Friday, December 19, 2008

Horse Slaughter

The Kentucky Horse Council recently sent me a survey on my opinions on horse slaughter. Over 22,000 horses were sent to slaughter in 2007, down from over 300,000 in the late 1980's, early 90's. Here in Kentucky where horses are big business, this issue comes up alot, particularly when there is a drought (like last year) and horses are found neglected and starving.

All I've ever heard was that the horses were subject to inhumane practices when being led to slaughter. Yet, I also hear that there are too many horses that are unwanted and unusable. It is estimated (according to AAEP) that the average care of a horse per year is $2500. It would take $144 million a year in Kentucky alone to care for unwanted horses alive that are unwanted and need care.

I struggle with this. As a meat eater (of cows, pigs, and chickens), I find it difficult to judge those that eat horse. Yet, culturally, it isn't accepted here any more than eating our other anthropomorphized friends, the dogs and cats. For those of you that say horses are different, I will tell you that cows, pigs, and chickens, have intelligence and personality.

Would I send my own horse, sick or unusable, to slaughter? Of course not. The neighbor's wild and uncontrolled and untrained pain in the #ss horses? Maybe. I think the survey misses one very important point. How did we get to this point of having up to 57,600 in Kentucky alone that are unusable or unwanted?

Each spring, I love to see the babies in the field, laying in the sun with their tiny tail flicking flies, or kicking up their heels. You'd have to be a real sour-puss to not smile at the sight. Yet, like dogs and cats, breeding should be limited to reproducing only special horses. It is not ethical to reproduce ordinary backyard horses to maybe make a few dollars, particularly if you are not a professional trainer. No where in the survey does it address stopping the continuing reproduction of too many horses.

What about you? Are you for or against horse slaughter? Have you or would you eat horse meat? Should the US be allowed to supply horse meat, using unwanted or unusable horses only, for foreign markets?

Junosmom, pondering

8 comments:

David Cranmer said...

This is something I haven't given a lot of thought too, but my first reaction would be I'm against it. However, I would have to do more research on it before I decided.

Janie said...

Wow, girl, you bring up a valid point.

Like David, I'm initially against it. But when you bring up the select breeding aspect, I guess I've not thought about people breeding their horses just to do so.

beeguy said...

Supply and demand. There isn't enough money in people actually raising horses for meat(or glue and dog food), from what I've heard(no pun intended) So of course, only the ones that are neglected and would, perhaps, end up starving would be the ones that end up as meat. However, I am against the cruel treatment and process behind much of the slaughter business, all livestock included. I think it should be allowed, in a less cruel way though.
As far as breading, once again, it was a supply and demand issue. In a good economy everyone is buying, when it's not so good they aren't, however, the horses people want take time to produce and train and when the demand isn't there when the finished product is, that is where the problem lies.
Mandates can not and should not be set on horse reproduction, perhaps when the stupid people go broke selling their unwanted, untrained horses to meat farms the problem with be solved though? Why not tax those selling to meat farms extra too?
I do feel bad for those that really love their animals and are just up against a wall with caring for them now, everything just keeps costing more and so many people are out of work too....It's not always the owners faults; they just have to sell to avoid killing their animals via starvation, a much crueler fate than a slaughter house.

Travis Erwin said...

I never have eaten horse meat, least not that I'm aware of but that stuff at Taco Bell makes me wonder at times.

I would eat it of there were no other alternatives and maybe even if there were. Meat is meat when you really get down to it, but then again I am PETAs worst nightmare. For the regard I wholeheartedly believed in animal welfare which I believe to be a very different thing than animal rights.

Barbara Martin said...

I have eaten horse meat in France. The meat is lean and slightly sweeter than beef.

As to slaughtering them, I'm not opposed even though I love horses to death. But I do take exception when the manner with which they are killed is inhumane. It happens here in Canada in the majority of the abbatoirs, including the ones for cattle and hogs.

The problem with sending the meat overseas to Europe is the horses themselves are shipped over, often in dreadful conditions. I would prefer to see them killed quick with a bullet to the head, than go that way.

As to breeding horses, which I have done in the past, to regulate the number of horses will bring up a great protest from the deep pocketed farms. Like the thoroughbred farms in your area. They breed horses to sell the yearlings at the premium sales like Keeneland in the spring. Expensive young horses. Very nice mind you.

Every time there is a slump in the economy or feed is difficult to obtain the people who shouldn't have horses in the first place, are the ones who send theirs to slaughter when they can't sell them.

Regulating the supply isn't going to prevent animal cruelty through starvation.

pita-woman said...

I don't think I could knowingly ever bring myself to eat horse-meat, but I know some do, to each their own.
The thoroughbred industry is a sore subject with me. They keep breeding these horses to be faster, and yet these horses aren't as hardy or durable as they used to be & we keep seeing more incidents such as with 8-Belles. And all too often if these horses don't measure-up on the track, they're too quickly pushed aside and labeled "unwanted". It's sad that these animals were bred simply in hopes of turning a buck or gaining their owners/trainers some glory. :(

Junosmom said...

Thank you for the comments and thoughts. It is a tough issue. Today, I received the following from the Kentucky Horse Council:

USDA LAUNCHES UNWANTED HORSE STUDY---At the request of American Farm Bureau Foundation (AFBF), the animal care division of USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) is leading a study to quantify the impact of unwanted and abandoned horses.

The APHIS study will characterize the type, history, ownership and health status of unwanted horses entering animal control facilities, rescue and retirement facilities, and auction markets. It will involve 15 to 20 animal control and rescue organizations throughout the United States, as well as a number of auction markets that sell horses on a weekly or monthly basis.

The study will evaluate 300 to 500 horses over a one-year period and include surveys for owners, sales personnel, and animal control and rescue personnel. The survey data will be statistically analyzed and reported in peer-reviewed scientific journals. The information also will be disseminated to the equine community through lay journals, Web site fact sheets and outreach presentations.

vicki said...

Have you read about Slaughtergate? 906 pages of irrefutable facts - directly from the USDA. Just more proof that horse slaughter serves the lowest common denominator in the industry.

You can view the FOIA report on Beltex and see the news report that aired on KHOU TV in Texas here: www.vickitobin.com/id28.html

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