FVSU equestrian expert discusses horse slaughter effects

At the Stallworth research building on campus, Sara Dzimianski, interim equine program assistant at Fort Valley State University, made a presentation May 7 about the lack of horse processing facilities.

May 30, 2012 – Taking horses to the slaughterhouse may sound barbaric, especially in the United States, but that might not be such a bad idea, especially for horses that no longer serve a useful purpose, says an equestrian assistant at Fort Valley State University. The main concerns for those in the equestrian industry are how to transport and process the animals in a safe, humane manner.

Sara Dzimianski, interim equine program assistant at FVSU, made a presentation May 7 entitled “Effects of the Cessation of Horse Slaughter on Horse Welfare in the United States.” The presentation was part of FVSU’s College of Agriculture, Family Sciences and Technology monthly research seminar program.

Approximately 20 faculty, staff and students attended the seminar held in FVSU’sHouston Stallworth Agricultural Research Building. Dzimianski wanted to raise awareness among the scientific community at Fort Valley State of arguments, both pro and con, for slaughter, and the effects of a horse slaughter ban.

“The positive effects of having regulated slaughter is to have a place for horses to go at the end of their useful lives, or if they are unmanageable or otherwise not useful rather than starve or be neglected,” Dzimianski said. She said that public opinion, which considers horses to be companion animals like dogs and cats, is the main impasse preventing horse slaughter facilities from being constructed in the U.S. “This causes people to have a visceral reaction when talking about horse slaughter,” she said.

There is also a negative effect for not having horse processing plants. “It presents a problem to people in the horse industry, because there is practically no market for low-end horses,” Dzimianski said. “You can go to [an] auction and buy a goat for more than you can buy a horse for.” She says that low-end horses are animals that do not have a fancy pedigree or is a horse that is at the end of its useful life because it is lame, has behavioral issues, has never been trained or has no breeding value.

Dzimianski also said that facilities used to save old horses are running near or over capacity, but a horse slaughter plant, if run in a humane fashion (such as those that deal with beef, chicken or pork) could help ease burdens these operations face associated with maintaining a facility.

In Europe and Asia, horse meat is considered a delicacy. The older a horse is the more tender the meat, which is different from cattle, which has tougher meat as the animal gets older. Horse meat is not sold in the U.S., mainly due to public opinion. When asked if horse meat is harmful to the human body Dzimianski said, “No, not any more than any other red meat.”

Her presentation is part of FVSU’s College of Agriculture, Family Sciences and Technology monthly research seminar program started in 2008 by Dr. Mahipal Singh, an assistant professor for FVSU’s College of Agriculture, Family Sciences and Technology. He developed this forum to provide FVSU students and faculty an opportunity to share their work.

For more information, contact Sara Dzimianski, at (478) 825-6935 ordzimianskis@fvsu.edu.