Originally Posted by kim_angel
Originally Posted by Gingerrrrr
okay my opinion. DO NOT come back at me and give me the "well what if your horse got injured today" bull$hit....just because i am on a tight budget when it comes to owning a horse doesn't mean anything...it is what it is...some people on here act like there all offended when we say yes we would send our horses to slaughter if we couldn't afford euthanasia. get over it...
get over it? Sure, but honestly I think its sad that you would send your horse to slaughter rather than euthanize it. I am happy that my horses will never suffer the fate that yours could possibly suffer.
If your tight budget cant afford vet care though, you shouldnt have a horse or any animal you cant afford. I stand by that.
I said that over and over again. But did anybody listen? No! I come from Aussie Land, and this is what we do (DO Some research!)
The slaughter of horses for human consumption is a controversial and secretive business, its existence hard to accept by horse owners, unheard of by most members of the public. Even Austrade has it effectively smoke-screened, listing one of the companies involved as an exporter of “game meats”.
But the export of horsemeat from Australia has been going on since the 1970s, though only in a small way back then. The first major export was 7777 tonnes in 1981. The biggest ever year was 1986 when 9327 tonnes were shipped out, representing the slaughter of well over 30,000 horses. After that, although it fluctuated, there was a steady decline to 6000 tonnes in 1999, then it halved again to some 3000 tonnes in 2003, representing about 10,000 horses. But the price has steadily risen, due at least in part to the mad cow disease scares causing people to turn away from beef. The approximate export value per kilogram in 2004 was $3.30 compared with $2.70 in 1999. This translates to a great deal more on the dinner table, over US$50/kg according to some sources.
It is not we Australians who are eating our horses because it is illegal to eat horsemeat here. It is diners mainly in Europe who are indulging, plus some Japanese. The two abattoirs in Australia licensed to export horsemeat are in fact Belgian-owned. They are at Peterborough in South Australia (Metro Velda Pty Ltd) and Caboolture abattoir in Queensland (Meramist Pty Ltd).
As with cattle and other types of livestock, the best meat comes from younger animals in good condition with quality muscling. So it is not the old, broken-down horses tired of living that are killed at these two horsemeat abattoirs - they go instead to one of the 30-odd knackeries throughout Australia, there to be processed for petfood, fertiliser, hides etc. No, it is much younger horses mostly still in their prime which are slaughtered for human consumption. Exempt from this group are usually pony and draught types, which are less preferred for various reasons. Grey horses are not normally accepted either because of the likelihood of malignant melanoma, a human health risk.
So where are these quality younger animals, rarely past middle years, coming from? It is difficult to get a breakdown of breeds/types sold for slaughter. The selling agents do not keep a record and the abattoirs are not forthcoming. But even in the absence of documented figures, the finger must be pointed firmly at the racing industry, which has a very high attrition rate of fine quality, well-muscled horses still in their prime often with no road open except to a horsemeat abattoir. A significant statistic is that the peak slaughter years of the 80s also saw the highest number of Thoroughbred foals born, culminating in a record 23,697 in 1989. Apart from minor fluctuations, every year after that saw a steady decline to about 17,000 foals born in 2004. This fall was paralleled by a decline in horsemeat production. It is logical to assume that the decreasing foal crop was heavily biased towards the lower end of the Thoroughbred market and therefore representative of those foals which, had they been born, would have been most likely to contribute to the horsemeat trade.
Harness racing is a related source, but it is a considerably smaller industry with a lower attrition rate because standarbreds start racing when older and stay racing longer. Pleasure horses, show and working horses and the equestrian industry in general are other sources, but the percentage would be small in comparison with Thoroughbreds because, even in the toughest disciplines, there is never the attrition rate at such a young age. A compelling reason why some do find their way to the horsemeat abattoirs though is the cost advantage in comparison with euthanasia and disposal by more compassionate means. An example from America – “Euthanizing a horse costs between $75 and $150, and disposing of the body when it cannot be buried, costs at least $250. Sending a horse to slaughter, however, nets an average $500 profit.”
Another contribution to the horsemeat industry comes from the annual cull of feral horses or brumbies. Truckloads of them are transported vast distances to the abattoirs from as far away as Western Australia and the Northern Territory. But even they only represent 20- 25% of the total numbers slaughtered. Of major concern, discussed in more detail under Horse welfare: transport and floating, is the stress associated with their capture, yarding and loading and then the transport itself often in double decker units designed for cattle, and a welfare code that allows them to be trucked 36 hours without water or feed.
All indications are that racing is a major contributor to the horsemeat export trade. An amazing statistic from the U.S. is that the removal of tax benefits which encouraged the breeding of racehorses saw the total number of horses slaughtered drop from 300,000 in 1990 to 88,000 in 2005. That’s a whopping 70% reduction despite an influx of Premarin mares since 2002, though an offset has been an increase in rescue organizations.
In Australia, the evidence is that failed/retired racehorses and broodmares are making up at least 60% of the industry. Some of them are just two and three years old. In a personal communication, a buyer of slaughter horses in Queensland estimated that about 80% of the horses he deals in are Thoroughbreds, 50%-60% of which are killed at Caboolture abattoir for their meat, which is exported overseas for human consumption. Some of the others are purchased for the equestrian market. The rest go to the knackery at nearby Rosewood. In the first part of 2006, Caboolture abattoir was killing about 150 horses on one day of the week, though it can and has processed 700 head a week.
Personal observation over a two-year period of horses collected in a nearby paddock prior to transport to slaughter revealed that at least 80% of them were Thoroughbreds. They were unmistakeably racing and stud farm rejects by their type and unique system of branding.
A sad truth about the racing industry and one never advertised is that worldwide, some 30% of horses bred never even start in a race due to injury or lack of ability. In addition, an Australian study (which no doubt reflects the situation elsewhere) found that 40% of 1804 racehorses aged 2-5 years and actively in work and racing over a season earned no money at all, while the earnings of 87% of them were insufficient to cover training costs. But while ever unwanted horses of any breed or type continue to be bred, slaughter and the horsemeat trade will remain options for their disposal, a profitable form of convenience euthanasia.