"Courage is being scared to death but saddling up anyway"
- John Wayne

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Roping the Benefits of Horse Slaughter

The views expressed are solely my own.  I wrote this paper for my Equine Science class.          

             Everyone appreciates the horse.  Whether you have a horse or not, the horse is still respected from afar.  For centuries, man has tamed and utilized the horse for his own benefit.  At first, the Comanche Indians primarily used the horse as a mount for transportation and battle.  Throughout history the horse has been used as a sturdy and hefty animal that was trained to withstand the hardships of battle and terrain.  In the 1500’s, as the horse became more domesticated and utilized in the United States, the horse was bred more for a bulkier look in order to pull stagecoaches and plows for the family and farmer.  From the 1800’s onward, the horse population has exceeded over 55 million.  Last November, horse slaughter was restored within the United States.  Horsemeat is not traditionally consumed in America, but in other parts of the world, horsemeat contributes to the pool of wealth. 
Horse slaughter has a political history of its own.  Before 2006, horsemeat was inspected through government funding in the U.S.  Because it was being inspected, it could be sold legally on the market.  In 2006, the funding for horsemeat inspection was cut and therefore, horse slaughter was banned in the United States.  Because profit was lost from the horse slaughter and because there are many unneeded horses, people were transporting horses either to Mexico or Canada where they could be slaughtered.  The concern with this is the welfare of the horses.  Some animal activist groups believe slaughtering horses is wrong and the lack of care during transportation is harming the animal.  Recently, on November 18th, 2011, President Obama signed a bill that included horse slaughter being allowed in the United States again.  This bill is meant to boost the Agriculture industry.  Horse slaughter should remain to be allowed and regulated in the United States.       
Horse slaughter would prove to be a beneficial economic factor to the horse industry.  Currently, in the year 2012, horses are mainly used for recreation, showing, and racing.  The horse industry amounts to $101.5 billion for United States GDP.  Additionally, over 700,000 people are employed within the horse industry itself.  When you add in the horse slaughter, this previous number will be exceeded.  In hard economic times, jobs would most certainly be appreciated.  Instead of having the job done in Canada or Mexico, the harvest can now be done here in the United States.  Furthermore, the United States can make even more profit by exporting the meat to other countries such as Europe and Asia that do consume horsemeat.  The people who are in favor of slaughter claim, “everyone in the horse world is so excited we may have an opportunity to turn the whole equine market around” (Gentilviso).  Just because horse slaughter is allowed once again does not mean Americans have to eat horsemeat.  Traditions loathe horsemeat as a source of food; when we roamed to the west in search of new lands, we always resorted to cattle (which is now its own industry) for food.  No one ever thought of eating the horse unless they had to.  Americans don’t have to be forced to do anything they don’t want to; the glory of living in a country where one’s individual rights are protected.  But when it concerns the country as a whole, horse slaughter would benefit the country financially.
Within the horse industry, horses are extremely expensive to maintain.  Not only is the horse itself expensive, but the costs amount from feed, housing, and veterinary bills.  When sending a horse to the slaughterhouse, the extra money goes to the horse industry.  Horse breeders who breed their top stallions with their brood mares sometimes aren’t able to sell their foals.  These foals are now a contribution to the rising horse population of unwanted horses.  Yes, some may sell as they grow older, but there is a constant overgrowth in the horse population.  In some cases, some unwanted horses may be neglected but this neglect will decrease due to the option of the slaughterhouse.  You either abandon your horse to starve to death or you send your horse to the slaughterhouse and make a little extra money.  The horses that people are no longer financially able to keep will be sent to slaughterhouses to add to the nation’s income.  Furthermore, the number of abandoned or sick horses has risen since the economic recession in 2008.  People just can’t afford to keep their beloved horse(s).  Economically, all the abandoned and sick horses in the world can’t live off public funding to be kept alive (“Horse”). Horses consume about 10-15 pounds of hay per day and with the price of hay as high as it has ever been, slaughter seems to be the most efficient path for these horses.    
Understandingly, horse is man’s friend.  From paintings and literature to industry and riding, horses will remain a part of life for man.  Horses allow us escape from life’s troubles as well as provide us friendship and love.  They allow us sport such as racing and showing that make up a person’s lifestyle.  This is the obvious reason as to why animal welfare groups argue from the horse’s standpoint.  Welfare groups such as Equine Welfare Alliance, Animal Law Coalition, and Animal Recovery Mission want to end horse slaughter in the United States (“Animal”).  Why do they just want it to end in the United States when other countries are doing well with horse slaughter?  America has taken steps back and this is the reason as to why we are not up to par with other countries such as Europe and Asia.  And when we did outlaw horsemeat in the United States, benefits shifted to Mexico and Canada.  These welfare groups argue that slaughter is evil and it’s not fair to the horse.  In all honesty, no one can measure the welfare of any animal.  We have no idea what they’re thinking; animal and human are on two completely different wavelengths (Amazingly enough, the horse is willing to let man into its herd).  But this law isn’t advocating to go out and eat horsemeat or to kill your own horse; it’s allowing a brighter tomorrow for the horse industry.    
Horsemeat is quite nutritional.  According to a German nutrition site, horsemeat contains more protein and less saturated fat than beef (“Horsemeat”).  The dressing percent on a horse is around 75% while beef cattle yield around 60%.  If the human population came to the point where horsemeat was the next step, I would eat horsemeat.  No, that doesn’t make me a traitor to horses, the animal I’ve adored longer than my cat who won’t die, it just means I’m ready to take the next step in the food chain if worse comes to worst.  I understand the human population is dramatically increasing and the food industry is busting their chops to provide food for all the mouths to feed.  The thought scares me if a major catastrophe were to happen to our crop that feed the cattle, sheep, hogs, and other livestock.  The question is who will be providing the funds for horse slaughter?  Will there be a tax on the exports to Europe and Asia?  How will all this affect the non-horse people?  I may not have all these answers, but I’d rather deal with the problem than complain about the problem.  Why not make a little profit in the end?  Horse slaughter will end up benefiting the country - if the country will let it.   

Works Cited

"Animal Law Coalition." U.S. Equine Slaughter Legal Again. Web. 01 Apr.

Gentilviso, Chris. "Horse Slaughter Ban Lifted: Congress Reinstates Federal Funding."
The Huffington Post. 29 Nov. 2011. Web. 01 Apr. 2012. <http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/11/29/horse-slaughter-ban-lifted_n_1119518.html>.

"Horse Slaughter Facts and Statistics." Basic Horse Facts for Experienced and First Time
Horse Owners. Web. 01 Apr. 2012. <http://www.greenhorn-horse-facts.com/horse-slaughter.html>.

"Horsemeat As Precious Nutrition." Pferdefleisch. Web. 01 Apr. 2012.


  1. I read this and then stepped away from the computer to (try to) compose my thoughts, to avoid sounding disagreeable. That is not my intention. This is merely my opinion.

    First of all, I eat meat. I wasn't raised on a farm where the slaughter of animals was commonplace for providing food, hides, or income. I was never fortunate enough to have a horse.

    Raising cattle, or pigs, etc. is, at least for me, dramatically different than having a horse. Having livestock that is primarily for the purpose of food, has it's place. I would imagine people who do this for a living, don't form emotional attachments to those animals, since it would be a detriment to their business, as well as to their emotional well-being.

    A horse, for the most part, is an animal that a person chooses to have, train, form emotional attachments to. For me, that's more along the lines of a companion animal, much like a dog, or a cat, only much larger and more costly.

    Perhaps if horses were raised (humanely) with the purpose of being a food source and not a companion animal, I might feel differently.

    I believe in humane euthanasia, for sick, or dying animals. However, the slaughter of what I consider to be a companion animal, would be akin to slaughtering my dog when it was no further benefit to me. I certainly couldn't do that, much less eat it.

  2. very well written and thought provoking.

    Aunt Anne

  3. As difficult as it is to contemplate, from a strictly economic viewpoint, it does seem as if horse slaughter and consumption is a viable option..
    I am an inveterate carnivore, love my steaks and bacon, etc. but as the world grows ever smaller and our food gets less and less healthy due to overproduction and chemical feeding etc often think that I might return to being vegetarian, as I was when younger..not only do I feel better when I eat less meat, it has become increasingly expensive and out of reach..
    I am recently retired and wonder how many of my fellow boomers will continue to consume meat in the same proportions as before. Many more young people are vegetarians than ever before, and viable farmland is being destroyed in N. America by the waste products of animals, notably pigs. I would assume that conservatively there will be less and less viable land for agriculture if the production of animals for food continues at this pace, and we will be forced to cut back on meat production, thereby raising the prices further..

  4. Hi. I hope you don't mind, but a friend showed me this post, and I tried to leave a dissenting opinion but it was too long -- so I will post it on my blog, and hope that you come over and read...thanks...