There are no currently operational horse slaughter houses in the United States. Horses are being shipped across the borders to Canada and Mexico for slaughter for the human consumption of the horse meat.
Horses shipping to slaughter in Canada and Mexico must pass the border for inspection. They are categorized as slaughter-bound and a charge per load is administered ($25) for Canada. Horses might also be shipped across the border as "feeder" horses. These horses are not going directly to slaughter, but to a feedlot, awaiting slaughter. A different charge is administered for this category, as well as other horse categories (note, I observed on paperwork for one of our horses shipping to Woodbine that it was written the horse was not for slaughter). This charge is "by the head" rather than by the load. There is a fear that if Federal legislation is passed, then horses will simply be shipped across the border as feeder horses. If killer buyers attempt to falsify their border paperwork, they will be subject to the Federal False Claims Act.
Slaughter-bound horses cannot ship in double deckers in the US. They can in Canada. Horses shipping for non-slaughter can ship in Double Deckers in the US. Thus those crossing the borders to Canada can ship in Double Deckers if heading to a point other than the slaughterhouse, a feedlot for example.
Slaughter houses get the majority of their horses from contracts they provide to kill buyers. Kill buyers operate in the US to satisfy the demand for the contracts in Canada and Mexico. The large area of North America and dispersement of horses requires this type of process for procuring horses. Horse slaughter in much smaller countries (UK for example) more of the horses slaughtered are dropped off by their owners. UK also has a law to prevent live shipment to mainland Europe for slaughter-bound horses.
The beginning of this report provides good insight into the overall market for horse meat from slaughter plants in Canada and Mexico: A Study of Equine Slaughter/ Abuse Patterns Following Closure of Horse Slaughter Plants in US
Canadian Slaughter Houses
The market for Canadian slaughtered horse meat is mostly Europe, some Japan (shipped live), and a small amount is eaten in Canada. Some horses are bred for slaughter in Canada (Bouvry breeds slaughter horses). However, since the closing of the US slaughter plants, the majority of horses slaughtered are shipped in from the US.
There are seven federally licensed horse slaughter houses in Canada. Five of the seven plants are EU approved: Canadian Slaughterhouses Update 3/09. They are:
Viande Richelieu - QC
Kour Holdings - BC
Natural Valley - SK (Contracted by Cavel's Belgian parent company, Velda LLC, within a week of the closing of Cavel) Appears to have been closed down in Spring 2009
EU approval is required in order to ship horse meat to Europe.
The two remaining federally licensed slaughter houses are:
Norval Meats - ON, was slaughtering in 2009 through early June, and then seemed to stop.
Les Cerfs De Boileau - QC
Canadian Food and Inspection Agency: CFIA is charged with overseeing the slaughter process for the federally licensed slaughter houses.
Natural Valley, in the Province of Saskatchewan, has recently been exposed for its inhumane practices: Horse Slaughter Investigation Feb to May 2008
There are also smaller, provincially-approved slaughter houses. These slaughter houses can only sell their horse meat within their province. They are not overseen by the CFIA.
Mexican Slaughter Houses
Slaughter-bound horses cross the Mexican border at Santa Teresa, NM, Eagle Pass, TX (Animals' Angels Investigation, Eagle Pass Texas-June 2008) and Diploma Programme Socorro, TX where the majority of horses cross the border between El Paso TX and Mexico. This facility is run by the Texas Department of Agriculture. Unlike exporting horses to Canada, the border crossing requires an on - off load process with a switch in haulers.
Unlike Canada, where horse meat is only consumed in few places and is considered a healthy alternative to other meats, horse meat in Mexico is consumed as a poorer substitute for other meats. Some slaughter plants are licensed by the EU to ship horse meat to Europe. More provincial slaughter houses have no such licensing and need for licensing as their market is local.
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6/30/07 CAVEL FRIDAY JUNE 29th 2007
BC HS Report - Revealing Information ABR 10/2/07
CANADIAN FEEDLOTS - AMERICAN OWNED ABR 9/23/07
Will Canadians stomach a horsemeat industry? Article about Natural Valley Farms in Canada (9/4/07)
Horse slaughters taking place on the border San Antonio Express-News 9/30/07, by L Sandberg
Horse Trafficking for Slaughter Must Stop President and CEO of The Humane Society of the United States, Wayne Pacelle, reaction to SA Express-News story. Pleading to pro-slaughter side to NOT stand in the way of ban.
Horse slaughter evokes outrage San Antonio Express-News 10/2/07 Follow up-story by same reporter, L Sandberg.
Demand: Europe and Japan
Some problems in Sweden: Microchipping compulsory for EU horses