Equine Science Update
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A recent study highlights concerns about the welfare of horses transported long distances by road for slaughter.

In a letter published in the Veterinary Record, Dr David Marlin and others reveal the extent of welfare problems suffered by such horses.

The study was carried out between March and September 2008. Groups of horses were inspected in Romania before being transported to Italy. Other horses were inspected on arrival at slaughterhouses in Italy. A few horses were observed both before and after transportation.

Many of the horses observed in the study, either at the start of their journey, or on arrival at the slaughterhouse, showed evidence of poor health and welfare.

The researchers observed 1519 horses being loaded onto lorries in Romania.  They judged that fourteen percent of the animals were not fit to travel in accordance with EU Council Regulation 1/2005 on the Welfare of Animals during Transport. Both recent and long-term injuries were seen. Lameness was common.

1271 horses were observed on arrival in Italy. Of those, the observers considered that 37% were not fit to travel. Many horses showed clear signs of disease, including coughing and nasal discharge, which would have rendered them unsuitable to enter into the human food chain. One in 3 had recent injuries that were likely to have arisen on the journey. Grazing to the skin from friction with the partitions in the transporters was common.

To improve the welfare of horses transported long distances for slaughter, World Horse Welfare is campaigning for:

The introduction of a short, finite journey limit for horses being transported for slaughter;
A minimum space allowance that properly reflects the size of the horse, donkey or pony;
Improved design of partitions for individual stalls
Clarification of the definition of “unbroken equidae”
Detailed journey plans
Compulsory 24 hour rest periods, off the vehicle for all horses, other than registered animals, when they enter the EU;
Robust enforcement of the current legislation.

The letter’s authors urge the veterinary profession to support these aims to improve the welfare of horses being transported long distances for slaughter in Europe.

For more details see:
D Marlin, K Meldrum, J White, H Westen, T Parkin, D Broom, M Kennedy, B Johnson, S Coombs, C Heard.
Welfare of horses transported long distances in Europe.
Veterinary Record(2009) 165, 270.

Read more about the World Horse Welfare campaign against long distance transportation to slaughter


For more details of the World Horse Welfare recommendations

Written by Mark Andrews. Published online 09.09.09.
 © Copyright Equine Science Update  2009
Welfare of European horses transported for slaughter.
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