Horse Transport to Three South American Horse Slaughterhouses: A Descriptive Study
Laboratory of Livestock Physiology, Department of Biosystems, KU Leuven, 3001 Heverlee, Belgium
Dier&Welzijn vzw, 3583 Paal, Belgium
Westvlees NV, 8840 Westrozebeke, Belgium
Bioengineering Technology TC, KU Leuven, 2440 Geel, Belgium
Thomas More, 2440 Geel, Belgium
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 4 March 2020 / Revised: 20 March 2020 / Accepted: 30 March 2020 / Published: 1 April 2020
In the western world, the number of slaughtered horses is decreasing, but still about 5 million horses are slaughtered worldwide each year. The conditions in which horses are transported to the slaughterhouses are a topic of discussion. This study intended to investigate the circumstances of commercial slaughter horse transport and to detect possible risk factors for horse welfare. Therefore, 23 commercial horse transports to three South American slaughterhouses were monitored. During transport, a camera was mounted in each loading space so that horse behaviour could be analysed after transport. Fighting behaviour could not be explained by stocking density, environmental parameters, trailer characteristics, duration and distance of the journey. The temperature and relative humidity were recorded every five minutes in all loading spaces. Average temperatures exceeded the thermoneutral zone in six transports, but it is not clear if and to what extent horse welfare was impaired. Overall, loading and transporting of the horses went well, but the infrastructure of the loading area did not always promote smooth loading and can therefore be improved. At later visits, we noted that this issue was addressed.