On February 14th and 15th, 2019, Animals’ Angels & Tierschutzbund Zuerich investigators visited Prime Feedlot in Alberta, Canada. Prime is Bouvry Exports’ largest feedlot with a total capacity of 10,000 horses. Previous Animals’ Angels investigations of the Prime facilities in 2016 and 2013 uncovered horrific conditions, including a lack of shelter from winter weather, escaped horses, and mares dying while giving birth without any medical intervention.
Our team returned to Prime to evaluate whether the facility had made enhancements following the 2016 report. When investigators arrived on the scene at 6:30 am on February 14th, the temperature was -27°F, and the horses had no access to shelter. The animals’ backs were covered in snow and frost, and the ground—coated in manure—was also frozen, posing high risk of injury.
Workers arrived at the facilities around 8:00 am and began conducting regular vehicle surveillance throughout the feedlot, which made the observation more difficult. Vehicles were also seen delivering feed and hay into long troughs alongside each pen. The feed troughs were not covered, and the water troughs were filthy.
Of most significant concern, however, was the condition of the horses. All horses had identifier brands, some still fresh and potentially infected, and one horse bore a green USDA slaughter tag. Overall, many of the Prime Feedlot horses appeared lethargic and unwell. Specific investigator notes include:
- Many horses were struggling with overgrown and cracked hooves, and several animals were coughing and sneezing in the freezing temperatures.
- Foals were observed suffering from acute pain. One foal had a broken, or possibly deformed, left front leg, while another had a bleeding cut on his left shoulder and face. In a separate pen, the body of a dead foal/stillborn foal was present.
- An emaciated and weak horse was observed with frozen diarrhea and blood matted on his tail, yellow discharge running from his nose, and a significant cough. Another horse with diarrhea was also present in the same enclosure.
- A mare was spotted with a severely infected eye injury. The discharge from the eye was so great, it was not clear to investigators if her eye was missing or completely covered by infection.
The Prime Feedlot investigation revealed that improvements were not made following Animals’ Angels previous reporting—and, in some cases, the facility’s abuses have escalated and conditions have declined. From untreated injuries to serious illness to dead foals in pen areas, investigators documented numerous animal welfare violations. Animals’ Angels & Tierschutzbund Zuerich will report all of these findings to the EU Commission and recommend it considers a complete ban on horse meat imported from Canada.