Slaughter units help solve problems

I found your article on the Hawaii mobile slaughter unit intriguing. The Bureau of Land Management has 47,000 horses that nobody wants in holding pens at an annual cost of about $50 million. That means these horses are costing us over $1,000 per horse per year. There are an additional 32,000 that should be removed because they are exceeding the BLM Appropriate Management Level. On top of that they are reproducing at 18 percent a year. The damage they are doing and the potential damage to the environment is staggering.

England has had a similar problem with their Dartmoor Hill ponies. They also had an aversion to eating horse meat. Now they are planning to market these animals to save them, a plan we would be wise to consider.

I can see these mobile slaughter units benefiting a number of people. The food banks are always short of meat. Some of the money wasted on feeding these feral animals could be used to provide the food bank with a mobile slaughter unit that could supply the poor with the protein most are lacking. Probably several of these units would be in order for the different states having surplus horses.

Health food advocates would be able to obtain meat from animals that have not received medications and not been subject to pesticide use, organic food at its purist. Chemical analysis has determined that horse meat is nutritionally superior to beef.

From experience I can affirm that horse meat is also tasty and tender. As for the general public having an aversion to eating them, it didn’t take us long to get over it during World War II. There were three reasons. Beef was rationed, horse meat was cheaper and people came to like it. Of course, we must remember these people were the Greatest Generation and they were prone to do things that made sense.

After the war, because of mechanization, horses became scarce and we developed the taste for fat beef. Now we have laws discouraging the eating of horse meat that makes no sense at all.

The Hawaii units typically provided employment to 5 workers to butcher 8 to 10 beef a day. A unit of this size would hardly make a dent in the surplus horse problem, but with a little ingenuity an enterprising individual could probably devise a mobile operation that would be more efficient and process more animals. Since most of these pens are some distance apart, opportunities would exist for several operation sites. In as much as most of these holding pens are away from population centers the “not in my backyard” problem could be avoided.

Carlisle Harrison

Hermiston, Ore.

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