horses awaiting slaughter

Other issues: Dairy Production, Horse Slaughter and Barn Fires


Some areas of growing concern within the food animal industry:

Horse Slaughter

Since the slaughter of horses for meat ended in the United States in September 2007, the number of horses killed for meat in Canada has risen significantly. From January to September 2008, 59,828 slaughter-bound horses were imported to Canada from the United States, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Agriculture Canada reports that from January to September 2008, 84,288 horses died in Canadian slaughterhouses – 71% from the U.S. Horse meat from Canadian slaughter plants is exported across the world, with most going to parts of Europe and Asia. A small percentage remains in Canada for consumption in Quebec.

In addition to many thousands of U.S. horses, feedlots for fattening horses contain former race horses and saddle horses – all intended for slaughter for meat. In the past, large numbers of slaughtered horses came from the production of pregnant mare urine (PMU) for hormone replacement therapy by pharmaceutical giant, Wyeth. In recent years, however, the decline of PMU production has reduced the number of horses from this source.

Horses continue to be transported to Canada in double-decker trucks, despite the suffering caused to horses by vehicles with ceilings so low the horses cannot stand without their heads hung low. As a result, many endure head and eye injuries. Horses may be legally transported in these conditions for 36 hours without water, food or rest, in addition to a five-hour food-withdrawal period prior to transport.

CBC-TV’s, The National, did an exposé of a Neudorf, Saskatchewan, horse slaughter plant which showed extensive cruelty, including illegal transport of unfit, pregnant and injured horses, and lack of oversight during the unloading of compromised animals. Undercover footage showed inadequate stunning practices resulting in up to 30% of the horses being butchered while still alive, and horses killed in the presence of other animals. See the video here.

As horse imports have increased, so have kill plants. Canada now has seven horse slaughter plants – in Quebec, Ontario, Saskatchewan, Alberta and British Columbia.

Canadian horse slaughterhouses

CCFA occasionally receives calls from U.S. citizens asking how they can contact Canadian horse slaughter plants, fearing a particular horse is bound for slaughter in Canada. That information is available on the website of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, but is not easily accessed. To make that information readily available, here is a link: http://tinyurl.com/y88432k

Download our fact sheet on horse slaughter.

The Barn Fire Crisis in Canada

Action is needed now to end the massive loss of animal lives in Canadian barn fires. In 2008, more than 30,000 pigs died in Manitoba alone. By mid-July 2009, the Manitoba toll already exceeded 35,000 animals killed in barn fires.

Animals in farm buildings are not afforded adequate fire protection in Canada. Basic fire prevention measures, including smoke alarms and sprinklers, are not required in the national farm building code.

As factory farms increase in size, so do the risks to animals. Fire safety standards for farm buildings focus on human occupancy. Yet thousands of animal occupants, often helplessly confined in cages and crates, cannot be rescued when fire breaks out.

In May 2009, CCFA and Animal Alliance of Canada petitioned the National Research Council of Canada’s Standing Committee on Fire Protection for improved standards in the Farm Building Code of Canada – 1995.

In July, CCFA and two other animal protection groups met in Winnipeg with senior Manitoba fire officials to discuss a proposed fire standard for farm buildings. While some important improvements are being suggested in Manitoba, smoke alarms and sprinklers will not be required in most instances.

The proposed Manitoba standard calls for sprinklers only when there are 75 human employees, which is never the case in animal agriculture operations. Tens of thousands of confined farm animals are not considered “occupants”, and thus will not be protected by sprinklers. Smoke alarms would only be required when the building size exceeds 1000m2.

The new Manitoba standard would apply only to new farm buildings, and would not require retrofitting of existing barn facilities. Older Manitoba barns – those most at risk for fire -- would not be covered.

Please visit our sister-site PreventingBarnFires.com and see our Fact Sheet about barn fires.

View CETFA's new video on Canadian barn fires

CETFA's document Stop the Live-Burnings!

Submission to Manitoba Fire Commission on regulation of farm buildings (July 6, 2009)

Letter to Standing Committee on Fire Protection about barn fires (May 6, 2009)

Take Action

If you are concerned about barn fires in Canada, contact the Standing Committee on Fire Protection, Canadian Codes Centre, Institute for Research in Construction, National Research Council of Canada, Building M-23A, 1200 Montreal Road, Ottawa, ON, K1A 0R6. Express your concern about the inadequate national standard which does not adequately protect farm animals.