sad horses

South-American slaughterhorses

AIA reveals the calvary of South-American slaughterhorses for Belgian consumption. Belgian horse meat companies responsible for mistreatment.

Belgian horse meat companies are responsible for the severe neglect and mistreatment of ten thousands of horses, that are slaughtered in Sout-America. Companies that own slaughterhouses in South-America and sell South-American horse meat to Belgian supermarkets, keep those mistreatments going. That shows from a new investigation of the animal rights organization GAIA. Today, at a press conference in Brussels, GAIA presented a film on the circumstances of transport and slaughter, that was made by a special investigation team in Mexico and Brazil, in the autumn of 2009. The images show how each year many thousands of dehydrated, very skinny and starved horses are transported for days in overloaded trucks, over 2500 kilometers far, to Mexican and Brazilian slaughterhouses. During the long journey, they do not get anything to eat or to drink.

A lot of animals are transported from the United States. Emaciated en very weak horses get electric shocks, so they would keep standing on their feet. Also severely wounded and mistreated animals are transported over huge distances, from cattle markets to slaughterhouses, in trucks that are almost falling apart and that are completely inappropriate for the transport of horses.
The Mexican and Brazilian animal welfare laws only exist on paper, and the slaughterhouses that are licensed for the export of horse meat to the EU, violate the EU laws for the protection of slaughter animals.

GAIA calls on consumers not to eat the meat of horses that were slaughtered in South-America, and asks Belgian supermarkets to stop selling South-American horse meat.

Emaciated and dehydrated

GAIA’s film shows how horses that cannot stand on their feet anymore, are dragged into a Mexican slaughterhouse. In Brazilian slaughterhouses, horses arrive emaciated, dehydrated and starved after a calvary in overloaded trucks that lasts for days. Some horses do not even make it to their slaughter. The spokesman of a Brazilian slaughterhouse with which a Belgian importer works, confirmed to the GAIA investigators that a lot of horses arrive there completely dehydrated. Hij told them that in one week’s time, 48 horses died even before they were slaughtered. Also severely wounded animals are slaughtered. And horses that are edge-thin, to be ground as dog food.

Most of the horses that are slaughtered in Mexico, are transported from all over the United States to Mexican slaughterhouses in double deck trucks, which are illegal in Mexico. For the transport to Mexico, each year thousands of horses are gathered in Texas, in a place owned by Beltex, a branch of the Belgian horse meat company Multimeat. A lot of animals succumb there, and they have no cover against the extreme heat or the heavy rainfall at all. Images of that feedlot show suffering animals, dissolving corpses and carcasses and bones of horses. These circumstances make you not only wonder about the animal welfare in this company, but also about the hygiene.

Commercial interests

Belgian horse meat companies, like Velda, Multimeat, Chevideco and Equinox, possess horse slaughterhouses in South-America or do business with them. In 2005, Belgian imported nearly 20.000 tons of meat of (South-)American horses, that have to undergo an unbearable calvary for the commercial interests of those companies. That meat is destined for Belgian consumers, but is aslo reexported to other EU member states.


“These Belgian companies carry an important responsibility”, says GAIA president Michel Vandenbosch. “They claim to cherish animal welfare and they pretend the meat of South-American horses is of a superior quality, because the animals there supposedly lead a life of luxury, and because they can enjoy the freedom in the fields, are fed well and receive excellent care. But reality differs dramatically from their idyllic stories. We hold these companies responsible for the unbearable depravations thousands and thousands of South-American horses have to go through, because they are the ones keeping these malpractices going.”


Also in Belgian supermarkets, horse meat from South-America is for sale. As long as South-American horse meat is bought and sold, the mistreatments revealed by the GAIA investigation will go on. That is why GAIA is asking these supermarkets to stop selling horse meat from South-America. GAIA wants to discuss this with the supermarket chains involved. They too have to take responsibility, according to the animal rights organization: “It is possible that supermarkets sell horse meat from South-America not knowing that the animals are suffering there”, Michel Vandenbosch explains. “It can be that their suppliers are lying to them, although you would expect a supermarket chain to demand certain guarantees concerning animal welfare and the health of the animals. But once they do know the real story behind the meat, they have to draw their conclusions. This kind of meat can hardly be recommended to consumers as quality meat.”

Guaranteeing that animals are treated well in countries as Mexico and Brazil is practically not possible. Consumers can impossibly check themselves how slaughterhorses are being treated in South-America. In the given circumstances, GAIA calls on people not to buy horse meat coming from South-America.

We suggest contacting the government of these countries, animal rights need to be learned within these countries. Likely they just don’t know that animals deserve rights like people and have feeling and emotions just like us. The education level for these country leaders are less then most high school Americans and in most cases they are good people that just need to learn more about humanity.

Countries involved:

Belgium – For buying the meat
Argentina – Abusing the horses
Brazil – Abusing the horses
Mexico – Abusing the horses


ALOP has been helping animals all over the world since 2007.

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