Animal Science 121
Stephanie Hughes and Chris Rath
I. What is Horse Slaughter? A. The practice of slaughtering horses to produce meat for consumption.
II. How Do They Slaughter Horses?
A. Similar to the livestock, Cattle.
1. Horses arrive on trucks and trailers and proceed down a ramp into a feeding pen that leads to a chute.
2. A captive bolt pistol is held up to the horses forehead and shoots a four inch piece of metal into the brain. (Sometimes more than once). This blow is intended to either kill the horse instantly or stun it.
3. The horse is strung up by its feet. The throat is slit and blood drained.
4. Saleable meat is removed from the carcass and remains set aside for other commercial uses.
B. There are differences in the slaughtering of horses and cattle though.
1. Horses are more difficult to herd than cattle
2. Horses are also more excitable than cattle so the use of blinders are common
3. Smell of blood makes horses nervous, causing the instinct to “flee”
4. Horses are harder to keep still to insure captive bolt pistol strikes the right part of the brain
III. Is It Illegal to Slaughter Horses In The United States?
A. Horse slaughter is NOT illegal in the United States. Some states prohibit the slaughter of horses for human consumption but there is no federal law banning the practice. What is illegal is the sale of horse meat for human consumption in the United States.
IV. History of Horse Slaughter
A. Horse meat being a means of food for humans has been documented in some of the earliest days of human history
1. Paintings in the Chauvet Cave in France show horses among other animals being hunted by humans.
B. In the U.S slaughtering horses for food started in the early 1970’s.
1. By 1990 there were more than 16 slaughter houses operated
2. In 2006, Congress passed a legislation giving no funds to USDA horse meat inspectors.
3. By 2007, the last three horse slaughters in the US had to close because of the ban.
4. Since the closure of all horse slaughter houses in United States, the number of horses saved is almost equal to how many are now transported to neighboring countries for slaughter.
5. In 2011, President Obama lifted the ban on horse slaughter for human consumption
V. Horse Slaughter in Other Countries A. Canada
1. Horse slaughter industry is one of the largest in the world with over 93,000 horses slaughtered in 2009
2. Canada’s transport standards are considered one of the worst in the industrialized world allowing horses to be transported in trailers, etc. up to 36 hours without food, water or rest.
3. The process of slaughter is similar to those used in the United States. Except they use the captive-bolt stun gun or actual gun shot to render unconscious. B. Mexico
1. Also leads in horse slaughter industry with over 110,000 American horses slaughtered in 2012.
2. Only four plants are EU regulated.
3. Numerous methods of paralyze these horses are used here. Captive bolt and gunshot among the use of a “puntilla” knife to severe the spine.
C. UK, Ireland, Australia, Japan, and parts of Latin America and Europe also prevail in horse slaughter.
1. Most render horse unconscious by gunshot but captive bolt is becoming more popular.
VI. Are Horses Raised For Food?
A. Unlike most livestock and poultry, horses are not raised for consumption.
1. Their feed is based on their age, breed and whether they are work, show, racing, etc. horses.
2. Horses are often given antibiotics and other medications that would require a withdrawal period before slaughter.
3. Horses must be slaughtered under the observation of a federal or state inspector, being covered under the Federal Meat Inspection Act.
A. A 3.5 ounce serving of cooked horse meat:
1. 175 calories
2. 28 grams protein
3. 6 grams fat (considerable low)
B. Retail cuts of horse meat are…