Blood Lines: Alberta’s horse breeders are learning the hard way what happens when supply outstrips demand

How and why Alberta’s horses are ending up in the slaughterhouse

Feb 1, 2012

by Jennifer Hanley

Foodies weigh in on the market for horse meat in Canada and the potential backlash restaurants can face

Photo gallery and video of the block horses featured in this story

A brown Appaloosa mare enters the auction ring ridden by a 14-year-old trick rider named Becca. It’s a bad sign, says Jack Daines, co-owner of the Innisfail Auction Market. If the horse were well-broken, the teenager would have mounted it in front of the crowd of about 200. Becca circles the ring, the horse kicking up sawdust.

Photo by Colin Way

The auctioneer – a man in a purple-collared shirt and a cowboy hat – starts the bidding in an unceasing, singsong voice. It’s a seasoned crowd of lifelong horsemen and horsewomen, a few with children who roam free in the auction house. The price for the Appaloosa drops quickly to $300.

“That’s too low,” Daines says, as Becca kicks off the saddle and rides the horse bareback.

The price jumps, a little. Still: “That’s meat-horse territory.” Only a few minutes in the ring and the horse has sold: $460. “Imagine how you’d feel if that were yours,” Daines says, wincing. Indeed, neither Becca nor her mother Sherri Ferris is pleased. “It sucks,” Ferris says. “Four hundred-and-sixty? Really? It sucks.”

Please read the full article here:


  1. Leah Ayers · ·

    Doesn’t Canada have about 300 PMU Horse Farms??? :(((

    1. Steph K · ·

      PMU barns were all closed down a few years ago.

  2. shoshone · ·

    Les Viandes de la Petite-nation Inc.
    “Disclosure of grant and contribution awards over $25,000 – 2010-2011, Fourth Quarter”.
    “Value: $2,055,000.00.”

    1. shoshone · ·

      Canadian Economic Action Plan
      Les Viandes de la Petite-nation Inc.
      “Strengthening the competitiveness of Canadian Meat Packing Industry”
      “Budget 2009 and Budget 2010”
      “Description. ” this project involves upgrading the water treatment system, modifying the facilities, expanding the freezer capacity and installing a new ventilation system”.
      Federal Funding; $2,000,000.00

      No mention of up grading animal welfare. It would be interesting to find out how many miillions of dollars they have been given over the past and how much they have paid in taxes.

      1. MP Clark · ·

        Shoshone, you want to check out Cynthia D’Errico on Facebook. She is crunching numbers and is on point every time. I am communicating with her and she is good. In terms of costs to Canadians, you are bearing the costs of business and getting little rewards. We had that in Kaufman TX and ended up getting reamed. You may want to get on Facebook and contact Cynthia. She has plenty of work on horses topics and may be of help. You may already be in contact with her but I think she is a good source of genuine numbers for shifting costs to host countries for this repulsive activity.

        From Facebook: ”

        Cynthia D’Errico, author of Ground Manners. A Novel, has been quoted by Laura Allen of the Animal Law Coalition; was a judge of the International Writing Competition for Young Horse Lovers sponsored by VFTH; was a photography judge for the 2012 CHHAPS calendar; and her first novel has been quoted on the Tuesday’s Horse website, in their five-part series on horse slaughter written by Jane Allin.
        Cynthia has donated copies of GM as prizes for the Royal Bank Breast Cancer Fundraiser, the Royal Lepage Women’s Shelter Fundraiser, the CHHAPS Horse Show, the VFTH International Writing Competition for Young Horse Lovers, and as a silent auction item for Wild Horses in the Winds of Change PBS documentary.
        Your Local Journal published Cynthia’s two-part article “A Deadly Mouthful” in May 2011.
        Cynthia advocates for all animals and writes to various government agencies in many countries on behalf of improvements in animal care and welfare. Cynthia is a prolific blogger and writer of the Primers on Horse Slaughter, a three-part series which was featured in the Stablewoman’s Gazette in Dec 2011. She is a very proud member of CHHAPS (the Canadian Horse Heritage and Preservation Society) and FPRPQ (la Federation de Producteurs des Races Patrimoniales du Quebec).
        Cynthia will be hosting a Conference in 2012 featuring MP Jamie Nicholls. Details will appear on her website, blog, and FB.
        “Civilized debate is the hallmark of evolved societies”. Visit my blog to discover me and my passions. Nous parlons francais. Meet you there!

        Contact Information:

  3. shoshone · ·

    The bottom didn’t fall out of the horse market this past year or so. The market has been on the downward trend for the last 8 to 10 years but none of the breeders paid any attention. I went to a local auction 5 years ago where well trained horses were going for slaughter prices for slaughter. Breeders advertising their stallions for stud purposes for $500.00 or less aren’t exactly breeding for quality but they are still interested in bringing more foals into this world.

  4. MP Clark · ·

    Whatr is Canada losing in costs to these kill plant operators per year? Kaufman TX got 5.00 in federal taxes paid while the foreign corporation got about 12 million dollars, according to Mayor Paula Bacon (Vickery Eckhoff, slaughter series, Forbes Magazine). The killers caused damage to the town, the quality of life in Kaufman TX was horrible and in the end, the town lost a ton of money along with U S taxpayers. Enforcement costs taxpayers, too. Do you have an idea of the general range of costs for Canada to endure these kill plant operators? That is a useful argument for getting rid of these corporate bullies who kill horses and sell drug laden meat to clueless “gourmets”. Until the U S Congress listens to the voters and passes the bills to end transport/slaughter forever, Canadians might be interested in what they lose every year to horse killing. That may help motivate more Canadians to help force these corporate entities out of Canada and bring you some relief.

    Live horses generate income all their lives. Killing them is a loss of income and employment.


    To all us followers of the” Defend Horses Canada Coalition We are spinning our wheels, we are not reaching the HUGE AUDIENCE out there, how many of us have heard from others MY GOD I WAS NOT AWARE OF THAT. i wrote an article for our paper on this subject and when paying at the counter i had at least 6 people who came over to talk with me, their comment “I HAD NO IDEA THIS WAS HAPPENING’ We have to come together and financially support the cost of a MEDIUM, perhaps a commercial. I am positive that with our dedication and support,and the leaders of our movement this can be accomplished. IF THAT HUGE AUDIENCE WAS ABLE TO BE REACHED,THEY WOULD RAISE HELL. Our Americans neighbours RAISED HELL AND THEY WERE ABLE TO SHUT DOWN THE SLAUGHTER PLANTS.
    ” WE CAN TO”

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