Horse Council Weighs in on Proposed Slaughter Transport Change

The American Horse Council (AHC) today released a statement expressing the group's support of the USDA proposal to amend the regulations governing the commercial transportation of equines for slaughter. The proposed changes would extend the regulatory protections provided by the Commercial Transport of Equines to Slaughter Act to horses bound for slaughter, but delivered first to an assembly point, feedlot, or stockyard.

USDA regulations currently in effect prohibit the use of double-decker trailers during the final leg of a slaughter-bound horse's journey.

Shippers are also required to certify the fitness of these horses to travel and provide them with water, food, and rest for six hours prior to being loaded for transport. Horses cannot be shipped for more than 28 hours without being off-loaded for six hours and given the chance to rest, eat, and drink. While in transport, horses must be checked at least every six hours to ensure that no horse has fallen or is in distress. Trucks used to transport horses to processing facilities must allow for the segregation of stallions and aggressive horses from others.

"The current rules apply only to the transport of horses directly to the slaughter plant, not to any initial shipment to an assembly point, feedlot or stockyard during the shipping process," said AHC President Jay Hickey in the group's statement. "USDA felt that this was a gap in the protections of the Act and the AHC agrees."

The proposed change would broaden the protections to include all horses "being transferred to a slaughter facility, including an assembly point, feedlot, or stockyard." In effect, the proposed changes would move-up the point at which the regulations apply in the process of moving horses from sales, farms, and other points to a slaughter facility.

The rules do not--and would not under the proposed changes--apply to the transport of horses for other purposes, such as breeding, racing, show, or recreation, the AHC noted.

For more on the proposed rule see USDA Proposing Change to Horse Slaughter Transport Regulations. The period for public comments on the proposed rule ended Jan. 7.

The Livestock Marketing Association issued a statement Jan. 7 indicating that the organization does not support the proposed change. For more information see  

See the American Horse Council Web site for the full text of that group's statement.

About the Author

Erin Ryder

Erin Ryder is a former news editor of The Horse: Your Guide To Equine Health Care.

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