Horse News

Study Exposes Real Reasons Behind Decline of US Horse Industry

Information obtained from the Equine Welfare Alliance

Horse Slaughter Promoter’s Propaganda Pales in the Light of Facts

Click Image to Increase Size

Chicago (EWA) – The Equine Welfare Alliance has released the first comprehensive analysis of economic forces that have caused major shrinkage of the horse industry in recent few years. The study analyzes the cost of alfalfa, grass hay, corn and gasoline as well as the impact of the extended recession, and explains why breed registries have seen an approximately 50% reduction in foal registrations since 2007.

While all sectors of the economy have been hammered by the economic conditions this new study shows that the horse industry has also suffered hyper-inflation of its costs. The combination has been devastating.

The report shows that most of these factors were in the early stage of explosive increases in early 2006, but that the full impact was not felt until the crash of the financial sector brought increased unemployment in 2008. The study also goes into government policies that lead to these pressures and thus to the collapse.

During the downward trending, state laws closed the domestic horse slaughter plants in 2007, sending all horse slaughter over the borders. With no cessation in horse slaughter during this period, the impact was negligible, at best, and the downward spiral would have continued had the plants remained open.

A GAO study released in June, 2011, assessed the declining prices of low end horses largely to the closing of the US horse slaughter plants. This conclusion was widely ridiculed because the study admitted that the increased export of horses to slaughter had meant there was no overall reduction in the number of US horses slaughtered.

“It is now obvious that the GAO completely missed the elephant in the living room,” explains Holland, “They didn’t even mention the increased cost of feed and fuel, and instead focused on the cost of longer trips for kill buyers hauling horses to Canada and Mexico.”

The new study is available for download free, and underlying data and calculations will be made available upon written request.

Full Report:

The Equine Welfare Alliance is a dues-free 501c4, umbrella organization with over 230 member organizations and hundreds of individual members worldwide in 18 countries. The organization focuses its efforts on the welfare of all equines and the preservation of wild equids.

11 replies »

  1. Could never understand why GAO or anyone else felt thtey had to do a study on this. Hell common sense analysis tells you what happened to the horse market along with the market for everything else. More useless, wasteful government spending.


    • Many people agree with you, Morgan.

      According to the involuntarily retired by his constituents Texas Congressman Charlie Stenholm, whenever Congress isn’t sure what to do, they order a study. The problem with this study is that some people on the Senate Agricultural Appropriations Committee wanted cover so they could justify voting to bring this underbelly industry back inside this country. According to a Horse Council web site Senator Baucus ordered the study to show the devastating effect that closing horse slaughter plants had had on the horse industry. The conclusion was determined before the study began which defeats the purpose of doing a study unless, of course, it doesn’t.

      The purpose of this study was not to find out the truth, but to create an illusion of scientific justification for the barbaric practice of horse slaughter.


  2. What I got from the GAO report was the interviewed horse people (I was not one of them) and asked what they THOUGHT the cause of the problem. Then they decided that whatever the most people believed, must indeed be fact.
    Just because people believe something to be true doesn’t make it so. At one time most people were quite sure the world was flat.


  3. They fail to mention changing demographics along with increased costs. Horse habits costs In this area are realistict 7000.00 per year. That is a expensive hobby.


  4. Great job done by John Holland, of EWA high-lighting the facts and costs…interesting and informative. Thanks for the report.


  5. On pg 6 is a graph, “Alfalfa Price Per Ton To The Farmer”.
    Price a little over $160 in 2009 and a little under $120 in 2011. (insert my, “WTF?” here)
    On page 9 it explains that those prices were for the farmers who grew the hay, but every increase in the price of gasoline added a surcharge that the horse owner must pay on a ton of hay.

    My records show what I paid in So. Nevada for hay:

    March 2008 Alfalfa per ton (20 bales) $160 ($8 per bale)

    March 2010 Alfalfa per ton (20 bales) $240 ($12 per bale)

    March 2012 Alfalfa per ton (20 bales) $408 ($20.40 per bale)

    Now I’m starting to wonder how much longer I’ll be in business!


  6. Good points re: market forces no one seems to consider. I keep hearing arguments that correlate the # of horses slaughtered to the # of ‘unwanted’ horses — which is completely WRONG! During the height of horse prices 10 years ago, the # slaughtered didn’t go down. But when the US plants closed, the # of horses stolen dropped dramatically. So why does this slaughter # stay so consistent? Because the # of horse dealers (a.k.a. kill buyers) dependent on slaughter to make a living hasn’t decreased — with the recession, the increased cost of feeding horses and the decreased sales prices more horse dealers might be seeing slaughter as their fall back option. We have to make slaughter less profitable while fighting to ban it entirely!


  7. I was paying about $10,000 a year for board, vet bills and showing, including training, about 5 years ago before my horse died. I can’t imagine what I would be paying now. Besides the cost of gas going back and forth to the barn. I feel that I am a good example of what happened to the horse industry. It cost too much!!! Since my horse died I have not been able to even think about getting back into horses. Its not the cost of the horse but the everyday up keep. Where I live and work I have to board my horse. The costs are up and I have to go further and further away from home to find a barn to board at. I do not see how the pro-slaughter folks can say it is anything else but the economy that is hurting the horse industry. People do not have the disposable income they did in the 90’s.

    And we mustn’t forget that before the slaughter houses closed, horses were being imported into the US so the KB’s could make their quotes. I don’t ever, except from EWA, see that mentioned much.

    I think EWA did an outstanding job of this report and this is something we need to throw in the horse eaters faces.The PROOF!


  8. Most of the ones who favor slaughter are too stupid to understand it’s the economy and over-breeding and won’t even listen to reason it seems IMO.


Care to make a comment?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.