In Australia, there are approximately 30 knackeries that slaughter horses for pet meat, and two abattoirs that slaughter horses for human consumption. Most horsemeat for human consumption is exported, however some of it is consumed in Australia. The information regarding this is classed as “commercial-in-confidence” and therefore not available to the public.
This unavailability of information has created an information gap. A gap that has now been filled.
In the absence of forthcoming information from slaughterhouses, their responsible bodies and the racing industry, the only way to determine the true number of racehorses sent to slaughter was to identify them at the slaughterhouse.
the exit or retirement of racehorses from the racing industry has become a contentious issue in recent years, as horse racing welfare issues have fallen into the spotlight and their social license comes into question.
For some time now, the number of horses who become wastage and sent to slaughter has been up for debate between animal protection groups and the racing industry. To date, the industry has not provided any definitive figures of wastage.
Every year in Australia, approximately one-third of racehorses are retired from racing – the fate of most of them is unknown.
In just one of the two slaughterhouses in Australia that kills horses for human consumption, undercover investigations have revealed an estimated 4,940 racing thoroughbred and standardbreds are killed every year, however, the figure is much more likely to be well over 5,000 as many of the horses may not have been identified due to poor lighting, the fading of the brand, and/or the direction the horse may have fallen.
Studies commissioned by the racing industry claim 1% of racehorses are sent to slaughter despite racehorses routinely appearing at slaughterhouses and knackeries. The one slaughterhouse investigated alone exceeded that figure in just one week.
Every year, approximately 3,000 mares are retired from the breeding cycle yet are not accounted for in any industry statistics.
The compulsory retirement form (AR.64J) implemented in 2014 by Racing Australia offers no transparency and does not require sufficient information so that the data can be verified. If the horses are reported as rehomed, Racing Australia has only recently requested contact details as to the horse's new guardians however there is no evidence to show this is being checked and no requirement to provide details when a horse is moved from that initial guardian. The horse's ongoing existence cannot be verified or their welfare monitored.
The racing industry currently raises approximately 21 billion dollars every year in betting revenue alone yet does not have a mandatory retirement plan for the horses.
Many of the horses found at the slaughterhouse were still listed as ‘active’ or ‘retired’ on Racing Australia.
The horse meat for human consumption market is reliant upon a steady supply of young, healthy horses provided by the racing industry.
Many foals that are born into the racing industry are deemed unsuitable and can be discarded before they need to be formerly registered. These foals are not accounted for in the statistics and help mitigate the true number of horses discarded and presumed killed every year.
The racing industry uses these horses to provide entertainment and gambling, and it heavily relies on public support. Our documentary and report challenges the industry’s assurances that racehorses are loved, treated well and that most are rehomed.
So far, the number of racehorses slaughtered at Australia’s only other human consumption slaughterhouse and approximately 30 knackeries that kill for the pet food market remains unknown, however, through our previous investigations there is no doubt a substantial portion of the many thousands of others who vanish from the industry each year endure such a fate. (https://horseracingkills.com/campaigns/wastage/)
Undercover investigations have revealed at least 37% of horses who vanish each year from the racing industry are killed based on this one slaughterhouse alone, without considering the other Australian slaughterhouse and approximately 30 knackeries - a far cry from the industry's claims of 1%READ OUR FULL REPORT
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