Uruguay | Tranqueras | Slaughter horse collecting station | Horsemeat import
When we arrive at the collecting station of horse dealer Bardanca in Tranqueras, we see about 20 horses on the fields at the edge of the forest. The land Bardanca rents from the forestry company Weyerhaeuser is vast and there are likely more horses inside the eucalyptus plantation but cannot be seen from the road.
We note that several horses are thin with ribs and hip bones clearly visible. One of them, a palomino gelding, has a severe swelling. His right hind leg is swollen from the fetlock to above the hock. There is a suspicion of a phlegmon and his overall condition is rather poor. We find seven horses in the holding pen by the loading ramp, which was always empty on our previous visits. The group consists of four horses, two ponies and one foal. It is very likely that these animals are transported together although they are of significantly different sizes.
According to Uruguayan law , all horses have to be hot-branded and the brand mark has to be applied to their left hindquarters. We do not see the left hindquarters of all horses on Bardanca’s fields and in the holding pen, but those we see have no brand. If they have no brand mark, it is highly questionable that they have the mandatory identification document called “Guía de Propiedad y Tránsito” (Proof of Ownership and Transfer) in which the brand mark of the horses must be recorded. Last year, an official from Rivera told us confidentially that Bardanca is known to be the biggest smuggler of horses from Brazil.