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How much did closing the slaughter plants REALLY affect the horse market

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  • How much did closing the slaughter plants REALLY affect the horse market

    Correct me if I'm wrong, but there were only two horse processing plants open in the US that were closed around 3-4 years? ago., one in the DFW area and one in Dekalb, IL. Both of those plants were closed by the actions of the individual states, not any federal action.

    Now, I am assuming that both those plants only took in horses within a geographical area adjacent to the plants in which the shipping costs were economically feasible. So horses outside those areas, for example in the northern tier of states, still went outside the US for processing. Horse owners who lived outside of a shipping area were either sol when it came to shipping or the price for kill horses was lower to compensate for increased shipping prices.

    So, for example, when the DFW plant closed, the price of low end horses in my area most likely dropped since I live about 150 miles from the DFW area but too far to make shipping to Mexico feasible. The price of kill horses in the Midwest probable fell too when the Dekalb plant closed. But the price of kill horses in the areas along the Canadian or Mexican border should have remained about the same as should the price for low end horses in those areas too far to ship to either plant or outside the country.

    So did closing the plants have that much affect on the price of horses nationwide or is the generally poor economy to blame or is the problem no worse than it has been in the past but we just have better media coverage? I apologize if I have expressed this poorly but hope you understand my questions.
    I'm a second hand Vegan. Cows eat grass. I eat cows.

  • #2
    I live in NV so not really close to either Canada or Mexico. And the plant closures were some distance in either case. What did happen was the killer buyers were no longer bidding or bidding only very minimal prices (and this was before the economy tanked)....which meant that the bottom end horses were priced much lower. The KB either wasn't buying at all or was pricing so low in order to cover shipping costs and this put all the horses at the auction that were slightly above KB level animals available at a lower price....it brought down pricing through the entire auction. Heck, even junk cars have a bottom price....the price of the scrap metal. Now, the local meat buyer is not actually buying for meat...he's a pretty astute horseman and a great judge of horseflesh and he buys at very minimal prices to turn around (he's "flipping" horses now more than buying for killer plants). Now it is probably more the economy than anything else but prices are just not there.. many horses are being no saled because there are no bids, not because the bids fail to meet a reserve. Others are going for $25/head (or less...have seen weanlings/yearlings WITH registration papers and decent pedigrees...going for $10...would buy a bunch if I had time/room for them). And now there are second "layers" of sellers...ones that bought a year or two ago when prices seriously started downward and have discovered the costs of horse ownership in both money and time/attention and are now unloading.
    Colored Cowhorse Ranch
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    • #3
      We were some 6 hours from the Dallas plants.

      It affected our area's low level horse industry tremendously, because the traders that used to come by bringing horses to sell that fit our area and taking others away were the ones that also handled the slaughter horses.
      They are not coming by now, so the local sale went from once a month to every three months and many horses don't even get a bid.
      There is no value to many horses, at all, can't even give them away now, too costly even for a trader to haul anywhere else from here, not to resell or to slaughter.

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      • #4
        There are still 2 up here in Washington where the KB's come regularly. As I understand it they cruise up and down the west coast picking up horses.
        The problem with political jokes is that they get elected.
        H. Cate

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        • #5
          Since the same amount of US horses are being slaughtered as before the US facilities closed, I can't see that it would have had that much effect nationally. Locally, yes...some areas where it was very convenient and close to a slaughterhouse to dispose of a horse, I'm sure that has affected those folks somewhat. To most of us, no, I don't think so. It might have brought the bottom end prices down a bit at sales but it did not affect much but the lower markets.

          I think a much bigger effect has been the tanking economy. People lost their savings, their retirement plans, their jobs and many many folks got out of horses and new ones are not coming in. Supply of horses has exceeded demand...it's that simple. Even upper end sport horse breeders are feeling it now...and not too many of those were hurt by the closing of a couple of slaughterhouses.

          I know a few Arab breeder who depended on dividends to fund their "hobby" who suddenly found their income gone. They gave away horses and got out. Lots of stories like that out there.

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          • #6
            It hasn't affected our market (close to Mex) at all.

            The price of gas and the economy with fewer buyers for any horses (not just meat horses), and an increase in the number of people selling horses due to the economy probably affected the prices of horses more than closing 3 SH did. Having a supply exceed demand, drops prices 100% of the time.

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            • #7
              I think the economy issue is a huge one as well.
              Interesting how some view it as being able to "fund" things.
              Interesting what their breeding practices might be.

              Originally posted by Daydream Believer View Post
              Since the same amount of US horses are being slaughtered as before the US facilities closed, I can't see that it would have had that much effect nationally. Locally, yes...some areas where it was very convenient and close to a slaughterhouse to dispose of a horse, I'm sure that has affected those folks somewhat. To most of us, no, I don't think so. It might have brought the bottom end prices down a bit at sales but it did not affect much but the lower markets.

              I think a much bigger effect has been the tanking economy. People lost their savings, their retirement plans, their jobs and many many folks got out of horses and new ones are not coming in. Supply of horses has exceeded demand...it's that simple. Even upper end sport horse breeders are feeling it now...and not too many of those were hurt by the closing of a couple of slaughterhouses.

              I know a few Arab breeder who depended on dividends to fund their "hobby" who suddenly found their income gone. They gave away horses and got out. Lots of stories like that out there.
              The problem with political jokes is that they get elected.
              H. Cate

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              • #8
                I think they meant that the breeders depended on their stock dividends to fund their breeding facility.

                I think the markets in our area are a result of economy problems -- it would have been a long ship to a slaughterhouse anyway, still is today, so no difference due to that, really.
                Life doesn't have perfect footing.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Daydream Believer View Post
                  Since the same amount of US horses are being slaughtered as before the US facilities closed, I can't see that it would have had that much effect nationally. Locally, yes...some areas where it was very convenient and close to a slaughterhouse to dispose of a horse, I'm sure that has affected those folks somewhat. To most of us, no, I don't think so. It might have brought the bottom end prices down a bit at sales but it did not affect much but the lower markets.

                  I think a much bigger effect has been the tanking economy. People lost their savings, their retirement plans, their jobs and many many folks got out of horses and new ones are not coming in. Supply of horses has exceeded demand...it's that simple. Even upper end sport horse breeders are feeling it now...and not too many of those were hurt by the closing of a couple of slaughterhouses.

                  I know a few Arab breeder who depended on dividends to fund their "hobby" who suddenly found their income gone. They gave away horses and got out. Lots of stories like that out there.
                  Yeah this. It's the economy that rules (and ruins) the horse market. Not slaughter.
                  Every mighty oak was once a nut that stood its ground.

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                  • #10
                    The horse prices plummeted in my area. Also, you'll have to look for longer term problems following any economic recovery we might have. The GDP has a HUGE portion that is made up by the horse industry. It's been an incredibly large and strong portion of the GDP in this country. With the lack of a market for horses, the decline in breeding and glut of available unwanted horses (at this point in time) will only add to the slow down.

                    We no longer produce. We are a country based on service. Taking down one of the major drivers for the GDP does no one any favors.

                    Am I for slaughter? Am I for controls? I'm not sure what I'm for. I'm for the horses, and I'm for this country staying strong. It's really frustrating that people never think things through from all angles and only come at something like a bunch of lemmings show have been fed a bill of goods by pulling on their heart strings.

                    I think that there might have been a way to stop the slaughter AND keep the industry strong and healthy. But that's not what HSUS pushed. And not what all of us horse people who love horses were fed. We were fed something to raise funds for the HSUS and their other pet political projects. (If they cared, they would have offered an alternative for struggling horse owners and they would provide most of their donations to shelters.) We should have thought it through and found solutions that were acceptable to all--including our beloved horses.

                    JMO
                    "And I'm thinking you weren't burdened with an overabundance of schooling." - Capt Reynolds "Firefly"

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                    • #11
                      Didn't the horse economy fail back in the late 80's/early 90's?
                      As I recall it did - slaughter was still an option then - might have to look up the numbers for that period of time to see whether it really made a difference or not.

                      Originally posted by Velvet View Post
                      The horse prices plummeted in my area. Also, you'll have to look for longer term problems following any economic recovery we might have. The GDP has a HUGE portion that is made up by the horse industry. It's been an incredibly large and strong portion of the GDP in this country. With the lack of a market for horses, the decline in breeding and glut of available unwanted horses (at this point in time) will only add to the slow down.

                      We no longer produce. We are a country based on service. Taking down one of the major drivers for the GDP does no one any favors.

                      Am I for slaughter? Am I for controls? I'm not sure what I'm for. I'm for the horses, and I'm for this country staying strong. It's really frustrating that people never think things through from all angles and only come at something like a bunch of lemmings show have been fed a bill of goods by pulling on their heart strings.

                      I think that there might have been a way to stop the slaughter AND keep the industry strong and healthy. But that's not what HSUS pushed. And not what all of us horse people who love horses were fed. We were fed something to raise funds for the HSUS and their other pet political projects. (If they cared, they would have offered an alternative for struggling horse owners and they would provide most of their donations to shelters.) We should have thought it through and found solutions that were acceptable to all--including our beloved horses.

                      JMO
                      The problem with political jokes is that they get elected.
                      H. Cate

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                      • #12
                        East TN has a horse trader with a standing contract for 100 horses per month to Mexico. Old, sick horses - young ones with strangles - all going from TN to Mexico in terrible conditions thanks to the bleeding hearts with no brains. Sickening.

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by equescool View Post
                          East TN has a horse trader with a standing contract for 100 horses per month to Mexico. Old, sick horses - young ones with strangles - all going from TN to Mexico in terrible conditions thanks to the bleeding hearts with no brains. Sickening.
                          KB's are not buying old, sick horses for slaughter. If there are sick horses at your auction, you need to be going after the auction to prosecute the owners who are trying to sell them there.

                          Look at the Camelot site to see what horses actually end up going to slaughter. It's not the skinny old ones. Especially in this economy where fat young horses are being given away.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by JGHIRETIRE View Post
                            Didn't the horse economy fail back in the late 80's/early 90's?
                            As I recall it did - slaughter was still an option then - might have to look up the numbers for that period of time to see whether it really made a difference or not.
                            Mid 80s had an Arabian horse decline and that effectively reset their market (kind of like the recent housing market reset). As for horse prices, nah. Nothing else really happened. As for normal economy, it was a much smaller recession and not as big a deal as this last one.
                            "And I'm thinking you weren't burdened with an overabundance of schooling." - Capt Reynolds "Firefly"

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                            • #15
                              Closing the slaughter houses took away the base price of horses, everywhere. 10 years ago a horse in good flesh taken to the local sale barn to be sold had a price per pound value at 70-80 cents a pound. That meant that a 1000 pound horse was worth $700-$800. That also meant that the price of riding horses started at $700-$800 since the horse had a value in the kill market of at least that much.

                              In livestock terms, removing the slaughter houses devalued the price and stability of the oridinary riding horse market.

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                              • #16
                                Originally posted by SLW View Post
                                Closing the slaughter houses took away the base price of horses, everywhere. 10 years ago a horse in good flesh taken to the local sale barn to be sold had a price per pound value at 70-80 cents a pound. That meant that a 1000 pound horse was worth $700-$800. That also meant that the price of riding horses started at $700-$800 since the horse had a value in the kill market of at least that much.
                                I think it really depends on where you are in the country, and I think it's more complicated than just blaming price drops on slaughter.

                                In areas of the country that are easily accessible to Canada and Mexico (along major highway routes and what have you), it seems the slaughter market is still booming and going strong. It doesn't look to me like there's any decrease in the numbers going to slaughter, they're just making it easier on themselves by buying in places that are easy to transport to/from.

                                I also think the base price of a horse destined for slaughter has fallen because of the economy, not just availability - fewer people are buying horses, more people are selling them. At an auction, there is far less competition for a horse so a KB can get them for less than he could a decade ago.
                                "smile a lot can let us ride happy,it is good thing"

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                                • #17
                                  Originally posted by caffeinated View Post
                                  I think it really depends on where you are in the country, and I think it's more complicated than just blaming price drops on slaughter.

                                  In areas of the country that are easily accessible to Canada and Mexico (along major highway routes and what have you), it seems the slaughter market is still booming and going strong. It doesn't look to me like there's any decrease in the numbers going to slaughter, they're just making it easier on themselves by buying in places that are easy to transport to/from.

                                  I also think the base price of a horse destined for slaughter has fallen because of the economy, not just availability - fewer people are buying horses, more people are selling them. At an auction, there is far less competition for a horse so a KB can get them for less than he could a decade ago.
                                  And yet, they are not everywhere snapping up the 50$ bargains...
                                  Originally posted by BigMama1
                                  Facts don't have versions. If they do, they are opinions
                                  GNU Terry Prachett

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                                  • #18
                                    Originally posted by equescool View Post
                                    East TN has a horse trader with a standing contract for 100 horses per month to Mexico. Old, sick horses - young ones with strangles - all going from TN to Mexico in terrible conditions thanks to the bleeding hearts with no brains. Sickening.
                                    Hm. So the people who sell old/sick/any horses to far distant slaughter are fine, and the kill buyer who trucks them that far is similarly innocent? None of those people are responsible for their choices?

                                    The truth of the matter is that there's a point where driving a skinny horse that far just isn't worth it financially. Your kill buyer is feeding you a line if he's telling you he's going 2000km / 20+ hours with even one horse that's not fat.

                                    The economic downturn is the reason why horse prices tanked, not lack of slaughter facilities.
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                                    • #19
                                      The auction house that was closest to my parents went under and the one near where I live now ends up with no-sales in the back paddock that no one wants. You can buy one for $20 if you have the cash and a way to remove them. No, the KBs aren't snapping them up--these are the ones they don't want. I have no idea what ultimately happens to them, unless the sale hourse has a renderer who takes them, or they finally get enough that can be shipped that they convince a broker he can make some money off them in Canada or by hauling them to a place like New Holland.

                                      And of COURSE it's the economy. EVERYTHING IN THE WORLD is about the economy. If people are getting lower dividends but still have to pay the same taxes, they have less money. If they sell stocks at a loss or for a low value but with capital gains, they have less money. If taxes on income go up, they have less money. If taxes go down, they have more money. If people simply PERCEIVE they will have more or less money whether that is the reality or not they will act accordingly. Economy is not a dirty word, it's what makes reality run.
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                                      • #20
                                        Originally posted by Xanthoria View Post
                                        Hm. So the people who sell old/sick/any horses to far distant slaughter are fine, and the kill buyer who trucks them that far is similarly innocent? None of those people are responsible for their choices?

                                        The truth of the matter is that there's a point where driving a skinny horse that far just isn't worth it financially. Your kill buyer is feeding you a line if he's telling you he's going 2000km / 20+ hours with even one horse that's not fat.

                                        The economic downturn is the reason why horse prices tanked, not lack of slaughter facilities.
                                        and you say this with authority why?
                                        Originally posted by BigMama1
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