Horse Slaughter Alternatives

Can someone out there help organize this topic? When I read the comments it is challenging to get past the defensiveness. What I am looking for is NOT the reasons why you should or shouldn’t support slaughter. I am interested in people submitting OTHER IDEAS.

We all seem to agree that there is a problem with overpopulation. That is a start.

I suggested euthanasia as an alternative. It was very interesting to hear the feedback of the costs involved in the vet fee as well as the burial. If you know what it costs in your area please leave a comment telling those numbers below.

Slaughter seems to have been discussed as an alternative because of cost.

Please propose ideas, or even better provide links, to places that have offered viable alternatives to slaughter. If you are proposing ideas please include at least a rough idea of where the money will come from as this seems to be the strongest argument for slaughter as of now.


  1. Ella R Simonson on February 13, 2017 at 6:50 pm

    I feel that a great option is to rehome with another horse lover who you feel will take care of your horse could as well sell it to a stable or clinic,but if you don’t think that you will be able to take care of a horse or keep it don’t get it if you really feel it. i rescued my mini and it was going to have been brought to the slaughter house if i didn’t get him.his owner did not need or want him. As well couldn’t take care of him.he didn’t eat anything and as well he was abused they didn’t even let him all he does is eat because he is still scared of the privlige being taken away . I know I. would if I was ever in that situation i would sell or give him to a person I knew I could trust. If you are ever in one of these situations please take the humane way it kills me deeply to even think about my equine friends being killed.

  2. loriprophoto on December 18, 2012 at 9:41 pm

    Tainted horse meat is as dangerous for animals as it is for humans and any horse that has received Bute in its lifetime puts the consumer at risk, in fact it is banned for human consumption if the animal has received even one dose in its lifetime, it has no withdrawal period, as well as wormers and many other drugs that we routinely give our animals. Horses are not raised as food animals in this country. I am sure most zoos will think twice about feeding contaminated horse meat to its animals, that is why horse meat stopped being used in pet food in the 1970s in the USA.

  3. Mary on December 11, 2012 at 12:37 am

    I know this post is old, but I just wrote an ethical proposal for economic euthanasia. The most cost effective and environmentally friendly plan that I found would be to eithanize horses using a penetrating captive bolt or a well placed bullet. While the methods may sound horific, they are humane if done correctly and acceptable practices as defined by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA). These methods won’t contaminate the carcass, which would not require as deep of a grave, and should be cheaper than barbiturate overdose. If a program could be set up to donate the meat to zoos or large cat rescues it would greatly reduce the amount of horses being cremated or buried. It would also reduce the amount of horse meat being imported for zoos and rescues, as they used to obtain the meat from the slaughter facilities. It may seem like a cruel way to handle the situation, but it makes more since than wasting the animal completely. Some people may read this and be horrified, but I love horses and a decision like this would be incredibly difficult to make. At one time I thought I might have to make the decision to put down a gelding who was abused and had reverted to where he wouldn’t let me touch him and had kicked multiple people. Two years rehabilitating, lots of hard work, patience, and prayer, and he is now an 11 yr old boy’s 4h horse! (his mom is a trainer so he is in good hands should something happen, and he was always good under saddle) Any ways, I know what its like to have this come into the back of your mind and for me if I had to put a horse down for any reason other than a medical one, I would want its remains to be used to help another animal if possible.

    • Penny Bateman on December 18, 2012 at 9:28 pm

      A penetrating captive bolt is by no means a humane end to a horses life. Captive bolt only stuns. A bullet, yes, bolt, NO. Sorry, horrified, yes. Makes no “sense” to me.

      • Erica T on December 19, 2012 at 3:30 am


    • Lori Schmidt on December 18, 2012 at 9:34 pm

      Zoos are not an option either seeing as most of our horses have received prohibited substances like Bute and wormers throughout their lives, they are as dangerous to humans as they are to animals and this is why horses are no longer used in pet food. I am sure there are zoos who still feed horse meat but I am sure they make sure that the meat is not contaminated with any of these substances first if they do.

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  6. Jennifer Kirschenman on December 24, 2011 at 10:58 am

    I hate to say that In a small way I am glad that the ban was lifted, NOW HOLD ON, I know this is probaly making you red in the face with anger, However I would never send my horses to slaughter, But I have to support it, for this just means that PETA, lost a fight. They have been attacking the Dairy industry, Horse industry, Beef industry, and all aspects of animal farming. if PETA had their way, all People around the world would become vegens, and having animals on a farm would become obsolete, (sorry for spelling) But I am glad that the band was lifted for that it help protect the beef and dairy industry a little. We were dairy farmers for many years, and had to deal with Peta as far as dairies being inhumane places for cattle, However most dairies the cows could not possible have it any better, So this is a win for the farmers, It can be done, we just have to figure out how to make it more humane. And as far as the videos out there, You can’t believe just one, Most of the videos on Youtube, If you watch carefullly are just bits and pieces of the same one. I am sure there are someplaces that are good, These people that record this viedos just don’t want to show the good ones.

    Yes slaughter is hard to see for our equine friend, I agree with that, But not everything is what it appears.
    Thank you and sorry to offend any of you readers. Just voiceing my opinion on behalf of all farmers, no matter what animal you raise.

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  8. LINDA on December 1, 2011 at 6:53 am

    Link to Horse and Man

    Obama lifted the ban.

    Posted: 01 Dec 2011 01:59 AM PST

    I’m sure that you have all heard by now that despite campaign promises, the ban on Federal funding for horse meat inspectors has been lifted which now allows USA equine slaughterhouses to resume function – in as little as a month.

    • calico on December 1, 2011 at 4:53 pm

      A sad day for the horse industry, now that Obama signed the bill that takes taxpayer money to subsidize horsemeat production. Nobody wants to hear that American riding horses are unsuitable for human consumption per EU drug contamination (food safety laws). Nobody wants to think about what a huge waste of money a horse processing plant would be the moment the EU decides it’s going to enforce its food regulations. Why are so many people fighting for an industry that feeds no Americans, historically paid almost nothing in taxes, sold an unsafe food product, rewarded neglect, promoted theft, and generally was a blight on the community in which the plant was located?

      The alternatives to horse slaughter are simple. The hard part is convincing people they need to take personal responsibility for the horses they bred & bought. The solution is very simple: if you can’t afford to keep the horse sell it. If the horse is suffering, humanely euthanize it on the farm. No horse deserves this fate.

  9. Lyle Decaire on November 10, 2011 at 9:48 pm

    Horse Meat Industry Issues

    Stacy here are a couple of things to consider about the slaughter of horses.
    • generally horses are not raised specifically for slaughter. They are used in racing, on ranches and farms and for leisure activities(polo, riding stables, jumping, dressage, rodeo etc.) . I don`t know of any factory farms that produce horses for meat products.
    • horses go for slaughter when they are no longer useful, or their owners can no longer afford to keep them, or their owners pass away, or they just get old and/or sick.
    • in some municipalities, states/provinces there are strict regulations about the disposal of euthanized animals particularly big ones like horses and cattle. It is therefore more economical for owners to sell older, unwanted and/or sick animals for slaughter for meat products.
    • because it isn`t a purpose directed industry the regulations under which horse meat is produced and distributed are pretty weak. As a result the human or animal consumers of these products may be at risk.
    Whether we agree with it or not, at this time the slaughter of horses for animal and human consumption is legal. In order to make the process as humane as possible the following is required:
    • government regulation of the industry to ensure humane transport, handling and slaughter procedures.
    • inspection standards to ensure that horse meat used for consumption is safe and free of harmful pharmaceuticals.
    • education of the public about the responsibilities of horse ownership. Well intentioned people buy horses at auction for a couple of hundred dollars ahd the have no idea of the long term ongoing costs of the accommodation, care and feeding and potential veterinary services.
    • organizations in horse related industries need to make information more easily available to people who are considering owning a horse.
    In the end the responsibility for the humane treatment of horses, and all other animals for that matter, falls to each of us as individuals. Each one of us needs to take responsibility to do something; research the issues, talk to people about the problems(ranting doesn`t cut it); share information that may help solve the problems. Money can`t resolve this issue. Government can`t do it. Emotionally based opinions certainly can`t do it. There are now 7 billion people on this planet and we had better find a way to share it with each other and the animals that live here with us. This needs people with open minds and constructive problem solving skills to produce meaningful real results.
    As I have said before this is a complex issue and you are very brave to get this involved in it.

    • nancy mcmillan on November 20, 2011 at 4:58 pm

      Lyle- there is one solution that has never been tried:-end access to comercial slaughter which S1176/HB2966 will effectively do. The numbers dont lie. Even after horsemeat inspections in the US were defunded, the same levels of horses continued to be slaughtered. It was just done in Canada and Mexico instead. Horse slaughter does not reduce neglect- cases are up in Canada which has 4 slaughterhouses open. Horse slaughter is not an act of altruisim. Simply put, horse slaughter is a demand driven market. A glut of horses does not create people who want to eat horses, no matter how badly the marketing people want to believe it. In addition, there is a game changer on the horrizon- that is the EU passport system. The majority of US horses will be inelligible for the European food chain. There is no tracibility of what drugs our horses have been given because they are NOT raised to be food.. As a result, this will create an even larger glut than there already is. The pro slaughter side is going full steam ahead in spite of the looming loss of consumers. Bottom line is that slaughterhouses dont slaughter if there are no consumers for their product. Scary to think that the pro side is celebrating being able to breed/cull at former levels in the false belief that they will have people purchasing horsemeat right and left. The only real solution is to make it not an option.

  10. Susan Deming on November 9, 2011 at 10:50 pm

    Well…I don’t have any alternative for slaughter, but I sure don’t agree with putting a bullet in the head of an animal simply because I can’t afford to feed it. When you look at all the items in our everyday lives that include horse hair it becomes apparent that slaughter is a necessary evil…and no, not everything can be made with synthetics and do the same quality jobs. Here in AZ burial costs range from $100 (local guy with backhoe), $240 (recycling plant to come pick up and take to refuse dump) of $300 for the vet to put down and cart away beloved friend. As for the breeding end of it…I own two stallions. BOTH are foundation stock (both date back to the very first of each of their breeds). When all the sh** is finished and Obuma has succeeded in removing all horses from BLM property and shipping them to be killed because he can’t stand animals, and has encouraged all of our hay to be sent to China to support them sending it BACK to the US as food products, and convinced the EPA to ban storage of large quanitites of hay…then I will open these guys up for breeding because by then all the quality horses will be dead, the lame and infirm will be in rescues, all the studs will be geldings because some people think that if a horse has balls that he is mean. a nutshell…I”m neither for nor against slaughter..but I do understand its place in society.

    • Stephanie Billingsley on November 17, 2011 at 11:12 am

      Susan, I work with several rescue groups across our state and what you said about all the lame and infirm horses being in rescues is just not true. Lame and infirm horses are humanely euthanized. The horses that are up for adoption can be really nice horses. Several of ours have even gone on to make a name for themselves in the show ring. One of our very first rescue ponies, Dandy, short for dandelion because he looked like a weed, went on to win the McClay championship and wins first place in every hunter jumper event he participates in. Our proudest moments come from people who have searched for months for the perfect horse and finds them with us. Rescues are not about selling horses rather matching them with the right person. We disclose every bad habit or ailment they’ve had so there are no surprises or disappointments.

    • Lori on November 17, 2011 at 12:09 pm

      Susan do you really think that in order to utilize a horse’s hair you need to kill it? If horse hair is used so widely then surely there is a better way to “harvest” it other than slaughtering the animal? I would be interested to hear more on this?

      • Beverly Levitt on November 17, 2011 at 1:40 pm

        Apparently Lori she’s never heard of scissors.

  11. Erica on November 7, 2011 at 1:51 pm

    While browsing through one of my old ‘Horse&Rider’ magazines, I came across an article where Bob Avila talks about gelding. He describes how breeding should be an earned right(the stallion should prove himself). Also he speaks about how there are way too many people who own stallions,and should not. He explains how you can’t take them for granted&how he had an experience of being attacked by a stallion. He tells about he gelded one of his horses. And how the horse was a good stallion but now is a great gelding. I just thought this was a good example of why gelding is important with the problem of overpopulation. And this isn’t coming from just a person with horses,its coming from an experienced horseman who has been working around horses for years.

  12. Jes (@Serapheena) on November 7, 2011 at 12:44 pm

    The problem with euthanasia is more than being cost prohibitive…. I have seen many a vet refuse to euthanize an otherwise healthy horse at an owners request, making statements such as “give it away”. But the real down and dirty is in many cases you can’t give away a healthy broke horse. (I know from personal experience).

    Secondly is the cost In my area of OR it runs $350 for euthanasia at a clinic known for keeping costs down and $250 for the rendering truck to come get it. While many in my area have lots of property, we have rules that prohibit people from burying their horses. Mainly because of the ground water and the carcass created from the euthanasia process is toxic. Now if you are a lucky owner, you can shoot the horse and burying it yourself and I have heard of many a people doing that. Or others who have walked them out to the desert, shot them and left them to be scavenged. I completely am opposed to the idea of composting chemically euthanized horses as it posses a very real risk to the ground water, wildlife, etc. I suppose if shot, it’s an option, but a very stinky option and I sure wouldn’t want to be their neighbor.

    Lastly, I think the very real fact is that chemical euthanasia creates a toxic carcass. An environmental impact study should be done before unloading a plan to mass euthanize horses unless there is a ready plan to deal with the toxic carcass. Drug companies have been very clear the only safe method of disposal of a chemically euthanized animal is incineration. So, for those that want to offer that option, large scale rendering of those carcasses is environmentally damaging. You might be saving the horses from slaughter, but killing off bald eagles (already an issue see US Dept of Fish and Wildlife). If we euthanized instead of processed 100.000 horses a year who will become responsible for the costly environmental clean up? OR who will be creating incineration sites to ensure more damage isn’t done as a result from peoples personal dislike of processing?

    Personally, I see this issue less about processing and more about moving away from agriculture and the general ickiness that many people now find in the slaughter process. It’s a sad cultural change that seems to affect us more in the US than other countries. The word I like is “ethnocentric” and it certainly speaks to our wasteful culture who would rather waste something from a personal dislike than allow those who are culturally ok with it, the option to utilize it.

    • Stephanie Billingsley on November 9, 2011 at 1:31 pm

      I work with different rescue organizations and have allowed them the use of our family farm for burying their horses. I have researched the dangers of burying animals euthanized by chemical injection to ensure the safety of our land and wildlife. Everyone I have spoken to has said to use common sense; bury the bodies on a knoll and don’t bury them next to a creek or marshy area. Actually, the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service Fact Sheet lists that immediate burial of an animal chemically euthanized is preferred second to incineration.

      We are a wasteful culture not in that we don’t make use of the carcass of dead animals, if that’s the case then let’s send all the shelter cats and dogs to Japan, but that we continue to breed and raise animals only to throw them away as if they were trash.

  13. Theresa Manzella on November 7, 2011 at 11:28 am

    I’m a breeder, a trainer, reiner, and rescuer. Death is a part of life and we definitely need a better plan for our beloved horses. We have the GAO report that indicates that neglect and abandoment is up, and values are down. We’ve created a lose/lose for our horses and horsemen. Interestingly, the drug used to euthanize horses; sodium pentobarbital, is actually not FDA approved for that purpose. It’s the same drug that is used on humans for capitol punishment and is currently under review. This very well may be the reason we hear so many horror stories about ‘euthanasia’s gone wrong.’ Additionally, horses that are chemically euthanized become hazardous waste and many landfills will not take the carcasses any longer, and rendering plants are fewer and harder to find. My 501c3 has subsidized a “Final Act of Kindness” for owners struggling financially, emotionally and logistically, but unfortunately, it has become cost prohibitive and we won’t be offering it this winter. Our local vets have been very supportive of our efforts: cost for drugs-$65. Land fill disposal cost – $37. BUT is takes me a whole day using my equipment, truck and flatbed, to deliver the carcass to it’s ultimate destination at the land fill, and often on treacherous MT winter roads. With the market in it’s current condition, saddly, I simply can’t afford to offer this service/charity any longer. Each county has different burial regs and many people do not have the necessary land mass and water table for burial. I’ve noticed that nothing will grow on my old mares grave site. I’ve heard others say the same. A chemically euthanatized body cannot be left above ground as it is poison for raptors and scavengers. Another option we have in our area is composting the body of an animal that has died of causes other than chemical euthanasia. Bullet, and many diseases are acceptable, but chemical euthanasia is not. These obstacles have caused me to do a fair amount of research on the ramifications of chemical euthanasia and they are many and far reaching. Personally, I feel that humane harvesting of horses is a more viable option(emphasis on humane) for many reasons.

    • Stephanie Billingsley on November 9, 2011 at 1:08 pm

      Theresa that is a great service you provided in your area. I guess all states are different but in Ms it is the law to bury a horse within 24 hours regardless of whether it’s been chemically euthanized. I have also done research since we have donated land for several rescue organizations to use when euthanizing horses. We have had as many as 11 buried at one time and what I was told by our Dept. of Environmental Quality is that as long as it’s not buried on top of a water source or next to a creek then there is no risk of contaminating the ground. Someone mentioned that the grass hasn’t grown over the grave of their buried ethuanized horse, we haven’t had that problem, the grass has grown back as expected. According to the DEQ, once the body starts to decompose, the barbiturate is diluted to the point that it’s harmless. Most landfills in our area will take large animals that have been chemically euthanized and charge anywhere from $30 to $50. Most counties will also come out with a backhoe to bury the horse as a service to the public at no cost to the owner. I have no problem with people eating horse meat. I have a problem with the deceitful and predatory way that kill buyers do business, the inhumane way the horses are slaughtered and that we are selling meat not intended for food to unsuspecting consumers. FDA has proven that meat from animals given phenylbutazone is toxic to humans and according to the National Toxicology Program is a carcinogen. If we are going to continue to process horses for meat there needs to be a nationwide tracking system of all horses so that those given these medications won’t be slaughtered for human consumption. Everyone is worried about bald eagles eating meat from horses who are chemically euthanized but what about the people who are eating meat from horses given bute and wormers not intended for food animals.

    • Beverly Levitt on November 17, 2011 at 1:35 pm

      Humane harvesting???? Can you tell us where you have experienced humane harvesting of horses in a slaughter plant? What you mean is horse slaughter and there is nothing humane about it. A bullet is humane, euthanasia is humane, slaughter is horrific. There was a time when I had great respect for your reputation. But you’ve joined hands with folks who abuse their powers and spew propaganda……such as humane harvesting……Try telling the truth, this is about profit. Like the new found company created and owned by Sue Wallis for slaughter. And we every day horse folks wondered why a politician who didn’t own horses was in the thick of this. I read your article on animal rights folks and how you so wanted your death threat. More propaganda. Most of this nation is against what you stand for, you and your slaughter friends make up less than 30%. I’m no animal rights nut, but I do believe that an animal that you spend the time with to earn it’s trust, it serves you, carries you on it’s back, has a higher intelligience than a dog, will die trying to please you, will fight in war and helped build this Nation deserves better than inhumane slaughter. Never mind the lack of consideration or caring about toxic meat. I hope you and your group feel proud of your accomplishments to date by buying off dirty politicians. proves my point. Just know the dance ain’t over and sooner or later humanity and humaneness wins.

    • Beverly Levitt on January 12, 2012 at 9:17 pm

      Theresa ……….I find it curious that you say nothing will grow where you buried your mare. I’ve put four horses down here using chemical euthanasia on my rescue this past year. All were buried, all have grass growing where they lay. I’ve had many horses put down by chemical euthanasia in my life time and never have I experienced this in the past or present. Nor do I know anyone who has. I might add I’m a retired animal tech, so have seen more than the average person experiences in chemical euthanasia.

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