Veterinary Record 173:194 doi:10.1136/vr.101636
  • Research
  • Short communication

Procurement of equids for the horsemeat trade in Great Britain

  1. N. G. Gregory, PhD, BSc2
  1. 1SiMaBô Associazione, Mindelo, Sao Vicente, Cape Verde
  2. 2Department of Production and Population Health, Royal Veterinary College, Hawkshead Lane, Hatfield AL9 7TA, UK
  1. E-mail for correspondence: tgibson{at}

In 2005, the US Government withdrew its financial support for horsemeat inspection. This combined with court action and state bans in 2007 caused the cessation of the equine slaughter industry in the USA (Cowan 2010, 2012). Following from that, many horses in the USA were instead exported live to abattoirs in Canada and Mexico. In Europe, most countries consume some horsemeat, and the supply is sourced locally or transported to consumption centres as meat or live animals. One of the incentives for transporting meat in place of the live animals has been reducing the risk of spreading infectious equine anaemia within Europe.

Many different types of equid can be procured for slaughter, but little has been documented on the quality features of the different breeds and species that supply this trade. Breed differences have been noted within and between Spanish and Italian horse breeds (Juárez and others 2009, Lanza and others 2009), and based on conformation, differences in head size, skin thickness and fore plus hind leg length, it seems likely that there can be sizeable differences in dressing-out per cent. Potential sources of equids for the meat trade in Great Britain (GB) include recreational ponies and horses, racehorses and pet donkeys. The present study …

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