More Thoughts On Horse Slaughter

Earlier this year, I wrote a post entitled “A Solution To The Slaughter Issue“, in which I proposed the rescues start a “Rescue Registry”. In my blog post, I suggested that they could not only limit breeding to a certain extent, but also provide an incentive to rescue by offering large events with a pay back. Basically, they could offer a nationals and a “Mustang Makeover” type event for rescued horses.

Although I covered a lot of territory and offered at least a partial solution, I didn’t completely reveal the rest of my solution for the hot topic of horse slaughter. A couple of weeks ago however, I was reminded that I need to write the next blog post!

On a Sunday afternoon I was headed with a friend to a Cattle Sorting practice in Resaca, Georgia a couple of hours away. As we drove along I-75 South, just a few miles north of Chattanooga, we were passed by a red full size semi tractor-trailer truck with a Stanley Brothers Farms logo that was pulling a single deck semi livestock trailer. We could tell it was full of horses.

Stanley Brothers Truck
Stanley Brothers Truck by Animals Angels 

My first thought was maybe they were transporting draft horses since the trailer was a little larger than most, but my gut told me something else. I had seen the exact same truck and trailer headed north on I-75 just two afternoons before. My friend got on her smart phone and looked up Stanley Brothers Farms. Sure enough, she found an article where Animals Angels had done an animal cruelty investigation on Stanley Brothers, which is basically a horse slaughter feedlot.

As Stanley Brothers is located in Arkansas and Louisiana, I had to wonder why in the world they were in east Tennessee, basically 12 plus hours away. It didn’t make any business sense for them to drive at least 12 hours in the opposite direction to purchase horses for slaughter when there are a lot of sale barns much closer to their part of the country, and on the way to Mexico. Additionally, even if they had driven that far to purchase horses, I-75 is not the quickest route back home, or to Mexico.

So what are they doing in east Tennessee? Do they have a secret farm close by that no one is yet openly aware of? All their other farms have gained a lot of bad publicity, which I’m sure impacted their ability to purchase horses from unsuspecting sellers.

With illegal slaughter houses being busted in Florida, it sure brings up a lot of possibilities of why they’re here. There’s got to be a reason for their being in east Tennessee because it makes absolutely no business sense for them to be transporting here. Sales in this area wouldn’t support the volume needed to drive 12 hours, so there’s got to be another reason and someone needs to investigate that.

On to the rest of my business idea for at least a partial solution to the over population of horses and the slaughter debate.

I think that horse slaughter should be turned over to the horse rescues to monitor and to profit from. While that might seem like somewhat of a radical, perhaps even crazy idea, I honestly think it needs to be considered because it’s ultimately a win for both the rescue and horses.

The rescues could be in charge the actual slaughter, which means they could make sure that it was done in the most humane manner possible, and in the most humane environment – on site. They could also regulate which horses were put down, and which ones were salvageable which means that a good number of horses would have a second chance.

While we all like to dream that you can save every horse, the cold hard truth is that you just can’t. Even Buck Brannaman, the biggest horse advocate on the face of the planet, conceded that the stallion in his documentary should be euthanized because he was too dangerous. The fact is that some horses are just too much of a danger to themselves and to others, and the only possible solution, the most humane solution, is euthanasia.

The problem is that a lot of horse rescues do want to save every single horse, sometimes at the cost of being able to rescue more horses. That’s not to say that they shouldn’t try to help a horse if it needs it, but they need to do it within reason. If the option is doing a surgery that costs $10,000 or putting a horse down, I’ve seen rescues do the surgery. That $10,000 could have fed a lot of horses!

In order for the rescues to regulate slaughter, they would have to adopt a more practical and business like approach, and keep the bigger picture in plain sight. Are they going to rescue one, or are they going to rescue many?

Currently, practically all horse rescues depend on public donations to operate, and they’re always short on funds. One plus of the rescues regulating slaughter is that they could at least become partially self-sufficient from the sales of horse hide, horse hair, hooves and whatever else they could sell from the horses that they slaughtered.

While some might worry that a group might operate under the guise of a rescue only to slaughter every horse that comes in, that could be easily remedied by requiring every rescue group to have a board of directors without a conflict of interest. Additionally, they could be required to keep detailed records that are also available to the public.

I’m sure horse slaughter will continue to be a hot issue. The problem is that there are no easy answers and I think in order to find an answer of some kind, people need to start thinking out of the box. If enough minds work together to find a solution, one can certainly be found with enough effort and input.

Rescue Donkey - Oscar
Rescue Donkey – Oscar




22 thoughts on “More Thoughts On Horse Slaughter

  1. I’m a little bit old-school on this issue, Frances, because I am for slaughter, and I wish it could be done here, not across the border. Your idea is interesting, with the horse rescues regulating slaughter, but I’m curious as to who would regulate the rescues. A lot of “rescue” outfits up in this part of the country are simply lousy horse traders who don’t want to travel to the sale barn.
    Additionally, I’m not sure slaughter on-site is a viable option. Of course, you can shoot a horse on your place if it needs to be put down, but slaughter for meat is a whole different story. A mobile slaughter unit, like some custom meat cutters have, might work if you could get it inspected, but you can’t. Even stationary slaughter plants in the US can’t get inspected for horse meat- at least not cheaply enough to make it worthwhile.
    This is a tough issue. It seems to me that responsible breeding would help to solve this over time, but everybody with a pair of spurs is pretty well convinced that his crappy hairlip tobiano is the next best thing to Trigger, and he’s got a pen full of mares out behind the barn. Throw ’em together, see what happens. It’s difficult to raise the standards of what makes an acceptable stud horse.
    I applaud you for looking at this issue- talking about it is the first step. We all love horses and want what’s best for them- even if, unfortunately, it’s going to the coulee and bringing back the halter. What’s the best way to educate people and to make our nation’s horse herd a little smaller and of higher quality? That’s what we’ve got to figure out. But for now, the ride from a Montana sale barn to a Calgary slaughterhouse doesn’t look as inhumane as the hoarding do-gooders who underfeed and overbreed in the name of “rescuing” unwanted broomtails. Just my two cents.
    Keep Your Heels Down-

    1. Thanks for visiting Sam!😁
      I agree that it’s a difficult issue to figure out,and that they’re better staying here than going across the border. While I would love to see a lot more responsible breeding, it’s hard to change human nature, especially when it involves making money. I really think the large breeders of nice horses are just as much to blame as the junk breeders. The problem isn’t as much quality as it is quantity. A small junk breeder puts out maybe 20 babies at most a year per stallion. In comparison, the high dollar breeders put out hundreds per year per stallion thanks to artificial insemination,embryo transfers, etc.
      As far as regulating the rescues, that would have to be worked out, but I think it could be done with enough public involvement and transparency. It would take some work figuring out the logistics but I think it could be doable.

  2. Hello F.J.–I agree that the horse slaughter issue needs a viable solution, but I honestly cannot see rescue organizations overseeing slaughter. The people who run these rescues (the ones I know, anyways) truly love horses and I seriously doubt they could take on the task of deciding which horses to kill for human consumption. The whole reason they started these rescues in the first place was the save horses, after all. I think the solution lies with each of us. We need to be responsible horse owners. And that means taking care of our horses even when they grow old and no longer serve our purposes. It also means putting an end to backyard breeding and also, it means taking a hard look at some of the industries (i.e.–racing) that produce so many unwanted horses in the first place. I don’t think we can put this issue on any one organization, but rather, we all have to take responsibility for it.

    1. First of all, thanks for visiting the blog! All good points. How would you go about getting breeders to take more responsibility than they are taking now?

  3. First your idea is a logical fallacy, there is no such thing as humane horse slaughter. Hoese slaughter is about supoly and demand to send a commsotiy, horse meat, over seas to consumers for human consumption. Yiur idea would never work basically due to economics, way to scattered to work, refeigeration needs etc… inspections by USDA for food safety issues.. just to name a few. But most importantly, as a horse lover, owner and rescue, we would never slaughter a horse. Borse slaughter is not euthanasia as you were suggesting Buck was advising the stallions horse owner. I also think he would have somthing to say about your implications.

    1. First of all, thanks for visiting the blog. You are stating that there is no humane horse slaughter. Based on that, even when a vet euthanized a horse it’s not humane either. What would you do to actually solve the large number of lame horses that can’t get funding for treatment and can’t find homes, and for the horse’s that are too dangerous to place, and how long would your plan take to implement and show a difference?

      1. euthanasia is not slaughter. Euthanasia a horse is sedated first, they do not have a penatrating captive bolt coming towards their face. You also co.pletely negated to address the economic issues I addressed. In addition, US horses are not raised for food in this country and therefore are not safe for humane consumption since we give our horses medications which are banned from use in any animal intended for human consumption. 92% of the horses sent to slaughter are young sound healthy horses.

        Again horse slaughter is a supply and demand business for human consumption in other countries. Therefore the plants buy the number of horses for which they can sell the meat from. No more, no less.

        Do not forget that meat slaughtered for human soncumptiom by sale, especually exported, must be inspected by the USDA. So again your logic is extremely flawed and is a clear indication you truly do not know about the slaughter industry and or this issue.

      2. What about a solution? I don’t see your idea for how to actually solve the issue?
        Additionally, I did not see horse meat mentioned in the blog –
        “One plus of the rescues regulating slaughter is that they could at least become partially self-sufficient from the sales of horse hide, horse hair, hooves and whatever else they could sell from the horses that they slaughtered.”

        I never advocated the sale of horse meat as there are other parts of the animal that can be sold to make money. So the USDA inspection of meat is a void argument.

  4. In this time of global food imports and exports, it is imperative that all Americans accept the responsibility of what is put into the food chain, whether we consume those products in the U.S. or not.

    Horses are listed as companion animals through the FDA in order to receive veterinary drugs banned from all food producing animals. The U.S. has no tracking system for the horses which have received these drugs. When horses are recieved at the auction houses, they come from various sources. Some have been riding horses, some are brood mares, some are wild horses. Once they are thrown into a pen for kil buyers, they resort to their herd mentality and there is no way to separate those which have been exposed to these banned drugs from those who are feral or wild …and have not. The horse industry must stop using the food chain as it’s convenient disposal system.

    The testing of all food producing animals is by testing the kidney of the animal for these veterinary drugs. The USDA has decided to test only the meat of every 50 ton of horse meat. The drugs do not provide a residual presence in the meat but only in the kidney.

    The U.S. has the Bioterrorism Act of 2002, Title II, to prevent adulterated foods to be imported into our country. How can the U.S. have these strict guidelines yet they continue to allow the horse industry to use the exported food chain distribute adulterated horse meat? It is unethical to dump horses with legal and illegal drugs into the human food chain.

    1. “One plus of the rescues regulating slaughter is that they could at least become partially self-sufficient from the sales of horse hide, horse hair, hooves and whatever else they could sell from the horses that they slaughtered.”

      I’m not talking about selling horse meat. I’m talking about selling hide, hair, hooves, tendons, intestines that can be used for something other than consumption as food — again, think outside the box.

      1. The only reason you go through the process of SLAUGHTER is to maintain the meat for consumption. Otherwise, humane euthanasia allows those parts to be used…. Commercial horse slaughter does not meet the 2014 AVMA Humane Euthanasia Guidelines.

  5. We already know the horse industry is fraught with deception. How do you propose to make certain every kill buyer in the U.S. doesn’t become a 501c3 charity rescue? With the recent tertiary market rescues have popped up all over the place and a good deal of these are less than savory, I don’t think you have thought this through. We can’t even get Animal control to act on cases of neglect and abuse, who is going to regulate these rescue slaughter plants? The authorities are already doing a lousy job of any kind of inspections at horse auctions.
    I can’t think of any rescues that I know of who would want to slaughter horses to subsidize a non profit, let alone kill the horses and sell their hides. The two just don’t go hand in hand.
    Remember, horse slaughter is not euthanasia, it’s a violent act against an animal, but anyway why don’t you do a survey with reputable, legitimate rescues and see what they have to say about your idea. I’m already hearing a resounding NO, NOT ON YOUR LIFE !!!

    1. What do you propose instead as the solution to fund and house all the unwanted horses that can’t be placed due to soundness and behavioral issues? I keep hearing it’s wrong but I have yet to hear an actual proposed solution.

      “I think that horse slaughter should be turned over to the horse rescues to monitor and to profit from. While that might seem like somewhat of a radical, perhaps even crazy idea, I honestly think it needs to be considered because it’s ultimately a win for both the rescue and horses.
      The rescues could be in charge the actual slaughter, which means they could make sure that it was done in the most humane manner possible, and in the most humane environment – on site.” — I see no where the blog said the rescues would be opening a “Slaughter House” — I only said they could regulate the slaughter of the animals itself. Big difference.

      A survey siting what the blog post actually says is a good idea. Regulation would be a challenge, but it’s do-able if people would keep the drama & the emotions out of it and work together to figure out a solution. As it is, people read into it what they want to, go off the deep end, and aren’t taken seriously which is why there hasn’t been progress to find an actual solution.

      1. You keep ignoring the fact that 92% of the horses going to slaughter are young, sound, healthy horses per the USDA and Temple Grandin. Perhaps horse owners will have to take responsibility for their lame horses and put them down instead of dumping them. That is the responsibility of a horse owner…

  6. Well I certainly didn’t go off the deep end, just offered my opinion to an unviable solution. Yes, I think all rescues should euthanise and hopefully most do. I do understand that some waste money trying to save the unsaveable, however, those costly operations are funded by their donors usually and if people want to donate then there’s not a lot we can do about it. There are no laws to say you can’t hand over money to a rescue that behaves wrecklessly. So that would be hurdle number one. Hurdle number two would be getting the public to donate to rescues that slaughter. I highly doubt it would go well with the general population as recent polls show 80% of the U.S. are against horse slaughter.
    So I assume you are talking about shooting a horse in the head as the slaughter method, well a person can actually do that now, or if they prefer not to they can always ask a friend with a .22, or they can call a vet to humanely put your friend to sleep.
    You see most people don’t want to know their horses go slaughter, that’s why they send them to auction. There’s no difference with your solution than calling the Kill buyer to take your horse.
    If we get the borders closed eventually horse breeders will have to take responsibility for their horses. It wont be over night but if there isn’t an outlet for them we will see a decline in the amount of over breeding. So no slaughter in rescues necessary.
    The thing is, if you provide an easy solution , such as your suggestion then there is no accountability, and that’s what we are lacking.
    We have less than 1% of US horses going to the slaughter plants we can absorb that amount if the plants close down.

    1. According to this link, 102,554 horses went to slaughter houses in Mexico in 2013 and 39,523 horses so slaughter houses in Canada, and rescues at the time of the article in 2014 could only house 33,000. Considering EACH horse requires a minimum of 2 acres to graze in the east or 10+ acres per animal in the west; or a minimum of 20 pounds of forage and 10 gallons of water per day, there are not enough resources to take on the animals that were shipped out just in 2013. Heck, even the most recent case of 100 horses in Texas that were abandoned the rescues and public couldn’t handle the volume – and that’s just 100.

      Additionally, if the borders were closed, people would resort to turning horses loose or dumping them in someone else’s pastures. We’d have an awful lot of loose horses running around causing accidents. I’ve seen that happen already just due to drought and prices dropping and that’s with kill sales available.

      I’m sure AQHA probably has up to date numbers on exports to slaughter.

      1. If you are concerned about the number of horses going to slaughter being considered “unwanted” then what did we do in 2005 when the plants were open in the US and we exported horses for slaughter to Canada and Mexico. There were only 25,000 slaughtered that year between all three. (USDA statistics) We weren’t exactly overran with horses. These horses are not unwanted. they are just unlucky.

  7. I’m completely aware of the numbers that go to slaughter.I’m not sure of the amount of land needed for one horse on the East coast but your figures for the West are completely wrong. In Oregon it’s one horse per acre in my county and California allows three per acre, each State is different, but I’m unaware of any State that requires ten acres per horse, so not sure where you are getting your data from. Are you aware the AQHA is pro horse slaughter? so whatever information you get from them is bound to have more than a little propaganda in it.
    Yes the drought has established hay prices for a lot of the US, but so has the export of our hay, the Anderson Hay company for example ships most of our hay to Asia, so if you want to hit hard where it really hurts perhaps you should be campaigning for hay companies to end their greedy exports so horse owners aren’t gouged to feed their animals.
    Hope you do a survey to ask rescues if they would be agreeable to horse slaughter. Pretty sure horse slaughter slash rescue are an oxymoron.

  8. 1. A majority of the horses that go to slaughter come from two sources, over-breeding and animals who are at the end of their “working life”. Working to contain over-breeding where the breeders send the culls to slaughter would be one way of cutting down the number of horses that go to slaughter.

    2. There are rescues who attempt to save the horses who are being retired, so they can finish our their lives at rest.

    3. Since the kill buyers haunt and make the majority of their purchases at auctions, they also buy horses that are not “unwanted” but were taken to the auction by ignorant, but well-meaning people who honestly want their horse to go to a good home.

    4. Slaughter and the auctions aren’t used by people who can’t afford to feed their horses. They love their horses too much to take them to auction, sell them to a kill-buyer, or ask for help.

    To suggest that rescues take over the “slaughter side” and euthanize horses and sell the byproducts like a knacker would, is against the entire idea of rescue.

    1. Thanks for visiting the blog. Perhaps it’s time we need to change our idea or definition of rescues. How would you solve the problem of over population and lack of funding for unwanted horses?

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