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Friday 1 December 2023 Dublin: 2°C
Horse Meat

Over 6,500 horses were slaughtered in Ireland for human consumption last year

Almost 500 were slaughtered in the first two months of this year.

MORE THAN 6,500 horses in Ireland were slaughtered for meat last year, according to figures released by the Department of Agriculture. 

The data released to Tipperary TD Mattie McGrath revealed that 6,573 horses were slaughtered for human consumption in 2018.

The figures also show that 453 horses were slaughtered in the first two months of this year. 

The horses included in these figures are slaughtered at government-approved abattoirs and are then exported to the continent for human consumption.

The Minister for Agriculture, Food and Marine Michael Creed gave the breakdown number of horses slaughtered for human consumption in 2018 and to date in 2019. 


The number of horses slaughtered has dropped dramatically since 2012 when it peaked at 24,362, according to figures released last year. 

2013 saw 10,711 horses slaughtered – a drop of 13,651 on the year previous. The number continued to drop for the next two years – with 7,602 in 2014 and 6,033 in 2015.

However, there was an increase of 1,569 horses slaughtered between 2015 and 2016 bringing the number to 7,618 for 2016.

And there was another increase of 130 in 2017 compared to 2016 – bringing the total number of horses slaughtered in 2017 to 7,748.


The massive drop of 13,651 horses between 2012 and 2013 is largely put down to stricter regulations put around the slaughter of horses for human consumption following the horse meat scandal.

The 2013 horsemeat scandal resulted in meat products being pulled from supermarket shelves across several countries in Europe when it was revealed that horsemeat was in products listed as beef.

After the controversy, the Department of Agriculture took over the responsibility of abattoirs previously run by local authorities and the number of plants were reduced.

Prior to 2013, it’s believed that some horses were slaughtered for export for human consumption without having clean passports but new checks were then put in place.

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