The ongoing drought is wreaking havoc on the horse industry.
Rusty Addison's horse auction is held on the first Friday of every month at Stephenville Cattle Company. Last week, the auction brought in 763 horses and all but five were from Texas, according to a market report provided by Cheryl Moore, co-owner of the auction barn. The report states there were 259 sellers and 84 buyers. Typically, the sale welcomes about 350 head, Moore said.
While some of the equine sold Friday found new homes, Addison admits not all were delivered to greener pastures.
In fact, Addison said Monday a number of horses are trucked out of Texas and beyond American borders for slaughter every month.
While it may sound inhumane to some, Addison said the sale is often the last stop for horses that are otherwise "unusable and unwanted."
In speaking to the Empire-Tribune in 2007 - shortly after domestic slaughter ceased - Addison said if the horses were not slaughtered, they would most likely be abandoned due to their owners' inability to continue to feed them, provide medical treatment or pay to have the animal euthanized and disposed.
Currently, hay shortage associated with the drought is making those issues more serious.
While horse slaughter facilities in the U.S. closed down four years ago, a recent report in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association (JAVMA) said the same number of horses are still being killed for meat.
"The plant closures have shifted the slaughter horse market to Canada and Mexico and driven down the sale prices of lower-grade horses," the report states. "They've also worsened an already bad welfare situation by forcing horses to travel long distances to slaughter, often in unregulated trips."
From 2006-2010, the number of horses exported from the U.S. to Canada for slaughter increased by 148 percent, and the number exported to Mexico increased by 660 percent, according to the JAVMA.
"As a result, nearly the same number of U.S. horses were transported to Canada and Mexico for slaughter in 2010-almost 138,000-as were slaughtered before domestic slaughter ceased in 2007," the report states. "For reference, 104,899 horses were slaughtered in 2006, the last full year of domestic slaughtering operations."