Meat-packing is more humane for unwanted horses

by MICHAEL SWICKARD via Rio Rancho Observer

Michael Swickard

Michael Swickard

Especially out West, horses have a special place in our lives. Personally, any day I get horse snot on me is a good day. Along with my love of horses comes a sense of duty. This includes endorsing the idea of a horsemeat packing facility in Roswell.

It is not my first choice to send viable horses to the packers, but right now in America there are about 200,000 unwanted horses. They will die one of three deaths: packers, left to die by the side of the road, or in Mexico where who knows how humane they will be treated.

The reason for this glut involves the bad economy along with the skyrocketing cost of feed. If I had my way, I would care for all of them. But a look at my bank account tells me it is not possible.

Society has turned its back on the plight of the horses for a number of years. Several years ago, Congress pulled the funding of the horsemeat packing facilities around the nation. The politicians felt righteous. They did not know that they made things much worse for unwanted horses. The horses had to be meat packed in Mexico without any guarantee of humane treatment.

Now there is a proposed horsemeat-packing facility in Roswell. This has people outraged. They have convinced the media to use the word “slaughter” when meat-packing is done with horses rather than beef.

The headlines decry the slaughter of horses. It is a perfect opportunity for politicians to imitate the south end of a northbound horse. It is not slaughter; it is meat packing. The use of the word “slaughter” is political.

Unfortunately, there is little that can be done to save the hundreds of thousands of unwanted horses. This is like having to put down unwanted dogs and cats. No one wants to do it, but it must be done because there is no way to care for the millions of unwanted pets.

The only thing worse is to leave them on their own to perish in horrible conditions. It is likewise with the unwanted horses. Some horses are being abandoned like dogs and cats are abandoned, but our society has no way of dealing with the horses.

So, thousands upon thousands of horses will die in Roswell or they will die of malnourishment or they will be meat packed in Mexico. No amount of wishing and hoping will change this fact. The only question is, if there is going to be any positive in the death of the horses? Could something good come of the death of a horse? Well, there is lots of valuable meat.

Where is the meat going? It will not be consumed by Americans. But there is something Americans love. They love to go to zoos to look at lions and tigers. Horsemeat is used by zoos as part of the large cat diet.

The budgets of zoos are stretched so horsemeat is great because beef costs much more. So for everyone who does not want any horsemeat packing, go protest the zoos since that is the end of the line for the horses.

I have a friend who was almost arrested because of these same kinds of know-nothing do-gooders. One of them spotted a horse on my friend’s ranch and called the authorities. A deputy sheriff told my friend that he was there to arrest him for horse cruelty. “Just look at that horse,” the deputy said.

My friend was incredulous. Luckily a brand inspector was there and said to the deputy, “Do you know how old that horse is?”

The deputy had no idea. The horse was 38 years old and still alive because he was my friend’s first great horse and my friend decided to let him live to the end of his life.

Incidentally, 38 in horse years is about 130 for humans. No wonder the horse looked bad. Think of how 115-year-old humans look.

The meat packing facility in Roswell is a better way to deal with unwanted horses. The horses will die either way.

We can be humane or we can condemn horses to needless suffering. And our zoos do need meat.

(Dr. Michael Swickard hosts the syndicated radio talk show “News New Mexico” from 6-9 a.m. Monday through Friday on a number of New Mexico radio stations and through streaming. Email:

About Land & Livestock Interntional, Inc.

Land and Livestock International, Inc. is a leading agribusiness management firm providing a complete line of services to the range livestock industry. We believe that private property is the foundation of America. Private property and free markets go hand in hand—without property there is no freedom. We also believe that free markets, not government intervention, hold the key to natural resource conservation and environmental preservation. No government bureaucrat can (or will) understand and treat the land with as much respect as its owner. The bureaucrat simply does not have the same motives as does the owner of a capital interest in the property. Our specialty is the working livestock ranch simply because there are so many very good reasons for owning such a property. We provide educational, management and consulting services with a focus on ecologically and financially sustainable land management that will enhance natural processes (water and mineral cycles, energy flow and community dynamics) while enhancing profits and steadily building wealth.
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