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Farmers: 18,000 'useless' horses must be slaughtered to help end crisis

The United Farmers Association has refuted Minister Coveney’s claim that there is not a major horse welfare problem in Ireland.

Image: Horse via Shutterstock

AN IRISH FARMERS’ group is refuting the Agriculture Minister’s claims that there is “no major welfare problem” in the horse sector – and calling for the slaughter of 18,000 ‘useless’ horses.

The United Farmers Association (UFA) has said today it is “demanding to know” why the Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney and the junior Minister Tom Hayes “continue to insist in the face of all public and common knowledge that there is no crisis in the Irish horse industry”.


According to the UFA, the small breeders’ section of the industry “is in total melt down”, with an estimated 25,000 horses “with no future, no monitory value, no market and whose owners cannot afford to keep them”.

Horses in worst case scenarios are been dumped out on waste ground cutaway bogs and waste ground, country wide, left to starve or freeze often in an emaciated miserable state. Animal welfare organisations and facilities are at breaking point.

The UFA described it as “nothing short of outrageous that the Department of Agriculture through its political heads continues to insist that there is no crisis”.

UFA national president Bernie Wall said that the stamping of all horse passports as ‘not fit for human consumption’ is exacerbating and magnifying the horse welfare crisis.

Following meetings with UFA members, the association has estimated that there are around 25,000 “useless” horses in Ireland, whose owners are struggling financially to care for them. Due to the ‘unfit for human consumption’ stamp on their horse passports, they cannot bring the horses to be slaughtered and exported to countries where there is a market for horse meat.

The UFA believes that up to 18,000 of these horses must be slaughtered in order to bring an end to the crisis. Wall said that he believes a great number of these horses would not have been injected with bute, and so would be fit for human consumption.

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To determine this, the association suggests that Agriculture Department vets could carry out blood tests “paid for as a once off gesture by the Department”.

“We need to find a solution,” said Wall. “I’m sure the owners are quite distressed to do this for their animals.” Wall said that the estimated 25,000 horses are not from the racing industry but instead owned by small breeders, sports people, hunters and others.

“This is the first time this section of the horse industry has sought and really needs some help,” said the UFA.

Wall is writing to both Coveney and Hayes to ask for a meeting on this issue.

Read: Over 3,000 horses seized over welfare concerns last year>

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