Cedar Ridge Farms, owned by Jessie Austin and his wife, has been operating as horse traders/kill buyers for a long time supplying Canadian slaughter plants with horses from Virginia and Pennsylvania auctions. (http://community.seattletimes.nwsource.com/archive/?date=20030124&slug=horsemeat24)
They also manage a trailer sales and parts business on the Louisa premises. In addition, Cedar Ridge Farms operates its own trucking company. (DOT #1729608)
The Austins have been known to frequent the New Holland auction in Pennsylvania and the Front Royal sale in Virginia. Cedar Ridge Farms is a large, well maintained location with a modern barn, an office and private residence. There are extensive pastures which are partially wooded. A sizable trailer park with various trailers for sale sits in front of the office.
When our investigators arrived on 10/5, all was quiet with only a few horses and cows visible in the pastures. They were all spread out across the wooded area making it difficult to see their condition. One gray, very thin horse with multiple old scars was observed closely, eating what appeared to be low quality hay from a feeder in the front pasture. Although our investigators monitored the area for some time, there was no activity.
Our investigators returned to the property on 10/8. At this time, there was a lot of activity. There were many more horses in the pasture, close to the barn. Several were very thin. There was constant coming and going during our observation and a Cedar Ridge pick-up truck with stock trailer arrived with more horses.
Strangely, in the back pasture, a large group of at least 20 vultures was spotted, sitting on and around one of the fences and waterers. Investigators were unable to determine what they were interested in as there was too much activity on the premises for them to access that area.
Investigators waited several hours to see if horses would be shipped, but that was not the case. Animals’ Angels will continue to monitor these operations.