Texas A&M's Stance on Slaughter
Posted on Thursday, June 19 @ 19:14:30 PDT by admin

News RunsWithHorses writes "

In an email in response to questions about a USDA grant involving equine test subjects.  Dr. Theodore Friend of Texas A&M Animal Science Departments writes:

"No rational person can promote the idea that banning the slaughter of horses in the U.S. will improve the welfare of horses.  The slaughter plants will merely move to Mexico and the trade will continue under NAFTA.  The horses will have to spend an additional 12 hours or more in the trucks and once across the border, there will be no oversight.  The slaughter plants have told me that they may move to Mexico anyway to escape harassment and regulation (and high labor costs), and that will be tragic for horses.  If the plants are run out of the U.S., I am sure that leaders of U.S. animal rights groups will tell their membership it is a great victory.  However, keeping the plants in the U.S. where they can be regulated and easily watched is far better for horses. I went to check out the Beltex plant myself last month after hearing the animal rights line.  There were three different inspectors (not employed by Beltex) in the back checking the horses, not including the meat inspectors up front.  The plant personnel did an excellent job with the horses and the 40 to 50 horses that I watched were stunned correctly and no electric prods were used.  The condition and treatment of horses going to slaughter for human consumption in Europe is far worse than in the U.S.  Every horse that is slaughtered in the U.S. for shipment to Europe means fewer horses are slaughtered in Europe under terrible conditions."*   (sic)

*This is a complete copy. The lack of paragraph breaks are from Dr. Friend, not the publisher of this story

Here is a copy of the grant information:

START: 07 JAN 1998 TERM: 23 NOV 2003 FY: 2002
INVESTIGATOR: Friend, T. H.; Knabe, D. A.; Wagner, G. G.; Householder, D.;
Martin, M.; Matthews, N.



OBJECTIVES: A series of experiments will be conducted that will determine behavioral, physiological and production responses of livestock to certain acute and chronic stressors and provide information useful to improving the well-being of livestock.

APPROACH: One experiment will use a model in which basic behavioral, physiological, dehydration and health responses of horses during commercial transport to slaughter plants will be determined. Twenty tame horses will be transported for up to 36 h in a large commercial trailer.
These horses will return every 4 h for an hour during which data will be collected and one-half of the transported horses will receive water in buckets. There will also be a group of 10 non-transported horses to serve as quasi controls, one-half of which will receive water every 4 h. In another set of experiments, the behavior of horses and their ability to dissipate heat and maintain their balance will be determined at varying pen densities during transportation in large trailers. Additional studies are planned that will determine whether equipping trailers transporting actual slaughter horses with an on-board watering system will improve the well-being of horses.

NON-TECHNICAL SUMMARY: The wide range of management practices and housing systems to which livestock are exposed may elicit stress responses that contain both physical and psychological components. The psychological component is much more potent in eliciting pathology that is associated with stress. This project will develop methodology that can be used to differentiate between certain psychological and physical stressors.
Alternative management practices will also be investigated with the goal of improving welfare, health and productivity.

PROGRESS: 2002/01 TO 2002/12
A series of experiments are being conducted that will determine behavioral, physiological and production responses of livestock and other species used by humans to certain acute and chronic stressors, and provide information useful to improving the well-being of livestock and other species. The field trials have been completed for a project determining the exercise requirements of circus tigers, results should be available next year. A related project that is nearing completion is determining the activity patterns of tigers in enriched zoo environments. Another series of projects that were recently completed involve determining the effect imprint training of foals has on the foals' later responses to training and stress. A project determining the effects of season on coping strategies of dairy cattle was also recently completed and results will be available shortly. A project determining the efficacy of clicker training in horses was also recently completed and the results are being published.
Another sutdy was recently completed that compared the variation in behavior and physiology of idential clone and naturally bred pigs, the results of which will be published by the summer of 2003. Because of the success of an earlier series of studies on the transportation of slaughter horses, a new project was recently initated to investigate methods of reducing stress on horses transported long distances to salughter. Trials for this project are expected to last through the summer of 2004.

IMPACT: 2002/01 TO 2002/12
The horse transport studies have been instrumental in providing a basis for USDA and Canada to formulate regulations for the transport of slaughter horses. They have also provided important information for all people who transport horses. Similarly, the studies on circus animals are being used by the circus industry and USDA to formulate guidelines for the transport and management of elephants and tigers. Imprint training of foals and clicker training in general has become very popular in the horse industry. However, the results of this research indicate that both imprint training and clicker training are of no value. The study on behavioral variation of cloned pigs was the first of its kind to prove that there is as much behavioral and physiological variation in cloned animals as in naturally bred animals.

PUBLICATIONS: 2002/01 TO 2002/12
1. Archer, G. 2002. Behavioral, Physical,a nd Physiological Variation Among Litters of Cloned Pigs. M.S. dissertation. Texas A&M University, College Station.
2. Sisto, Anne. 2002. Effects of Seasons on Coping Strategies of Low and High Producing Dairy Cows. Ph.D. dissertation. Texas A&M University, College Station.
3. Williams, J. L. 2002. Clicker Training: Operant Conditioning and Secondary Reinforcers in Horse Training. Ph.D. dissertation. Texas A&M University, College Station.
4. Williams, J. L., T. H. Friend, M. J. Toscano, M. N. Collins, A. Sisto-Burt, and C. H. Nevill. 2002. The effects of imprint training on the reactions of foals at one, two, and three months of age. Appl. Anim.
Behav. Sci. 77:105-114.


Name: Friend, T. H.
Phone: 979-845-5265
Fax: 979-845-5292
Email: t-friend@tamu.edu