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Greg Brokaw, Published February 08 2009

Get real about cull horses

On Jan. 28, The Forum delivered an editorial titled “Horse kill bill isn’t necessary.” But the Forum was wrong in its conclusions. A little research would have revealed that the Texas plant was closed by court action and a new state ban closed down the Illinois facility. Why did the editorial insinuate that the plant closures were due to a lack of profit?

As this debate rages, it has been a popular tactic to insinuate that breeders are raising horses for the express purpose of sending them to a slaughter plant. This is impossible. During the 1980s, more than 300,000 horses were processed annually, and by 2006 the number had declined to 105,000. Not enough proof? Let’s look at what it costs taxpayers to feed a horse:

Taxpayers are feeding 38,000 horses from Bureau of Land Management rangeland in feedlots at a cost of nearly $17.5 million per year, or $456 per year per horse. These numbers represent feed costs. They do not include salaries, maintenance expenses and other costs.

A search of prices paid for cull horses will reveal that the feed cost alone would make raising horses for slaughter a losing business proposition. You should also know that you, the taxpayer, have at least 33,000 more horses on BLM rangeland.

The BLM will allow many of these horses to be adopted by unsuspecting amateurs. The new owners of a majority of these horses realize their mistake and soon look to get rid of them. Some found their way to slaughter, but today many are starving, being dumped on federal, tribal and private rangeland.

In the end, real solutions need to be offered for real problems. It is not enough to discount an idea because it is offensive to some. These same people would probably be offended by a beef or chicken facility but are more than happy to enjoy a steak or a plate of crispy chicken. Moreover, most people would be offended by the manner in which many horses that should be culled actually meet their ultimate demise – malnourishment, inadequate care and an inhumane death from the barrel of a gun (if they’re lucky).

On a positive note, The Forum did get one thing right and are to be commended for stating that reality can be harsh. I tip my hat to them for comprehending the fact that we do not live in Disney World and the problem will not be solved with magic fairy dust.


Brokaw operates Greg Brokaw Training Stables of Ashley