Originally Posted by Addie
We know that cows, lambs, etc are slaughtered for their meat. But are the horses ones that are old and sick? I doubt they are raised for the same purpose as beef and other meats we put on our table.
Exactly which go to slaughter varies. Obviously, those past any condition for working or riding or too crazy to handle and who are not kept on as companions/retirees will go to auction and be bought for slaughter. But an economic downturn can change the profile. A couple of years ago, sound horses were being abandoned and dumped or sold off cheap or taken to auction where there were few buyers. But last time USDA could look at such things, almost all horses taken to slaughter were in good condition at the time.
Buyers bid on horse sold in mass auctions specifically to obtain slaughter horses. They can generally outbid horse rescue organizations. The horses mostly go to Mexico (transport conditions are worse than the worst slaughter house), by far the largest producer of horse meat. A lot of the Mexican plants are EU-regulated, so I would guess Mexico is the usual start of the horse meat chain for Europe. US imports of beef from Mexico has grown substantially, and much of it is "processing beef," deboned cuts intended for grinding, etc. And we don't test for horse, so I don't think anyone really knows if it's all beef.