Sunday, March 31, 2013

More $1 horses at the auction

We spend a lot of money in Snohomish county seizing and then feeding up horses that are starved or otherwise maltreated.  Thousands of dollars per horse; in recent cases, the cost-per-horse has exceeded $6,000.    In a recent rescue, Snohomish county spent $115,000.   Folks, we don't have that kind of money to burn. 

So what happens to those horses?  Well, lets look to see what random horses sold for on 3-30-2013 at the Toppenish Livestock Auction, in Toppenish WA. 

$1 Horse auction 3-30-2013 from bruce king on Vimeo.

It's time that we either decided that horses are pets, and license them and treat them like we do cats and dogs -- hold them for a week or two, and put them down if they're not adopted, and if they're brought in injured and unclaimed, immediately put them down... 

$40 horse auctioned 3-30-2013 from bruce king on Vimeo.
Or decide that they're livestock, and should be handled and treated as such, which includes a commercial market and slaughter. 

$50 horse from bruce king on Vimeo.

Our half-assed approach to horses in this county means that we squander hundreds of thousands of dollars to bring a horse back into good condition, when the market value of the horse is $1.  or $40.  Or $50. 

What's the alternative?  How about we license horses.  $100 a year a horse license fees.  If you think $100 is steep, you haven't priced hay or grain. 

Use the revenues to fund horse rescues and reimburse the county for costs associated with horses.  If we end up with a surplus, devote that money to trails and improvements related to horses. 

14 comments: said...

Couldn't agree more Bruce. Here in Alberta we have an added problem with so called "wild" horses. Actually, there are no wild horses in N. America, they are feral horses. Busily destroying precious habitat that would otherwise go to native species of ungulates. Yet, we have groups raising money to protect them and people donating money to that cause instead of other worthwhile uses. Eating horses is a good thing. Had some wonderful horse charcuterie in Italy last fall. Happily ate it.

Jonathan said...

Have you found this auction to be a good place to pick up stock?

Bruce King said...

I've found that it's a good way to track the wholesale price of animals; this auction has the best market for pigs, and the area that it's in is a pretty good place to find good quality forage for sale at reasonable prices; alfalfa and hay mostly. So I'll usually go over, attend the auction and watch the prices; maybe buy something -- I purchased 5 500lb steers at this auction -- and then pick up some hay for the way back.

There's a pretty good "flea market" animal sale area next to the auction; mostly it's mexicans who are selling small animals; chickens, rabbits, ducks, turkeys, and that's fun, too. Nice way to kill a day and get some work done, too.

The horse auction part happens after they sell all of the cattle for the day and before they start selling pigs, sheep and goats, so I have to sit through it anyways.

Jonathan said...

Great info. Thanks! It is good to raise the $$ sense of the animal rescue. I wonder how many of the horses sold at auction will go on the meat market? Maybe half? (Great blog--we are just starting out and testing the waters--I've gotten a lot of great insights here)

Anonymous said...

You apparently haven't researched this subject enough to know that US horses are given drugs that are not safe for meat animals. The EU has declared that they will not accept horse meat that originated in the US anymore. You also might want to check into the slaughter conditions that horses are subject to (especially "salami" horses Gold Forest). I'm sure that all of your meat animals are humanely handled and slaughtered. That isn't true with horses. I'm Ok with putting down horses that are old, lame or can't be taken care of. $6,000 per rescue horse is too much.

Becky said...

I know you're making a point about resources, etc, etc....

But man. That little roan colt could be really something, with just a little bit of groceries.

If I were there, I would have picked him up, regardless of how the hubby felt about adding a horse to the budget.

On a similar note to the whole "spending lots of money on one horse", a friend and I were discussing it, and it turns out that's an actual technique used by rescues. By dropping way too much money rehabilitating one pathetic, hard-knock case instead of 5 or 6 not-so-bad cases, they can create great marketing and increase the donations tenfold.

Bruce King said...

Redhorse: Some horse owners do indeed inject illegal or toxic materials into their horses, and those substances persist all the way through the food chain. They're present even if the horse is buried or composted. The solution there is to stop horse owners from irresponsibly using substances.
The EU hasn't banned horse meat from the US because there is no horse meat supply from the US -- we do not slaughter horses for human consumption in the US at this time.
The solution to humane slaughter of horses is to bring the slaugtherhouses back into the USA and under US inspection. Currently those horses in the video are probably already trucked to slaughter facilities outside the US and slaughtered out of our sight and inspection system. That's bad news for the poor animal. Packed into a truck for a day or two with no food or water isn't a better outcome than a local slaughter plant. The end is the same, what happens on the way is not.
You agree with me that we shouldn't be spending huge amounts of money to rescue horses; Our system isnt' working as it is. I think it's a better end to have a horse killed and then eaten than just killed and wasted. Don't you?

Anonymous said...


The drugs aren't illegal, they are prescribed by veterinarians. US horses ARE slaughtered and sent to Europe, they go to Mexico and Canada. The EU has recently said it will not accept US horsemeat, and they have a passport system in place that will be implemented in Canada and Mexico in June.

We, horse people, don't want to stop giving our horses some of the drugs that are dangerous to humans. Those drugs help the horse when it's injured, gelded, raced too young etc... Although I know many people consider us horse people to be greedy and wasteful because we won't let them eat our horses, there are billions of dollars spent in this country each year on living horses, saddles, bridles, blankets, feed, veterinarians. The meat market can't possibly compete with the money that horse lovers spend on their horses.

I also raise beef cattle, so I am not against slaughter, but the slaughter methods they use on horses were designed for cattle and they don't work. The captive bolt doesn't work on a horse, and in some plants it has been documented that 40% of the animals they slaughter are awake and aware when they skin and gut them. I wouldn't allow my cattle to be slaughtered that way, not even a chicken. As a beef producer, I wouldn't sell tainted meat to my customers, that's one of the reasons they buy from me.

Hey Becky, you stalkin me girl? You're right about that roan.

Becky said...

Redhorse: Found this blog through a friend of a friend of a friend (can you tell I was avoiding the laundry again?)

You and I share identical views on slaughter. I know that a year ago they said that Temple Grandin was going to design a horse slaughter facility in Missouri - the whole process got sidetracked (I think? I haven't researched it recently) after activists started trying to shut it down.

If there were a humane horse slaughter plant (designed WITH HORSES IN MIND) I wouldn't have a problem with it.... it's the fact that they're currently put down with all the finesse of trying to strap a dog into a human electric chair that bugs me.

Bruce King said...

Redhorse, I know that horse owners like to juice their horses and that you and other horse owners think that it's perfectly reasonable to do so. They do it for all the reasons you state.
I'm saying that even if they're not eaten, having the horses juiced up introduces those very same chemicals into whereever the horse ends up - buried, composted, rendered, whatever. When we euthanize a horse via injection the same thing happens. while bullets are toxic, it's easier to recover a bullet than a quart of phenobarbital.
In a recent case where horses were euthanized by injection 7 bald eagles were poisoned by the toxic corpse. It would have been much better, and no eagles would have been lost, with a gunshot.

The horses that we're talking about are the ones that no one wants to spend any more money supporting. We've gotten every dollar for bridles, saddles, feed and care we can from those horses, and their owner has decided to dispose of them.

The owners actually have to pay the auction $25 to put the horse into the sale. The $1 horse cost the original owner $24 to sell...

If the horse is slaughtered for consumption even more economic activity is generated. The shipping guy, the slaughterhouse, the meat distributor, the meat retailer and the consumer or restaurant are supported there, too.

With respect to slaughter, do you really believe that the mexican slaughter route is preferable to a US slaughter, or canadian slaughter?

If there's no EU market for horsemeat I can gaurantee you that will direct virtually all horses to the mexican/central american market. And that is a terrible thought.

Anonymous said...

All of my old horses have been put down by a vet, if you added all of the injections together it wouldn't be a quart. And they don't use phenobarbital anymore, and the drugs they use do decompose. Who ever poisoned the eagles was very irresponsible and they are the ones who should be fined.

I don't agree with any of your conclusions. There isn't a darned thing I can do about Mexico or Canada. If I wanted to meddle in a foreign country I would probably try to put a stop to the way little girls are treated in the middle east, India, Africa, Asia,and Mexico too. All of the profits from US horse meat goes to foreign countries, those foreign owners have left behind an environmental disaster, and haven't paid taxes here. No, I don't care what happens to them. If you really want to eat horse meat, it is legal for you to buy, kill and butcher a horse.

This is the last I'll say about it because I probably won't change your mind, and I know you won't change mine.

Bruce King said...

Actually, if there's a market for horse meat, more of the money for the horses will stay in this country, and less tax dollars will go to the rescue of the horses. They'll go to auction and that's the last we'll see of them.

I've seriously considered buying a horse to eat. In washington state, it's explicitly legal to kill and eat horses. Check out

Becky said...

For the record, horse tastes terrible (gritty, grainy, and just a weird flavor).

Redhorse - I really love the way you think. You and I would really get along in real life, I'm thinking. Have you ever checked out Punjammies? Love that company.

Bruce King said...

Millions of people thought horse was tasty all across the eu. Couldn't tell it apart from beef.