USA | Billings - Montana | Horse auction | Horsemeat import
The horse auction in Billings is one of the largest monthly horse sales in the country. Due to its close proximity to the Canadian border, the sale is very popular among kill buyers. Each month, approximately 400 horses are sold to slaughter.
The “slaughter prospects” are kept in an extensive, shelter-less outdoor pen area. 30 to 40 horses are put together in each pen, regardless of their gender, age and size, which often results in unnecessary fighting and agitation. Due to the lack of shelter and frequent cleaning, a lot of these pens are extremely muddy and covered in manure, leaving the horses with no clean and dry resting place during the two-day sale.
Walking through the pen area, we see a white gelding that is lame and has obvious trouble walking. Another horse is holding his hind leg up, a clear sign of pain. We note that the overall condition of the loose horses has changed compared to our last visit, with almost no thin horses being present. On the contrary, many of the horses appear to be overfed and we can’t help but think that they have been fattened on purpose to attract kill buyers.
The loose horse sale starts at 8:00. Kill buyers Mike McBarron from Texas and Jason Fabrizius from Colorado are in attendance as well as an unknown buyer purchasing horses for the Canadian slaughterhouse Bouvry. The buyer for Bouvry battles fiercely with McBarron and Fabrizius over each horse rushed through the auction ring. In just two hours, 415 horses are sold. At 11:20, Fabrizius’ truck pulls up to the loading ramp. The loading of the horses is very chaotic and unprofessional. Fabrizius and his driver are observed hitting the horses over the head and body with full force. Several horses panic and rear up, others slip and fall.