The following report was made by the Horse Council of British Columbia, Canada in response to the numerous articles exposing the increase and cruelty of horse slaughter taking place there. You will see that this Horse Council, just like the horse councils this side of the border, are pro horse slaughter.
September 19, 2007 – PRESS RELEASE – Horse Council BC Reports on “Controversial” Equine Issue
(ALDERGROVE) – Horse Council Executive Director visited Bouvry Exports, Ft. McLeod, Alberta on August 7, 2007
What is Bouvry Exports?
They are the slaughter house and processing facility for horses in Alberta
Purpose of the trip?
To get a first hand view for me what the operation is all about and the conditions. I have received numerous phone calls and emails giving me very different opinions and versions as to what really happens at that plant. I was already in Calgary and decided it was a perfect opportunity to see for myself.
Here are my comments and observations of what took place and what I witnessed:
I arrived at 10:30 a.m. and met with Ton Niers the General Manager of the plant. He used to own the plant himself and slaughtered beef and pork. He then sold it to the Bouvry Brothers however remained as general manager. He has been with the company for many years and seems to have a high regard and respect for the Bouvry family. Alain Bouvry lives in Paris and is responsible for the sales and distribution of horse meat in Europe and Claude Bouvry lives in Calgary and in responsible for the plants in Ft McLeod and in Quebec.
Ft. McLeod is not only a slaughter facility but also has a feed lot attached. The Quebec plant is strictly for slaughter and processing and is about 40% of the size of the AB plant.
After a few minutes of chatting, Ton took me and showed me the whole facility and here are some points of the business:
· They currently have 165 employees
· They slaughter and process 5 days a week
· Bouvry owns 14,000 acres in the area
· They have their own feed mill on site and process 95,000T of feed each year
· As well as the hay they get from their own places, they still need to purchase 80,000T of hay
· There is a separate farm about 3 minutes away where the pregnant mares, mares and foals are kept
· They do not slaughter pregnant mares. They keep them to full term.
· They also slaughter and process bison (about 150 per every 2 weeks, elk and ostrich)
· They slaughter and process horses 4 days a week at an average of 250 per day
· They receive only 2500 from B.C. each year (about 50 per week)
· They receive 60% of the horses from the US. I asked if they would be getting a lot more now that the plants in the States were shut down. Ton did not know exactly as they cannot really take on too many more at this time
· They receive all the horses from auctions and keep and feed them until they are the required weight for the market that they are destined for.
· Any sick ones are checked and must be kept separate for up to 30 days to make sure that if they have been put on medication that the 30 day withdrawal time is followed
· They have 6 CFIA inspectors and vets at the plant everyday
· Currently they slaughter and process 230 – 270 horses per day (250 avg)
· They are killed using a .22 (which has been documented and researched to be the most humane way)
· The facility operates as a business and supplies horse meat for European and Japanese markets
· The biggest buyer is France and they require animals that are lean at 1400 lbs
· Spain and Switzerland and next and require animals that are lean at 1100 lbs
· Italy for the most part only wants colts (for the veal market)
· Japan prefer the big draft horses where the meat is fatter and marbled
· The meat is for the most part cut and shipped in quarters
· The processed meat is first trucked in containers to the airport which it is then air freighted to the various countries. Last year alone they spent $18 million dollars in air freight costs
· The horses that arrive are separated into various pens and are kept and raised until they are ready for their destined market
Some of my observations of the plant and facility:
· The plant and feed lots were all very clean
· The horses had plenty of food and water
· There was plenty of room for them to run around and move in
· The bedding was very dry and clean (I was quite surprised at that)
· The bison are kept at the end beside all the horse paddocks
· There is a ¼ section beside the feedlots where the animals go out to graze as well
My own personal comments:
I would like to close by saying that I think that seeing the Bouvry plant was a very good decision for me. They are definitely running a successful business and doing it in a professional and humane way. Now at least I have a good understanding of what really happens there and I now know why the people at AFAC (Alberta Farm Animal Care) told me that the stories I hear in BC are not true and that it really is something that I needed to see for myself. The general manager mentioned that the Alberta SPCA is there once in awhile too just to check on things and he will be sending me this information. I think that I would also like to get his ideas about the facility and then perhaps talk to our BC SPCA people because they for one don’t necessarily have the right information about what happens there and the real numbers from BC. I also think that it would be a good idea for the BC and AB SPCAs to be able to speak about the issues together.
I wish to thank Mr. Niers for the tour and for answering all of my questions and for truly giving me a better feeling and understanding about horse slaughter and the European horse meat market.
Thank you for taking the time to read my report and should anyone have any further questions, I will do my best to answer them.
Mona Desy, Executive Director, Horse Council BC, 604-856-4304 firstname.lastname@example.org
The Canadian Horse Defense Coalition says:
a. Any facility being inspected will be on its very best behaviour during the time that visitors are there; they will bend over backwards to look good, so unannounced visits work better.
b. Nice that 6 CFIA inspectors are present, but they are interested in food safety, not the welfare of animals.
c. Veterinarians should be interested in animal welfare, but too bad that these ones work for the food industry, too.
d. One of Horse Council’s objectives is: “To support and stimulate interest in horse breeding and all other aspects of the horse industry.” What happens to the foals who are bred and don’t quite make the grade? Would an end to horse slaughter actually work against the objectives of the Horse Council?
e. There we go….60% of the horses are allegedly from the U.S. Please send this to every U.S. horse advocate you know!
f. Who researched the .22 and decided that this was the most humane method? Picture a terrified horse in a dark, bloody killing box, and some assembly line worker trying to aim for the correct spot on a thrashing head…good luck. Mona doesn’t say whether she was invited to watch the slaughter process. Maybe she should have done this instead of believing every word she was told? Before assuming that equine slaughter is humane, she should be there to see them tremble and try frantically to get out of the killing box. Better go back and get the truth on the most important part of the tour, Mona. Then look us in the eye and tell us that slaughtering horses is humane.
g. Good idea about getting the SPCAs together on this. The horses need all the help they can get–from the animal welfare sector, not those employed by the food industry.