Uruguay | Tacuarembó | Auction market | Horsemeat import
At 9:30, driving north in direction of Rivera, we see a huge pen area with cattle and horses next to the road and decide to stop by. Gauchos on horseback tell us that a livestock auction sale took place yesterday and that the animals are going to be loaded today.
Most of the pens hold cattle; there are three pens with horses. Two of these pens hold adult horses mixed with cattle and one pen keeps young horses and foals. There are 40 to 50 horses in total. Many are thin with prominent hipbones, backbones, ribs and sunken flanks. One horse is seriously emaciated and looks very weak. The majority of the horses have neglected, overgrown hooves, some with severe hoof cracks. Several horses are lame. We detect a horse with extreme sway back that has an open wound at the fetlock of the right hind leg. The horse is holding the injured leg up, a posture that indicates pain.
We note that the animals have no access to water and feed. They have been here for at least one day, maybe even longer as animals are often delivered on the day before an auction. It is uncertain if they have been watered and fed ever since their arrival. A lot of horses look exhausted. The pens also offer no shelter and only a few pens have a little shade from a nearby tree. We notice that in the mixed pens, the cattle are standing in the tree’s shadow, whereas the horses are all in the sun.
At 11:00, one group of adult horses is loaded onto a small truck. The loading procedure is very chaotic and rough. With a leather whip, the horses are hit hard over their backs and hindquarters. The loading of this group of horses is finished within less than one minute. The trailer is very crowded. We are told by auction employees and the organiser of the sale that the two groups of adult horses are going to be shipped to slaughter at Sarel or Clay.