Many claim to be strictly anti-horse slaughter, which seems to be understandable. People don’t want to think about horses dying, or being treated like livestock, bred, born, raised, and then sent to die. But that’s not how it works. Most of the time, horse slaughter is a cheap euthanasia for a poor horse. It’s an easy, cost effective way to end suffering for the poor creature. Without slaughter houses in the U.S., horses are still sent to slaughter, but in less humane, further locations, that usually being Canada or Mexico. It’s impossible to claim to have mercy on a horse, while continuously voting to keep horse slaughter houses out of America. Take this for example:
A deathly thin horse stands shivering in mucky feed lot with manure to the top of her rotted hooves. Her back sways, and her hips protrude from a lack of nutritional feed. The mare is only five years old, yet her teeth constantly ache from a lack of dental care. Her eyes are weary, as she knows she will continue to stand here for years to come. For her, life is a burden with far and few pleasant days. Her elderly owner barely scrapes together enough cash to feed her. He cannot afford the six hundred dollar cost for euthanasia by a veterinarian. This leaves him, like many horse owners, in between a rock and a hard place. However, there is another option. Horse slaughter in the United States is an alternative that would bring benefits to horses, the horse industry, struggling families, and the United States itself.
Horse slaughter has become a prosperous industry in Mexico, and it is thriving because of Americans. Eighty seven percent of all horses slaughtered in Mexico were shipped in from the United States (https://www.avma.org/News/JAVMANews/Pages/150215r.aspx). This results in several downfalls. The first effect of horse slaughter being available only in Mexico results in holding pens. This means up to several hundred horses may stand a single pen with minimal water, and typically no feed. After a trailer arrives to transport the horses across the country, the horses are cramped in, and often injured by other terrified horses. When the frightened and weary horses finally arrive at the facility, it does not have health codes or regulations to humanely put the horses down. This results in the horse meat to be potentially dangerous, not knowing what medications the horses may have been on, prior to slaughter. Also, the meat is typically tough and stringy because the horses were tense and scared. Had the slaughter house been in America, the animals would have been more relaxed, and the meat have been inspected to ensure safe consumption.
The horse industry itself would really benefit from horse slaughter. As of right now, grade horses are flooding the market, and circulating through auctions quicker than ever.
Poor horses, whether in condition, structure, or mannerism- are everywhere. The demand for these horses is almost nonexistent, putting a strain on horse people everywhere. By allowing slaughter, it removes a burden from everyone, and allows the horse industry to flourish. Horses would be worth more again, and better respected by buyers nationally.
If horse slaughter were to be available in the United States, it would also allow a better option for struggling families. Horses should be fed about two point five percent (2.5%) of their total body weight daily, which is approximately twenty eight pounds (28lbs) of forage daily. The average fifty pound (50lb) bale of alfalfa timothy, alfalfa bluegrass, or straight alfalfa bale is seven to fifteen dollars ($7-15) per bale. Assuming a buyer paid eight dollars ($8) a bale, that is approximately four dollars and fifty cents ($4.50) a day. Grain is typically twenty dollars ($20) for fifty pounds (50lbs) , and the typical horse will eat the equivalent of five dollars ($5) worth per day. This means the average horse will cost two hundred eighty dollars ($280) a month or three thousand three hundred and sixty dollars ($3,360) annually. Horses also require a farrier to ensure their hooves are healthy and trimmed, which costs about thirty dollars ($30) a month. Horses should be dewormed once a month as well, which costs an additional seven dollars ($7) a month. Annual check ups and shots average two hundred dollars, ($200) and annual dental work is usually one hundred and fifty dollars ($150). This comes out to be three thousand seven hundred and forty seven dollars ($3747) annually, per horse. This calculation does not include the additional cost of tack, fencing, shelter, health supplements or pasture fees.
With the horse market flooded with so many ‘worthless’ horses, free horses are abundant. Uneducated, well meaning people take in these horses, not thinking about all the inherited costs of a horse, and soon find themselves in financial trouble with a poorly cared for horse. If the family can no longer afford to feed an animal, and cannot find it a home or a shelter (as many shelters are overwhelmed) the animal must be put to sleep. Euthanasia is typically six hundred dollars ($600) in total. It costs roughly one hundred dollars ($150) for a veterinary visit, two hundred ($200) for euthanasia, and an additional three hundred ($300) for the disposal, cremation, or burial of a horse. If a family is struggling to pay for feed, affording euthanasia could be a financial stress, if not financially impossible. Bringing horse slaughter back to the United States would allow the horses to be put down for free, and would possibly allow the family to pocket some very necessary cash. What the local government seems to be overlooking, is the money it would bring in, or at least not be sending to Mexico. A reason why Americans object to horse slaughter is because there is not a demand for horse meat here. However, there is a demand for it in foreign countries, and it can be exported for American profits.
Horse slaughter is a positive alternative, and should not be shot down merely because it appears cruel from the outside, or because Americans are not interested in the meat. It offers so many benefits we just absolutely cannot overlook, especially for the well being of the horse.
What are your thoughts on horse slaughter? Is it kind? What rules and regulations should be placed on it? Can it be avoided, and should it be avoided?