Friday, February 1, 2013

Horse Slaughterhouse in Gore, "For Human Consumption"

You learn something shocking every day.  "Clover Exports Limited", the only horse slaughterhouse in New Zealand licensed to sell horse meat "for human consumption" is in Gore, just 1.6KM from the famous brown trout statue!

The blue dot shows the location of the famous Trout statue, celebrating the quote "World Capital of Brown Trout Fishing".  Fish-killing is big in Gore.

The red dot shows the "Clover Exports" horse slaughterhouse.  To the right of the roundabout before the bridge, and just follow aptly named "River street".

Tribute near a "racetrack" by Gore to "Cardigan Bay", the first Standardbred horse in the world to earn (for the "owner" of course!) a million dollars total money.  An Alliance slaughterhouse is in the background,  with the Gore Racetrack not far north, the Horse slaughterhouse for "human consumption" being only a couple kilometres north.  I took this photo while visiting the "Million Dollar Pacer" geocache dedicated to Cardigan Bay.

The New Zealand Herald has written a story about this very horse slaughterhouse.

"Hundreds, even thousands, of thoroughbred horses that don't win races are sent to be butchered for the dinner tables of Europe - partly because their owners can't afford to keep them.

NZ Thoroughbred Racing says the fates of about 1000 horses a year are unknown, but transporters say the abattoir business is booming.

Now, the racing organisation is considering supporting a new charity, Thoroughbreds Continued, that seeks to find new homes for retired racehorses, in order to save them from the knacker's yard.

As part of a three-month investigation, the Herald on Sunday has spoken to six transport operators who truck thoroughbreds to the Clover Export Ltd abattoir in Gore. Clover is the only licensed meatworks exporting horse meat for human consumption."

The Invercargill Vegan Society had to see this for ourselves, what a horrible find, one of the many slaughterhouses from here in Invercargill to Gore.

"Stockyard" where horses are first moved from the paddocks into the processing chain.

The last free air the horses will see while alive.  They are driven up this chute, up the spiral ramp and into the captive bolt stunning area.  They are killed, and then dismembered, taken to pieces.

Executive offices above the horses spiral ramp, up the metal stairs.  Notice the brand new couch!

The killed, cut up and packaged horse flesh will come out the door on the right.

"Some operators are taking thoroughbreds all the way from Waikato to Southland in cattle trucks shared with sheep and goats. The trips can take days or weeks with stopovers in Tirau, Foxton, Bulls or Christchurch.

Bernie Hutton, a South Island-based horse transporter for 40 years, said he and others in the trade had been taking more thoroughbreds to Gore than ever before.

"Yes, they are often slaughtered very young due to the nature of the industry - but the other side of that is that young thoroughbreds do provide excellent meat for export," he said. "And frankly, the way some of them are neglected, it seems a better fate for them."

"In the last three months I've transported more thoroughbreds to Clover than I had done in three years."

North Island operator Russell Curtin said mum-and-dad racehorse owners had discovered they could no longer afford to feed and stable horses that weren't winning races, and so they were giving them away as horse meat."

The Invercargill Vegan Society members visited the horses in the paddocks to the left of the actual slaughterhouse.  Many of the horses were branded on their shoulders and neck.  They also have different coloured collar bands around their necks.

We took a video outside the horses holding paddock, showing the muddy track directly to the slaughterhouse killing floor.  The horses were curious, and they stayed with us to say hello.


Brands on the neck mean that they are a Standardbred, ie: Trotter or Pacer.  The freeze branding technique is most often used, burning the hair with cold metal rather than heat.

If they are a Thoroughbred (Galloper) there will be a symbol on the left shoulder which is the stud brand. On the right shoulder is a number over another number. The top number is when the foal was born (1 would be the first foal born on that farm), the bottom number is the year of birth so 8 could be 1988, 1998, 2008.

Anyone unbranded or having different brands on the shoulders or brands on the hip etc will be other breeds.

Marked on their neck, this horse was designated a "Standardbred ie trotter or pacer".  It should be mentioned that the very famous New Zealand "race" horse at the start of this blogpost, Cardigan Bay was ALSO a Standardbred horse!

Horse hoof prints in the mud.  Their final walk, from the paddock holding area to the slaughterhouse chute, where they will be horrifically killed.

"You know, I'm glad to hear someone else talk about that," Curtin said. "Thoroughbreds used to be in the minority, but the 'giveaways' on thoroughbreds in the last three to six months is staggering. It's made me wonder what's going on."

A South Island stockman, who asked to not be named, said three out of every five horses he took to Clover this year were thoroughbreds, and he believed the recession was a factor.

"But let's not forget that the reason some owners and trainers choose the road to Gore rather than selling on or re-homing, is that they've shelled out $10,000, $20,000 or $30,000 on a young horse, trying in vain to get it to be a winner. They don't want anyone else to get it later and reap the rewards.""

"A knacker that is named, perversely, Clover Export Ltd."  
George Orwell's great story "Animal Farm" has a clever horse named "Clover".  You can read a sample passage from Animal Farm on the Invercargill Vegan Society (INVSOC) website.  Its a great example of why we are Vegan.

"When breeders like the Moores talk of putting a horse to clover, they never meant having it slaughtered with a bolt between the eyes, butchered, frozen and shipped to Belgium or Russia for the restaurant trade.

"No, no," Angenita exclaims, turning to her husband in shock "They don't do that in New Zealand."

Horse flesh being sold in Gore Countdown as "Economy" non Vegan cat food by the "Jimbos" brand.    Also available at supermarkets across New Zealand, horses are frequently killed for "cat/dog food", but only the slaughterhouse in Gore sells for "human consumption".

The Horse flesh is sold especially cheap.  Does horse flesh look any different than "beef", cows flesh?  As people in the United Kingdom recently found out, nope!  Vegan Ireland radio interview with spokesperson Dr Roger Yates on the recent "horse meat" scandals in Ireland.

Burger King finds quote 
"'very small trace levels' of horse DNA in its products" in its burgers!

Tesco supermarket "accuses Irish meat producer of breach of trust"!

"But the pastoral idyll of a quiet retirement for New Zealand thoroughbreds is no longer, as cash-strapped owners - often mum-and-dad investors or syndicates - discover they can no longer afford to keep underperforming horses. And with a waning demand for hot-blooded former racehorses, the grim road trip to Gore is becoming increasingly common.

Eventually, David 'fesses up. Filly 7/8 was born at Soliloquy as the 7th foal in 2008. She was sired by Russian Hero, out of broodmare mum Heatherton, and she looked fine as a baby. But as she matured, it became clear her legs were "bent".

"So we kept her for more than two years to see if she would mature, if the legs would straighten," he says. "And when it was clear she wouldn't improve, we tried to get some trainers to take her. But the reality is that no one wants a racehorse like that, unfortunately.
"The feed and stable bills keep coming in and this becomes too expensive to support really . . . So we sold her directly from here to Clover." He hadn't realised Clover was exporting the meat for human consumption; he thought it was for pet food. He recalls, they were paid "about a couple of hundred bucks"."

Text from NZ Herald Article on killing horses for human consumption at the "Clover Exports" slaughterhouse in Gore.

While we were in Gore, we saw posters all over the town for the "Interislander Summer Festival Gore Races".  You are promised "free childrens entertainment", "racing action" and "quality family time".  The horses injured at this race and in the barbaric industry in general will quite likely end up at slaughterhouses like "Clover Exports Limited" in Gore.

Likewise with the "Mataura Rodeo", many injuries and much suffering to the animals forced through the events.  "Please", we are asked, "no glass & no dogs"

Next time you visit the big trout in Gore....consider the fact that you are so very close to this awful example of a Non Vegan world, of "animal agriculture".  Just 1.6 kilometres away, walking distance.

The trout statue on your left, bridge crossing the river in front of you.  A simple right turn at the roundabout will take you right to the horse slaughterhouse.  Its really THAT close.

Having turned right at the roundabout onto River Street, you'll see the river itself and the floodbanks.  Here we can notice signs warning subtly whats ahead, NO HORSES ALLOWED......or perhaps that horses will be terminated at the slaughterhouse by giant red slashed circles.

"Clover Exports Limited", slaughterhouses are the end for many Black Beauty-esque "racing" horses.

River Street is paved, but turns to gravel from the Hyde Street corner down.  The green reserve at Hyde/River streets has the youth of Gore playing football, so very close to the horse slaughterhouse.

Slaughterhouse location at 1 River Street Gore

View Larger Map

We live in a Non Vegan world, currently.  There has never been a better time to respect all other animals, and to live a happy Vegan life without hurting or killing cows, sheep, chickens, pigs....or horses :-)

For more information, please visit the Invercargill Vegan Society website.


  1. So what would you rather happen to the horses?

    They be neglected in a paddock with little feed?

    You do realise a lot of these horses are dangerous? How do you propose caring for these animals? On whose land? Who would maintain the feet?

    It's fine and dandy having ideals about the racing world, but what would you do with the huge numbers of horses now who cannot find a home due to either a) neglect b) aggression or c) unsuitability as riding horses paddock mates.

    Come one answer me that?

    1. Hi Ichi, thank you for your comment :-)

      First and foremost, we've done this to the horses, we've made them the way they are, we've brought them into this situation. We've messed up, and as always, they are the ones who suffer.

      These horses are not dangerous, we saw about 20 while visiting the horse slaughterhouse. They came right up to us, and would have eaten out of our hand if we let them :-) These horses are not going to be out there rising the crime rate ;-)

      The obvious answer is for these industries to just leave horses the heck alone, to not bring more and more into this world, to not harm any more horses, and to not kill any more horses.

      Of course, they will continue bringing horses into this world and we'll keep having to deal with their excuses and blame being thrown on animal advocates to deal with the problems they've made and continue to make! :-)

    2. Hi, I’m Hannah. For a school social studies project I am looking into horse slaughterhouses. I need to interview/survey people and see what the majority of what people think. I am trying to get both sides of the argument. It would be great if you could complete my quick questions  Thanks.

  2. Hi, I’m Hannah. For a school social studies project I am looking into horse slaughterhouses. I need to interview/survey people and see what the majority of what people think. I am trying to get both sides of the argument. It would be great if you could complete my quick questions  Thanks.

    1. Hi Hannah, if you would like to ask on my Facebook page for Coexisting With Nonhuman Animals, I would gladly ask other people, Vegan and not Vegan to reply to you there, to help out with your social studies project :-)

      If you would like to post a comment there asking what we think, I would be glad to help you :-)

      How did you find our shows blog Hannah?

      Best wishes, have a lovely weekend :-)


  3. Hi
    I am Georgia Bullock and I am doing a project on Thoroughbred slaughter. I am making a website but I don't have a lot of picture could I please use some of yours I will put the link to your site so viewers can access it.
    Can't wait to hear from you
    Thanks Georgia

  4. You and any other students in future are very welcome to use these photos Georgia :-)

    If anyone would like any more information, please do get in touch with us at the Invercargill Vegan Society , or email :-)

    Have a lovely day, good on you for speaking up

  5. Thank you so much this will be a great help for my website


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