was dripping one day, but that was because he was galloping up and down the paddock trying to get our attention so we'd come out. Honestly, that boy...

My new saddle will be delivered next Tuesday. Needless to say, I wouldn't have been riding anyway. I think there has been one day since our little "accident" that would have been suitable for trying a ride.

Now, what does one do with a saddle with a broken tree? I certainly wouldn't sell it to anyone. Mike says we should perform an autopsy. Well, why not?
"From my earliest memories, I have loved horses with a longing beyond words." ~ Robert Vavra