Knackeries & slaughterhouses

The slaughter of tens of thousands of horses a year is an ugly business. It is estimated that approximately 18 000 Australian ex-racehorses are sent to their slaughter each year. Not surprisingly, this is largely hidden from the Australian public.

Undercover video footage photo: Coalition for the Protection of Racehorses

If horses are sold to knackeries, they will be killed and processed for pet food. Slaughterhouses kill and process the horses for human consumption. While human consumption is not permitted in Australia, there is an export market for Italy, Japan and France.

Transporting horses to slaughter sometimes requires long travel, in cramped trailers with no food or water. Injuries are common. If horses are not killed immediately upon arrival, they’re unloaded in holding pens.

One by one, these ex-racehorses are coerced in the killing box. Often they are killed in full view of other horses. Using the same method as killing cows, horses often throw their heads about trying to avoid the captive bolt that would normally render them unconscious before their throat is cut. Sometimes a rifle is also used.

The kill is not always instant and the horse suffers a slow, lingering death.