Argentina | Río Cuarto | Slaughterhouse General Pico | Horsemeat import
We arrive at the slaughterhouse General Pico at noon. The temperature is 30°C. No horses can be seen from outside, as there is a tall fence with visual cover all along the road blocking the view. We climb a nearby tree in order to get a view onto the premises. We immediately realize that there is insufficient weather protection for the horses. Only one row of holding pens is partly covered by a fabric roof, all the other pens are fully exposed to sun and rain. The horses that are kept further away on large paddocks also have no weather protection whatsoever.
We observe a group of 20 horses in a small and crowded pen. It must have been raining recently, as the dirty pen floor is very muddy and the horses sink into the mud until their entire hooves are covered. A white horse has a bleeding wound on the right hind leg, which is swollen around the injury. We are very surprised to see that none of the horses have ear tags, neither the horses in this small pen nor the ones in the paddocks further away. Some have white numbers or signs (circles, crosses, etc.) painted onto their body, others have no identification at all. We find this very strange, as it is required in Argentina that horses for slaughter are marked with ear tags at the “acopio” (collecting station) before being shipped to the slaughter plant.
In one paddock, we detect a very young foal lying on the ground, exposed to the blazing sun. We also see several pregnant mares in the paddocks as well as a severely emaciated horse with prominent backbone and ribs. The horse looks weak and is standing there lethargically, without moving.
At 14:00 a large livestock truck loaded with approximately 30 horses arrives. We cannot see the unloading from our observation point, but later we observe an employee moving the horses over to the large paddocks, riding on horseback. Two horses are obviously lame; one of them is moreover severely emaciated. A dog is used to push the horses that are lagging behind forward. He is observed biting a horse in the hind leg. We notice that these horses also do not have ear tags, but only a large white dot painted on their neck. This is a very questionable means of identification.