Monday, January 3, 2011

Slaughter? Really?

Since the issue of slaughter is really on the table--click here to read about the Summit of the Horse--I want to make it clear that I'm not actually against it happening in the U.S--although, I am against using it as a population control for Mustangs.

Why am I okay with slaughter? Because it's already happening. If you go to any horse auction out here in the West, you will see that many a good horse--young and old--is being purchased by what we call the "kill buyer." In this economy, people aren't paying good money for horses--but some really irresponsible people are still churning out crops of foals whose prices are so low, they are being purchased for their meat--the same with the old horses. If their sell price is low enough it comes within a range that the meat buyer can make a profit--he bids on them.

The problem is, since there is no legal slaughter in the U.S., these poor horses are hauled across the country to Canada and Mexico for slaughter--places where we have no input into regulating. The trip is stressful for the horses--some dying along the way--and we don't have any idea what happens when they get across the borders. This makes us hypocrites, at best, and inhumane and cruel, at worst. We won't slaughter, but they can? Really? So, in other words, we just don't want to see it.

I have a family member who worked at a local horse sale and she said it was very sad to see the "kill buyer" herding the frightened horses into the trailer--they were fighting, kicking, biting, basically, frantic.

Is this the way you want your pet to go? I think most of us--or anyone reading this blog--would probably never want their horse to go this way. Most of us would have the vet come out or otherwise end their lives (when the time comes to do so)-- humanely.

However, maybe you've sold your "pet" to someone you thought would take care of him or her--but years down the road life changes, finances change, and they take Old Red to the auction. The kill buyer gets him. So, despite your good intentions, he ended up at slaughter anyway.

Well, one good idea coming out of this summit is a national registry you could join--microchip implanted into your "pet"--that says your horse can NEVER be slaughtered--even if he/she changes ownership. Wonderful. (Although, I don't know how practical a microchip would be since it could be cut out.)

Since slaughter is happening anyway, I think it's best that it be handled right here in the US--regulated by the US and done with as much humanity as possible.

That said, I completely and utterly disagree with slaughter as a wild horse management tool.

I advocate--yes, "advocate"--the verb, which means, "to speak or write in favor of; support or urge by argument; recommend publicly"--I advocate Mustang contraception as a way to control herd populations--not slaughter.


  1. I'm with you on this subject. If you can prevent them from having babies in a humane way, then why shouldn't we do that instead of slaughtering them later. Seems to me it would be a lot less costly to do it that way too.

    As for slaughter in general, I am not against that either. I think we haven't saved any horses by outlawing slaughter in this country. I know the horses that are abandoned at the fort here are rounded up and sent to slaughter in Canada so even our own government is involved in seeing that horses go to slaughter, just not here, in our country.

    I've heard before that horses that are microchipped that go to slaughter are supposed to be monitored already but that the slaughterhouses don't even check for microchips. Relying on such a process to protect a beloved animal is probably just a nice idea that won't work unless it's going to somehow be enforced. I hate to say this but we all know how good the government is at that. There's already plenty of examples in the USDA of non compliance with no repercussions.

  2. I wish we still had control over the slaughter houses. Since the horses are being killed for meat anyway (and who am I to say that it's wrong to eat horse meat just because I choose not to?); I'd much rather it be done humanely and under U.S. Regulation.

    Slaughter as birth control - not a fan.

  3. Rising Rainbow--you made a good point about the microchip, and I tend to agree with you. It is possible, though, that if it was done in the US under regulation, it might work....still, like you said, knowing the government, highly doubtful. That's interesting about the government rounding them up and sending them to Canada, too. It makes the point well.

  4. Gun Diva--you make a good point, too, about some people eating horse meat. Who are we to say? There are many offended by the eating of cows or the eating of any meat at all.

    Personally, it grosses me out to think of people eating horse or, Lord forbid, DOG meat, but it happens. I mean, generally, you'd hope the value of the horse as a work animal exceeds it's value as a meat animal, but when people start overbreeding--prices plummet. Same thing goes for the Mustangs--stop the overbreeding and maybe the populations would level out and instead of the wild horses being looked as little more than "feral" pests--they'd be looked at like they should, as a piece of our country's history, an icon, and a national treasure.

  5. I am opposed to slaughter as a means of population control, but I do believe slaughter is a necessary evil ( I AM a meat eater and beef is high on my menu; don't we slaughter them?) I believe Dr. Temple Grandin made huge strides in making the US slaughter houses much more humane; maybe she could be included in developing something in the US that could be controlled.

    A question: how many here have signed the release to have your organs/body 'harvested' after death to help research or some other person have a better life? Now how many of you would object to a humane slaughter house that could let the dead body of your horse help feed the animals in the zoos that we all take our children to? There IS a Circle-of-Life, and all the romanticization in the world won't change the realities of life and death, but we can make it more dignified.

    I love the articles on PZP and it certainly seems like a very workable and viable solution. Attack the problem from the front end instead of the back - population control vs. slaughter.

  6. Juanita, Here in Spokane there is a wild cat zoo called Cat Tales, and they do accept donations of horses to feed their animals. They have a waiting list of people wanting to do this, but it's a big process to harvest the animal--all employees have to come in for the day--so they don't accept everyone--not hardly. They also use road kill, etc. From what I've been told, the process is as dignified and quick as such things can be.

    A couple years ago, I heard of a guy in my old home town who lost his job, couldn't feed his horses, couldn't sell them or give them away, and didn't want them to go to the auction and possibly slaughter in another country--which, in our case, would be Canada--so he dug a hole with a back hoe and did it the old fashioned way--a well placed shot. I know that must have been a hard decision for him, but I respected it.

    I'm glad to hear you're enjoying the PZP articles!

  7. Linda, I have read with interest your PZP thoughts and TJ's. I love her pictures, love what she says and think she is very knowledgable. I am for slaughter to be legalized however not for birth control. There must be a way for horses to be humanely put down, not like they do in Mexico. Horses at the Davenport auction on Mondays, have not been to a horse sale in alot of months, usually go for 25.00 maybe 50. And they have to beg to get someone to buy them. Most are stallions who are older, yearlings or younger OR impound horses people have just turned loose. We took one of those - a branded untitled old mustang mare. Just turned loose along a busy hiway. Its not just mustangs however, its horses in general. You write this all out so eloquently, thank you.

  8. You're absolutely right, Lea. Alisa went to an auction a couple of months ago and brought back a full report of animals and prices and it was shocking what well-bred foals were selling for (without papers--though, they probably could be papered.) I stay away from the auctions because I have a commitment to my 7 horses and I absolutely can't afford to bring another home without jeaopardizing the others. If I went to the auction, I'd bring one or more home. I respect very much what you do, though, you bring them home, train them, and then find them good homes later--like the BLM yearlings you've halter trained so they have a better chance of being adopted. Maybe I can do that, too, someday. I really do look up to you and appreciate what you have to say. I'm glad you're enjoying the PZP discussion, too.


Please feel welcome to join our discussion by telling us about your own thoughts and experiences.