The Silent Echoes In the Feedlots ~ Horse Slaughter

I am sharing this note today, regarding the horrific conditions that American wild and domestic horses, ponies, mules, burros and donkeys fall victim to in transport, feedlots and at slaughter plants where they are butchered for their meat and sold to foreign markets.
Documented numbers of equines from the United States that perished to slaughter in Canada and Mexico exceeded 146,000 in 2014 and already exceeds 90,000 ytd for 2015.
These numbers include equines that are lost to the live animal export trade where they are shipped in giant crates that are fork lifted onto large ships for long journeys with limited or no food or water; only to be slaughtered for markets in foreign countries upon their arrival.
In addition to inhumane treatment at every level of their journey to their brutal ending of slaughter, at no point are these equines tested for levels of banned or residual chemicals. Chemicals that are not ever administered to other species of livestock intentionally raised for meat in their tissues; nor are accepted humane animal husbandry practices used in their handling. This results in inhumane treatment, lack of veterinary care for many animals with injuries and respiratory illness, no euthanasia when needed, nor humane care on any level of their journey to their brutal ending of slaughter.
While many horses that go to slaughter are from the racing or breeding industries, thousands are individuals’ horses that are discarded for various reasons. Among the tens of thousands of American equines that perish are retired carriage, camp or trail string horses, rodeo horses, farm work and logging horses, lab horses, PMU(Pregnant Mare Urine) horses and their foals; as well as America’s wild and free roaming horses. They are all victims of the slaughter industry and the kill buyers that profit from their suffering by contributing a never ending supply of livestock that yields drug and medication tainted meat into food exports originating in the United States need to be exposed.
As horrific as the horse slaughter process itself actually is, the untold suffering many horses, ponies, mules and burros go through from point of sale and transport to feedlots; or then to slaughter is astounding. Year around, including in the fall before winter and in the spring, countless equines are dumped at auctions and lots, often thin and undernourished from ravages of winter and not enough groceries. Every Spring and Summer, young foals can be seen with their dams (mothers, mares) at auctions all over the United States.
When mares are purchased by kill buyers at auctions, the foals are often left behind and orphaned. Some perish due to stress, scours and dehydration because they have been separated from their dams who they depended on for nutritional and emotional sustenance. Others are clubbed or shot and killed as they are considered by many in the business to be of no value. The fortunate tiny innocents make their way into the hands of 501c3 rescues who depend solely on donations; or private individuals who nurse them back to health. Those that survive may eventually be offered for adoption. Because so many mares and foals are dumped at auctions every year, there are too many for these rescuers to save them all.
Some foals that go with the mare and end up in a feedlots, are sometimes mixed in with all types of horses. They can easily be injured in trailers or large feedlots. Foals in the feedlots often do not thrive due to stress and dehydration that their mothers also suffer from. Some pregnant mares abort their foals, whose frail bodies are trampled in cramped quarters. While ponies or smaller horses generally are not accepted for slaughter due to weight, they along with senior equines, as well as injured, foundered or sick animals suffer in the disease ridden feedlots. They often compete for food and water; causing their conditions to worsen.
Because of these crowded, stressful conditions and lower immunity; horses of all ages, including stallions, geldings, mares, younger horses, burros, ponies and donkeys are also exposed to and often contract contagious viruses and respiratory illness. They commonly suffer from fever, colic, fungal, parasitic or bacterial skin infections from the wounds they have endured; but receive no veterinary care. Stallions may be gelded in unsanitary conditions or are sometimes abandoned as they will not be accepted at slaughter plants.
Some of these animals are networked and sold to the public for hundreds of dollars more than the kill buyer purchased them for. Many have been used hard in their lives, others are gentle and well trained. Young equines with limited experience, or those that have vices from mistreatment will require patience and horsemanship in order to overcome them. Once removed from feed lots, these animals must be quarantined from other livestock for 21-30 days and often require antibiotics for contagious respiratory illnesses they were exposed to at the feed lots. Many need veterinary or hoof care due to injuries during transport, in the feedlot or from neglect, abuse or founder they may have endured in their previous lives.
For those left behind, whose illnesses or injuries cause them to weaken to a point that they are suspected to collapse in trailers to or be rejected by the slaughter plant; they are sometimes destroyed or abandoned by kill buyers in remote areas or enclosed lots because they then are of no monetary value whatsoever to them. Some of these locations are hours away from any town or city, or there is no rescue intervention or assistance for them; and they are left to die of starvation and dehydration.
Mass graves have been found where animals who suffered before their deaths have been buried; while skeletal remains of animals have also been found right where they dropped in the feedlot among live animals in various stages of suffering. Those who endured hunger, thirst, complications from injuries or fever from their illnesses and needed help the most never received a kind human hand or the mercy of euthanasia in their last days.
For those that leave the kill buyer feedlots and ship toward the slaughter processing plants: The animals are loaded on carrier trailers or large crowded tractor semi trailers, where they will not receive food or water and remain in the cramped, crowded trailers for the duration of the journey; and many become injured. Regardless of whether they are hauled in bitter, freezing wet cold or blistering heat toward slaughter plants in Canada and Mexico, there is no place to unload for rest, food or water until they reach the holding lot for inspection before crossing the border on the last leg of their journey to be slaughtered. Many laws are commonly broken with each load of equines that suffer immensely during the transport to slaughter process.
1) DOT and USDA Laws are often broken by driving too many hours. CDL drivers hauling slaughter bound animals too long without resting themselves have caused serious highway accidents, maiming/killing people and animals they are hauling. 2) Regardless of country horses are slaughtered in, horses are not provided rest, food and water at required intervals that are set forth in the Transport to Slaughter Act because places to unload may be miles from the main transport to slaughter routes (and they cost MONEY and TIME) or they simply do not exist on the roads the haulers travel. The majority of equines hauled in and outside of the United States travel hundreds of miles in crowded trailers (year around) for anywhere from 16, 24 or more hours without food, water or rest. This violates United States “Transport to Slaughter” Laws.
3) All equines crossing state lines should also have accompanying documentation that can include Health Certifications and Coggins Papers (negative test results for Equine Infectious Anemia, a disease transferred by mosquitoes)
Testing would require individually drawn blood testing for each equine and general health inspections.Requirements vary by state; however there is often no place to unload the animals to even cross check the paperwork for positive identification. This is why it is not possible for State Patrols or any other inspectors to check any documentation whatsoever against a crowded trailer load of loose horses, who also may not have distinguishing markings, going across state lines (over 100,000 annually) in transport trailers. This is why these laws are commonly not enforced. For more information on publicly available information pertaining to documented violations and slaughter issues.
The fate of these weary and sometimes sick and injured souls is now sealed because their ownership has been transferred to the slaughter plants and they can no longer be helped. Equines with a Canadian slaughter plant destination ship from the Kill Buyer lot many hours straight across the border; being unloaded only for a few hours for inspection. For those animals shipping to Mexico: Upon arrival at the crowded Export Pens closer to the border, they are only unloaded long enough to meet the regulations; where again, they are forced to compete for food, water and shelter, if it exists. They are then reloaded in less that 10 hours to cross the border to Mexico toward their destiny at the processing plants; ending their journey to the unthinkable brutality surrounding their suffering and death that awaits them.
Regardless of how well regulated equine slaughter processes are, there is no way to make their slaughtering humane; nor was there when it was legal in the US for the purpose of human consumption. No designs or processes have changed; the processes merely moved across the border into Mexico. As with slaughter plants in Canada, once the equines are unloaded into small lots, they will be herded into the plant, following one after another; with no way to turn back or escape as they are prodded forward to the kill box and slaughter area.
Unlike with other species of livestock, often several attempts (multiple bone shattering strikes) are required to render equines unconscious; resulting in immense suffering of each animal prior to its slaughter and death. When a horse is in this extreme fear state, not only do they have explosive strength; but their head continually moves with a range of motion during the multiple captive bolt or 22 type fire arm shots used to render them unconscious. Multiple head injuries occur before the strike that finally renders them unconscious. This is due to the anatomy of a long neck and strong flight instinct in an equine; who’s head is a moving target as he desperately tries to flee and avoid the excruciating blows to his skull.
It is important to note that the captive bolt device nor 22 type firearm bullets are used to actually kill the equine because during the slaughter process, the heart MUST be pumping in order to bleed out of the animal’s tissues prior to slaughtering them. As many as 4 minutes have been documented that a horse was conscious during & after these injuries to render him unconscious. Film has shown a horse flailing on its side in the kill box after regaining consciousness in excruciating pain from the horrific skull injuries it had already experienced.
Once the chains are applied to the back legs of the animal now on its side in the kill box and the throat is slit; the horse then goes down the production line (now unconscious) hanging upside down by the hind legs. This animals is behind the horses he saw and heard screaming before him, as he smelled their blood before his own death experience.
For different reasons, pregnant mares have been accepted into the slaughterhouse and are slit in the abdomen when they are vivisected; and close to full term foals have been photographed hitting the slaughterhouse floor. They don’t survive the trauma; and are piled with waste from the slaughter process.
Clearly, despite any pro horse slaughter argument, there is and can be NO humane horse slaughter in the United States or abroad. In addition to the humane issues already discussed, the captive bolt and 22 type fire arm shots were also used in the United States when slaughterhouses for the purpose of human consumption were operational in the United States. In the past, regardless of what authorities witnessed during planned European Union ( EU ) inspections, documented unplanned investigations revealed the harsh reality that brutal activities in these commercial horse slaughter plants that process many animals are heinous and inhumane, regardless of the country the plant was in.
Note: Because of the January 2015 ban of horse meat from slaughter plants in Mexico going to Europe, Canada has sometimes been flooded with hundreds of equines headed for slaughter every week this year, because the kill buyers get a higher by the pound price. However, equines going into Mexico and South American countries are still slaughtered with the meat going to South American countries and others including Japan; where the EU(European Union) doesn’t regulate that commodity. The handling and slaughter methods are very brutal.
While we should direct attention to animal welfare issues affecting all livestock, those that try to justify horse slaughter as an equalizer or solution to manage the “unwanted horses problem” in the United States must realize that equines (unlike other livestock) are not raised for the purpose of human consumption. Slaughter is only the band aid, ***NOT*** a solution for “getting rid of” horses that don’t make the “cut” due to over breeding and other exploitive equine industries~Additionally experts are against humans (regardless of the country) eating meat tainted with chemicals that cause health problems including cancer.
It is important to note that discussions are looming to potentially open slaughter plants in the United States again. With this, there will be new international implications that will be revealed; with regard to shipping United States horse meat overseas that is tainted with medications (due to its very source). Because the sources of equines for these slaughter plants will not change, morally there are repercussions for our nation to knowingly ship off tainted meat of any species.
For a visual, put commonly used fly spray insecticide, wormer, bute , tranquilizer or other chemicals banned for use in animals for human consumption on a dinner plate. That is what is in horse meat being shipped off to foreign countries by virtue of what the horse has been exposed to in its life. Only a small percentage of the >140,000 annually slaughtered American equines have *not been exposed to these chemicals (BANNED for use in food animals, while others have a 6 month residual period by law).
The phrase “From Stable to Table in Seven Days” says it all because from the point of purchase, that is how quickly many equines are slaughtered. If horses slaughter were legalized in US for human consumption, those poisons still are there, except more tainted meat may possibly stay in the US, instead of ship to European countries. In some pro slaughter circles, it has been suggested that our school children eat it (if slaughter were to be legalized for human consumption) in the United States. But even if our children don’t eat it, other people in South America and European countries do and it is dangerous due to the common medications used in American Equines.
Chemical and biological warfare itself is designed on the very premise of harmful agents entering the human body. Yet tens of thousands of pounds of horse meat that originated in the United States is purchased at grocery stores and served to school children and people in institutions. They are served this tainted meat in European countries including France, Belgium and Japan.
What about USDA statutes and inspections? There has always been complacency with regard to enforcing regulations and enforcing prosecution for USDA violations to begin with. The humanity and morals that a society has can be seen in how it treats its animals. This is a heinous industry that is no way justified by any Animal Welfare or Slaughter Animal Laws in the United States.
Breeders who keep only the best of the best, and whose registries sometimes REWARD them for breeding/registering with incentives; as well as individuals who allow horses to breed and then dump them at auctions and feedlots need to be exposed. But equally to blame, the culture needs to change and individuals that contribute to and profit from equine exploitation and suffering need to be held accountable. Just like the environmentally dangerous act of dumping tankers of slaughter house blood into soils and water tables, disposal is simply disposal. It is *not* a solution to a the bigger problem~ nor are events leading up to and the slaughter act itself of unwanted living breathing equines people have given away, sold cheaply or dumped at auctions a solution for poor choices.
NOTE: The atrocities animals of many species endure at *illegal slaughter facilities that are periodically discovered and disbanded are too many to be mentioned.
Please read more here:
Also we are losing a precious part of our American Heritage~ Mustangs (Wild Horses and Burros) have been slaughtered and exterminated now for over a century. At the turn of the 20th century, over a million roamed our landscape. Now there are less than 30,000 in the Wild. Tens of thousands of Wild and Free Roaming Horses, mules and burros on federal lands and in state forests/parks have been brutally rounded up and separated from their family bands, destroyed or gone to holding facilities where they are incarcerated for months or years. Many have gone into the slaughter pipeline and kill pens at an alarming rate. Unwelcome on lands that were intended as safe haven in the Free Roaming Wild Horse and Burros Act of 1971, they need US to be their voice.
Reference: Wild Horse Annie 
Overview of The Free-Roaming Wild Horse and Burros Act of 1971 Public Law 92-195 (includes Burns Amendment information).
By Mary Brown Reference: Wild Horse Education

What can you do about this?

Please monitor the growing list of H.R. 1942 SAFE ACT supporters here: H.R.1942 – Safeguard American Food Exports Act of 2015 

Contact your State’s Representative and Senators and request or thank them for their support. Find Your Representative at

Find House of Representatives here as well: Directory of Representatives

In order to OPPOSE Horse Slaughter of all equines, we must urge politicians to
Please urge them to support H.R. 1942 Safe Act legislation and to support more severe penalties for animal cruelty in their state.
Read more about Safe Act Legislation here:
Follow progression of the SAFE Act (HR 1942) here:
OPPOSE H.R.3172 & S.1845 WILD HORSE OVERSIGHT ACT and lobby to Repeal the Burns Amendment
(introduced in July, 2015)
Express that: “the future of America’s Wild Horses and Burros is of huge concern”.
This Legislation should be OPPOSED.
If passed would put every single Wild, Captured, Free Roaming, Blm, non Blm (Bureau of Land Management), or “Feral” Equine (all 80,000) of them in the *VERY SAME* predicament as the herd in the following areas:
And Many Others
Therefore, we DO NOT want individual states or pro slaughter Indian Tribes to control what happens to our Wild or Free Roaming Horses. It is extremely doubtful that individual states will budget money for holding facilities or adoptions. It is more likely they will destroy them, allow them to be removed or use them as a revenue generating commodity and sell them for slaughter. This and the inhumane methods used in the slaughtering of equines is why the H.R. 3172 and S.1845 legislation should be OPPOSED.
Follow progression of this legislation here:
If you would like to utilize a letter I have prepared to contact politicians from your state, please see the link to that letter here:
(you can copy/paste the text from it for this purpose)
This document was written by Kimberly Sheppard on October 21, 2015. Photo courtesy of Animals’ Angels. This document will be updated as needed.

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