Slaughter tools. Google image.

Shocking neglect of horses revealed at abattoir amid row over horse meat burgers

UPDATE: Care2Petition calling for prosecution of the slaughterhouse workers.


Cross-posted from the Huffington Post UK

Slaughter tools. Google image.
Slaughter tools. Google image.

Shocking undercover footage which reveals appalling animal welfare conditions at a horse abattoir has prompted the Food Standards Agency to investigate.

The footage shows animals being beaten and neglected as well as alleged illegal procedures of slaughtering horses destined for European food markets.

Two slaughtermen seen in the footage have had their licences withdrawn, the FSA said.

The film was taken at Red Lion Abattoir near Nantwich, Cheshire after an eight-week investigation by the Hillside Animal Sanctuary group.

It comes amid public anger that some of the biggest supermarkets have been selling beefburgers and other products that contained horse meat.

The abattoir footage shows horses being beaten with an iron rod to encourage them into pens. Some are crammed into the slaughter pens in pairs and on one occasion in a group of three, and are then stunned together.

Horses are also hit with sticks to goad them into slaughter pens.

Under the Welfare of Animals Regulations 1995, horses should not be slaughtered in sight of one another because of the distress it causes.

Both the FSA and the RSPCA charity are investigating.

An FSA spokesman said it was made aware of the footage which it says shows animal welfare offences carried out by slaughtermen in the abattoir.

“The FSA believes it is important that action is taken against people who commit animal welfare offences. So, after viewing the film the agency immediately withdrew the licences of the slaughtermen featured abusing animals in the footage. This means they cannot continue to slaughter animals,” the spokesman said.

“The FSA is also reviewing the footage and carrying out further investigations with a view to a potential prosecution.”

The most serious concerns identified in the footage are several occasions of more than one horse in the stun box at the same time; excessive use of a stick on horses; hitting horses with a rope, the FSA said.

Craig Kirby, head of approvals and veterinary advice at the FSA, said: “I was shocked by the footage and that is why we took immediate action to make sure the individuals involved could not continue to slaughter animals. The FSA takes animal welfare at slaughter very seriously, and we will always investigate and take action when we see breaches of the legislation.”

Wendy Valentine, founder of Hillside Animal Sanctuary, said: “We have given a home to more than 200 horses in the last year and we have more than 700 horses all together.

“We just thought we would go and see what we were rescuing them from, so we decided to go and look at one of the country’s biggest slaughterhouses.

“It was really traumatic. It was just so harrowing and horrifying.”

An RSPCA spokesman said:

“The footage is shocking and upsetting to watch. With the Welfare of Animals (Slaughter or Killing) Regulations 1995 in mind, we have concerns that horses appear to be in the stunning pen at the same time rather than individually, as the law requires.

“We also have concerns about some of the animals that appear to be injured. We have requested a copy of the unedited footage with a view to investigating.”

Read full report >>

7 thoughts on “Shocking neglect of horses revealed at abattoir amid row over horse meat burgers”

  1. Just to set it straight. The methods used in Mexico are not illegal. They don’t regulate that, not surprising, remember horse tripping, steer tailing, etc. They are lawless when it comes to animal welfare.


  2. I feel like the entire Slaughter Institution should be shut down during the investigation. Those two men were the ones that just happened to be video taped.. If it is common in two employees, it is probably common throughout the entire operation. There seems to be a great deal of illegal activities in “horse killing” in Europe as has been uncovered in Mexico and Canada, as well as getting American Horses to these horrific places.. 1700+ missing and presumed slaughtered Wild Horses, multiple accidents of transports of horses to slaughter, and lies and deception in horses purchased and taken to slaughter instead of to safe homes. The whole operation STINKS!


    1. I have seen video footage from our horseslaughterhouses in Alberta, Canada and Quebec, Canada…IT IS THE BIGGEST FORM OF ANIMAL ABUSE THAT I HAVE EVER WITNESSED…we have to stop these creeps and make our government accountable for this slaughter…Canada gets so many horses trucked in from the U.S. for slaughter.The whole operation does STINK to HIGH HEAVEN..anyone in favour of not eating beef, pork, chicken and any other thing slaughtered in slaughter houses for a month?


  3. The slaughtering of horses should stop all over. It’s cruel, inhumane and plain horrific for those poor horses. I feel so bad for those animals and words can’t describe my disgust with people working in this area.


    1. Well said and YES, cruel Horse-Slaughter should come to a halt, everywhere. We in Canada are supporting the BILL C-322 and will continue until the easy-button of slaughter has vanished. Keeping in mind, the overbreeding of equines, when theres already a crucial lack of homes. t/y ~


      1. Canada slaughtered 82 Thousand horses last year…OUR GOVERNMENT NEEDS THEIR ASS KICKED…BIG TIME…It seems that greed and money is the only thing our conservative government wants…DON’T THEY KNOW THAT HORSES ARE NOT FOOD and we the ordinary people are feed up with this bullshit…leave our horses alone…ALREADY…HAVEN’T YOU DONE ENOUGH DAMAGE WITH THE CULLS OF OUR WILDHORSE POPULATIONS….sent to slaughter…makes me very disgusted…they need to be protected and managed through adoptions. DON’T WE HAVE ENOUGH DAMN WILDERNESS THAT THEY COULD BE LEFT ALONE …SOMETIMES OUR HUMAN SPECIES ARE SO GREEDY AND WANT ALL THE CROWN LAND FOR CATTLE…this disgusting practice must end once and for all.


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