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Horse Exportation in Canada

Take Action: Canadians have until February 7th to sign and share the following House of Commons petition e-4190, which was created by Canadian icon Jann Arden and demands an end to horse exportation for slaughter. Sign here!

Canada’s Horse Exportation Industry At A Glance:

  • Canada’s horse exportation industry ships roughly 3,000-5,000 horses annually.
  • More than 40,000 draft horses have been exported out of Canada since 2013.
  • Draft horses are purposely bred for exportation, and are shipped out of 3 airports located in Edmonton, Calgary and Winnipeg.
  • Horses are raised in barren feedlots without sufficient protection from the elements.
  • Horses often endure 30+ hours travel time from the moment they’re loaded onto the trailer at the feedlot, to the time they land in Japan.
  • This often exceeds the currently allowed timeframe of 28 hours for horses to go without food water or rest during transport, as per section 152.2 of Canada’s Health of Animals regulations.
  • Horses are randomly paired into cramped wooden crates. This is a direct violation of Canada’s federal Health of Animals regulations which state any horse over 14 hands must be segregated during transport. A point challenged by the Canadian Horse Defense Coalition in a 2019 lawsuit against the CFIA.
  • Canada’s horse exportation industry is not economically justifiable. The roughly $8 million dollar industry is privately owned and run, with no money going back into the Canadian economy.
  • Once horses arrive in Japan, there is no accountability. There is no way to know how they are treated, how long they are housed before slaughter, and how they are slaughtered.
  • Horses are slaughtered for sashimi which is not a staple food in Japanese diets, rather a wealthy delicacy for a niche market.
  • Horses panic easily, have strong fight or flight instincts, and have extremely sensitive hearing, making air transportation incredibly stressful for them.
  • Multiple deaths and injuries have been reported during the loading and transport process, as well as reported deaths once horses are held in feedlots in Japan.


Canada’s Horse Slaughter Industry At A Glance:

  • Canada currently slaughters roughly 25,000 horses annually and is one of the top exporters of horse meat in the world, with an annual revenue of roughly $80 million.
  • Main importers of Canadian horse meat include: Japan, France, Switzerland and the United States.
  • Horses are primarily sourced through auction sales held across the country, including Manitoba.
  • Any horse brought to auction risks being purchased by the kill buyer. This includes companion horses, geriatric horses, compromised horses, young horses, broodmares, papered horses, etc.
  • Owners with compromised or geriatric horses are incentivized to bring them to auction and gain a profit, rather than spending money to humanely euthanize the animal.
  • Horses are purchased at auction at reduced rates and shipped vast distances to barren feedlots, then shipped again to one of three slaughterhouses located in Alberta and Quebec.
  • The U.S. government defunded federal inspections of horse slaughter in 2007, making it illegal to slaughter horses in the United States..
  • Roughly 13,000 horses are imported into Canada from the United States for slaughter annually.
  • Documentation is currently required to accompany each horse purchased for slaughter, that lists all known vaccinations, medical history and drug administration for the animal. Such documentation solely relies on the honour system when reporting conditions and treatments.
  • Phenylbutazone is a Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drug that is currently prohibited by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency in human grade meat for potential human health risks if consumed.
  • Less than 1% of horse carcasses slaughtered in Canada are tested for Phenylbutazone by the CFIA.
  • Horse slaughter is often inaccurately justified as a way to deal with unwanted horses. The Winnipeg Humane Society supports initiatives that focus on regulating the breeding of horses, as well as initiatives that support owner retention of horses.


What You Can Do:

 The majority of Canadians deeply care about horses and want to assist in banning horse exportation and slaughter. The good news is there are many options for advocating for our equine friends:

  • Write to Canada’s Minister of Agriculture and demand horse exportation and/or slaughter be prohibited.
  • Write to your MP and demand horse breeding be regulated
  • Support the efforts of the Canadian Horse Defense Coalition, Canada’s primary horse welfare watchdog group
  • Join the Winnipeg Humane Society’s Animal Compassion Team to volunteer for our public education campaigns.
  • Donate to our animal advocacy efforts to ensure we can continue to stand up for Canada’s horses:
  • Visit and support one of Manitoba’s many horse sanctuaries.


Additional Resources:

Printable WHS Brochure on Horse Exportation/Slaughter: Horse Welfare Brochure

WHS Video Explaining Horse Exportation: Strategic Advocacy: A Case Study on Equine Exportation – YouTube

W5 Expose on Horse Exportation: A glimpse inside Canada’s ‘sinister’ horse meat industry (

Jann Arden’s Horse Exportation Campaign:

WHS Blog Post: Canada’s Unwanted Horses: Is Slaughter Really the Solution

Find Members of Parliament – Members of Parliament – House of Commons of Canada (

If you have further questions, you can contact [email protected].