Over 40,000 Horses EVERY year are killed in Australia for “Horse Meat”. Apart from in WA, the sale and consumption of horse flesh is prohibited in Australia, but the slaughter and export of the meat is legal. There are two export-accredited abattoirs licensed to deal in horse meat by Austrade. Both abattoirs are owned by the same company based in Belgium. One is at Caboolture (Meramist Pty Ltd) in Queensland, and the other is on Marsham’s doorstep at Peterborough (Metro Velda Pty Ltd) in South Australia’s wheat country, just off the Barrier Highway. It’s been operating for more than 35 years. The slaughter is perfectly legal but not openly discussed. Austrade lists one of the companies involved as an exporter of “game meats”. The government takes a cut with a $5 per head “National Residue Levy”.
Horses are not farmed specifically for meat here: horse meat generally comes from the feral horse population or failed or retired sports horses. There are about 1.2 million horses in Australia with about one third classified as brumbies or feral horses. Each year between 30,000 and 40,000 horses are processed for human and pet consumption, with most coming from the thoroughbred and standardbred (harness) racing ranks. Around 20% of these horses – 8000 – come from feral stock, ie. brumbies.
Eva Berriman, a veterinarian, qualified technical teacher and technical writer from Queensland writes in her article Horse Slaughter and Horse Meat: The Facts “As with cattle and other types of livestock, the best meat comes from younger animals in good condition with quality muscling. So it is not the old, broken-down horses tired of living that are killed at these two horsemeat abattoirs – they go instead to one of the 30-odd knackeries throughout Australia, there to be processed for pet food, fertiliser, hides etc. No, it is much younger horses mostly still in their prime which are slaughtered for human consumption.