The number of horses slaughtered for human consumption this year has already surpassed 2,000, according to figures from the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Simon Coveney.

He was answering a Dail question on the legislation around horses slaughtered and if there will be a plan for the depopulation of unwanted horses, from Brendan Smith this week.

According to the Minister, horses identified in accordance with EU and national equine identification legislation, and accompanied by an identification document (passport) compliant with current veterinary requirements are eligible for consideration for slaughter for human consumption. “In this regard, a total of 10,711 horses were slaughtered for human consumption in 2013 and up to end March 2014 a total of 2,055 have been slaughtered for human consumption.” No detail was given as to where these meat from these horses slaughtered for human consumption went – be it Ireland or further afield. 

He said his Department has put procedures in place for dealing with horses that are not eligible for human consumption, at-risk horses and or horses not in compliance with the rules on equine identification. He also said that his Department can facilitate the humane disposal of at-risk horses on farm by way of licensed knackeries and provide emergency funding to assist those horse owners who cannot afford to pay for their humane disposal.

He said farmers who are facing a critical horse welfare issue should contact the Department.