The article excerpted below is thoroughly researched and expertly written. It talks about horse slaughter in Australia, and gives important insight into the people who send horses to their deaths in a slaughterhouse.
While you or I may hate them and what they do, there is quote from a trainer that “it’s a dirty business but someone’s got to do it.” Yes, right now, somebody does.
We can blame the breeders, the trainers, the owners, the doggers (called killer buyers in North America), and the butcherers themselves. But what about the people who eat horsemeat? What about them? When are they going to be singled out and held accountable for the barbarous act of horse slaughter? It is after all their appetite for horsemeat that really drives this cruel and sickening trade.
It is basic economics. When the demand for horsemeat ends, so will the industry that supplies it.
Excerpts from a report written by CRAIG COOK for Adelaide Now
Lee Marsham scours the catalogue with an expert eye as keen as any bloodstock agent buying for the top of the market. But his targets are any horse with a reserve under $400, elderly mares that have missed getting in foal a couple of times in succession, young horses with poor race records, or unraced horses that on breeding should be offered at a higher price but which have flaws in their build.
“If I chuck $300 into the ring and no one goes over the top of me I know I’ve judged it right,” Marsham says. He comes away from that May sale with 23 horses, bought under the name of his Port Wakefield property, Saltbush Stud.
Marsham is not buying these horses to race, to ride or to breed. They are all to be slaughtered and sold to France, Belgium and Japan, where their meat fetches up to $100/kg and graces plates on the tables of fine dining restaurants. And, it is possible, it may be coming to a restaurant near to you. Last month, the Western Australia Minister for Agriculture and Food, Terry Redman, approved the slaughter of horses for human consumption.
Lee Marsham has driven well over 15,000 horses to a final destination at the meatworks since landing in Australia from England 52 years ago. The 69-year-old has been dealing in the “noble beast” ever since he walked 303 horses from Dawson Valley in Queensland to Narrabri, New South Wales – celebrating his 21st birthday on the seven-month journey. Just don’t call him a “dogger”. The term is Australian vernacular – with a strong derogatory undertone – for someone who buys horses to be slaughtered at a knackery, primarily for dog food. “I don’t like the name dogger, because I’m not a dogger,” Marsham says with vehemence in his soft Norfolk brogue. “Everything goes to the meatworks for human consumption.”
Horses are not farmed specifically for meat here [Australia]: horse meat generally comes from the feral horse population or failed or retired sports horses. There are about 1.2 million horses in Australia with about one third classified as brumbies or feral horses. Each year between 30,000 and 40,000 horses are processed for human and pet consumption, with most coming from the thoroughbred and standardbred (harness) racing ranks.
“People have things with horses that they’re silly about,” says Marsham. “They’re overly sentimental. We eat cows and pigs and sheep, why not horses?”