British Race Horses Being Slaughtered for Meat Exports in Record Numbers

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British Race Horses Being Slaughtered for Meat Exports in Record Numbers

By Robin Lawless on This Dish Is Veg
February 2011

Horse meat carcasses are worth up to £600 and are exported to other European countries and locales, where they are considered a delicacy. Horses are also sent to knacker’s yards to be used for meat to feed hunt dogs and their bones to be made into glue.

Unfortunately, the practice of slaughtering race horses in Britain after they have outlived their usefulness at the racetrack is a common one. Recently, due to the harsh economic times, a record number of race horses are being sent to the slaughterhouse in Great Britain, according to a report by the Guardian newspaper.

According to the paper, figures released by the government reveal that last year 7,933 horses were slaughtered for meat in England, Scotland and Wales, marking a 50 % increase over the previous year.

Animal advocates say the huge increase in the number of foals being born every year to supply the racing industry is a major factor driving the slaughter of horses. Race horses only compete for three or four years, but live up to thirty years beyond that, creating an excess of horses that are costly to take care of becoming a financial drain on their owners. If owners cannot sell the horses, which has become more difficult due to the recession, sending them to the slaughterhouse becomes a viable option.

Horse meat carcasses are worth up to £600 and are exported to other European countries and locales, where they are considered a delicacy. Horses are also sent to knacker’s yards to be used for meat to feed hunt dogs and their bones to be made into glue.

Many animals are abandoned by their owners and taken in by animal sanctuaries, which are already struggling financially. Some owners opt to have their older horses put down rather than see them sold into an uncertain fate, possibly ending up at the slaughterhouse.

Animal advocates are blaming the racing industry, which has been struggling to make a profit in the harsh economic climate, for not taking care of the horses after they have stopped racing. The industry has countered that claim by pointing out that it pays for about 200 horses to be rehabilitated per year so they can be ridden normally and found new homes.

Andrew Tyler from Animal Aid, an animal rights organization that is working to expose this horrific practice, told the Guardian “There is this notion that the British cherish horses but we need to think more about the fate of horses in our culture. It’s a lot darker than we like to think.”