Commentary: Will reinstating horse slaughter in the U.S. improve horse welfare?

Horses are suffering horrific animal welfare issues and rangeland is being irreversibly damaged in the aftermath of legislation that prohibits horse slaughter for human consumption.


By Courtney L. Daigle, Opinion, BEEF Magazine

Jun 12, 2019


Daigle, Ph.D., works in the Animal Behavior & Welfare Laboratory, Department of Animal Science, Texas A&M University.


It is in the best interest of the horse to reinstate horse slaughter for human consumption in the United States.


Here’s why: Abolition of horse slaughter in the United States for human consumption has eliminated one of the management tools needed to provide horses with good welfare. This legislative action has created an unwanted horse problem, and may result in horses being abandoned, abused, or neglected.


Horse owners have fewer options to dispose of horses that are no longer wanted because they are old, sick, unmanageable, or fail to meet expectations. Wildlife managers can no longer use horse slaughter as a means of non-native species population control and has resulted in overpopulation of feral horses that are damaging the ecosystem – to their own detriment.


Horse slaughter for human consumption is practiced in Canada and Mexico. The 150,000 horses per year that are sent to slaughter from the U.S. face welfare challenges including long transportation durations, transportation that is not under APHIS oversight, and slaughter outside of USDA jurisdiction.


Re-instating horse slaughter for human consumption would provide benefits to the U.S. economy, environment, horse owners, population managers, and most importantly, the horses.


Horse slaughter is big business ...


Ecosystem damage and population control ...


Horse euthanasia without slaughter is costly and complicated ...