Illegal Horse Slaughter

The black market horse meat trade refers to lucrative underground businesses who slaughter horses for their meat, to sell for human consumption.

Not to be confused with legal slaughterhouses, the black market horse meat trade is associated with backyard operations involving extreme cruelty and suffering. When the horses met death, it is in a torturous manner that they are often butchered for their meat while still alive!

The slaughtering of the horse happens using various careless and brutal methods. Many horses all strangled with ropes and are stabbed in the jugular vein to bleed out. Before dismembering the horse, they have their vocal cords severed with dull knives to muffle their bloodcurdling screams. Other horses have their tendons slashed to restrict movement, are stabbed in the heart, or set on fire.

The high demand for horse meat contributes to a cultural trend, delicacy, and a string of misconceptions. Some believe horse meat increases the male libido or serves medicinal values such as cures for blood disorders without any scientific evidence. On the contrary, tests have only shown to be a danger to the consumer’s health.

Horse meat causes cancer, aplastic anemia in children (permanent bone marrow damage), and congenital disabilities due to the drugs given to American horses. 

As racehorses are the most common prey to the horse meat trade, they are pumped with dangerous drugs that taint their blood, which affects their meat, thereby making it unhealthy for human consumption.

Illegal animal slaughter farms are often the main culprits of killing horses for their meat. Horses are stolen, bought cheaply at livestock auctions, and discarded from the back of racetracks when broken down or injured. Some are even acquired from ‘free to good home’ ads on Craigslist.com, posing as horse lovers.

The black market horse meat trade is a gruesome illegal business that has been freely operating over the last fifty years. The selling of horse meat is one of the economic backbones of these slaughter farms due to the potential profit and a high supply and demand ratio. Coupled with a lack of law enforcement, this has provided a formula for a thriving underground business.

ARM documented the estimated value of each horse killed for meat to provide an understanding of the severity of this issue and gauge the profits made.

Our investigations reveal that the average horse used for slaughter weighs approximately 1,000 pounds. On average, 400 pounds of the animal’s original weight is stripped and sold at a rate of USD 7~40 per pound, making a profit possible anywhere from USD 2,800 and more.

The price of the meat depends on:

  1. The age (or tenderness) of the horse.
  2. Availability of the horses
  3. Whether the slaughter farm is in a high or low demand neighborhood

ARM’s investigations, presence, and results are making grand strides in exposing these heinous crimes and putting an end to them altogether.

To date, our organization has been responsible for several arrests of horse killers and was also heavily involved in the co-writing of The Good Horse Slaughter Act of 2010. This legislation makes it a felony in Florida for any person to buy, sell, transport, kill a horse, or possess horse meat for human consumption. The penalties are a minimum of one year in jail and a $3,500 fine.

 Good Horse Slaughter Act of 2010 is a groundbreaking animal cruelty law in the United States passed on July 1, 2010. It was a collaboration of ARM and then State Senator Victor Crist, Florida State Representatives Luis Garcia, and Joseph Abruzzo.