Horses Stunned Before Each Others’ Eyes in UK Slaughterhouse

It is terrible enough that horse meat has been found in burgers in the UK. Two slaughterhouse workers were recently fired from the Red Lion Abattoir near Nantwich, Cheshire, after animal welfare advocates from Hillside Animal Sanctuary released an undercover video showing extreme cruelty to horses.

The video footage is sickening, showing horses being illegally stunned in groups of up to three. Under the U.K.’s Welfare of Animals (Slaughter or Killing) Regulations 1995, horses can only be in the stunning pen individually, as the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals says in the Daily Mail. As Roly Owers, CEO of World Horse Welfare, says:

Horses are intelligent animals. When they see an animal stunned in front of them you can only imagine the distress that animal is going through. There are, without doubt, welfare issues here and it is plain illegal.

With that in mind, it’s even harder to think about the suffering of the horses at the Red Lion Abattoir. The video also shows them being beaten with metal rods. One horse who was stunned seems to come to consciousness while hanging upside down and just before having its throat cut.

In a statement, the Red Lion Abattoir claims that “three full time Food Standards Officers comprising of an official veterinarian and full-time meat hygiene inspectors throughout production” are “in attendance” and that the incidents were’”not the norm, but of an isolated nature.” To justify breaking the rule of only having one animal at a time in the stunning area, the abattoir says that it is “difficult” to separate horses and ponies who had “spent years together as companions.”

The RSPCA says it has asked to see Hillside’s unedited footage “with a view to investigating.” This is certainly necessary but the larger issue remains that, despite the existence of laws regulating the slaughtering of animals in abattoirs, such abuse has still occurred.

It is impossible to read these stories of horse meat in hamburgers and of horses cruelly killed and not feel outraged. But, as Jay Rayner writes in the Guardian, if you’re someone whose economic circumstances dictate that you must buy food that is cheaper –one such economically priced “value range” burger from the British company Tesco was found to contain 29 percent horse meat — then you are likely to read these stories with a “deadened sense of despair” as such “non-quality” has become the norm on your dinner table because that was all you could afford.

The discovery of horse meat in hamburgers and the abuses at the Red Lion Abattoir make it all too clear that the system of safeguards, rules and regulations is flawed. Outside and independent monitoring of abattoirs and facilities processing of our food are just plain good horse sense.


Related Care2 Coverage

Horse Meat Found in Burgers

Plans for Missouri Horse Slaughter Facility Fail

U.S. Government Sends Wild Horses to “Kill Buyer” for Slaughter



Jane Williams
Jane W4 years ago

Many civilizations have been developed on the backs of horses and this is how we repay them?

.4 years ago

i agree with carla v,thank you for sharing

Elizabeth Sowers
Liz Sowers4 years ago

In our U.S., many of our own wild horses are round up in pens and sent to slaughter (although it's been hidden). We had an article in Colo. last fall (Oct 5?) on the Denver Post following the actions of a neighbor of our Former Dept of Interior who just retired. This neighbor, Tom Davis, wanted to open a horse slaughterhouse in Colo, spoke of how "good a yearling colt tastes", and has been buying numerous (in the hundreds) of wild horses for $10 a piece, but supposedly not for slaughter. However, some of these were located (by a branding) at Texas/Mexico border on route to a slaughterhouse. The Dept of Interior should've been reducing the herd via the shots for birth control, but didn't. Instead, huge amounts were spent per horse to round up, transport, pen, then sell primarily to someone with this kind of cruel history....He was not allowed to open up a slaughterhouse here, at least not yet.

Fi T.
Past Member 4 years ago

They're beautiful creatures like us

Kathy P.
kathy P4 years ago

How horrible is this. I cannot believe this is happening to our beautiful horses. WHY is this allowed to happen. Eating horses is so very wrong! This must be put a STOP too and NOW.

Mara Comitas
Past Member 4 years ago

So sad. I stand firm on the belief that people have the right to choose what they eat. My only hope is that the animal be slaughtered quickly and painlessly. There is no need to panic other animals awaiting this fate. So sad.

Duane B.
.4 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

Sue Holtz
Sue H4 years ago

This makes me heart sick. I can 't stop crying, how can people be SO heartless! ?? Is there not enough love and money to stop this?? ?my cat knows that I am sad... The horses are smart and intuitive and can feel the terror just as industrial farm animals can!

Carla van der Meer
Carla v5 years ago

Horses helped build society, they are our best friends, and we (well, most of us love and admire their beauty)and THIS is is the way we choose to reward them? This is disgusting, vile and cruel.

Diane L.
Diane L5 years ago

Elayne, one example of what I referred to..............I have a friend who lives in Eastern Washington in an area now frequented by cougars which have become more "brazen" than ever during recent decades. Maybe it's hunger, not sure, but she has lost her beloved stallion to a cougar recently, and the cougar didn't kill the horse outright. He attacked him in his paddock at night, injuring him so severely that the vet couldn't control the infection that set in (multiple bites and scratches on the legs, back and puncture wounds on the neck). After days of suffering, he was put down. In the wild, POSSIBLY, the stallion could have escaped, but that's only a possibility. Maybe in the wild, he would have been killed if the cougar had more time and he'd have been half eaten before anyone found him.