Investigators returned once again to the feedlot of Mike McBarron, one of the largest kill buyers in the country. Animals’ Angels already exposed his operation several times, documenting the multi-million dollar empire he created on the backs of our horses. Since the EU ban on horsemeat sourced from Mexico, the number of horses shipped across the border for slaughter has steadily declined. To battle this loss in revenue, McBarron has created yet another booming business: The online brokering of his horses via social media sites. The documentation of his purchases at auctions across the country by AA investigators confirms that McBarron now buys most of the horses strictly for this profitable venue, paying way above meat price for the animals or purchasing horses that would never pass the inspection for export to slaughter. Just recently McBarron purchased a completely blind Arabian mare at the Cleburne auction, knowing that while he could never ship her to slaughter, she would be the perfect candidate for his broker program. Only a few days after being purchased for next to nothing, she was posted with the staggering price tag of $550 and sold shortly thereafter to a well-meaning individual. She was not the only one McBarron made a quick profit on: A 12-year Thoroughbred mare, purchased in Cleburne for $400.00, sold for $975.00.
The conditions at McBarron’s feedlot are poor at best. Animals’ Angels has documented on numerous occasions horses that had just died in the lot without assistance, severely emaciated horses and horses with severe illnesses/injuries. All these observations were reported to USDA and local law enforcement, which created a lot of problems. To prevent further documentation at his feedlot, McBarron erected a large privacy fence along the pen area. However, he would have been better advised to improve the treatment of his horses and the conditions at his lot, since every obstacle can be overcome with the right equipment and skill.
When investigators arrived on 8/30/18, they immediately noticed that all the horses had been moved out of the front pens and into the pens all the way in the back of the property. Some of the horses were visible in the sheltered area next to the barn, but the vast majority was in the barren, large pens behind the barn. The pens were packed full, there were approx. 120 horses inside the lot. Most horses displayed a USDA slaughter tag on their hip, a feature that adds credibility to the slaughter threat when they are offered online. While most horses were in good condition, investigators noted that one of the pens held several horses in bad condition. One horse was emaciated and appeared to be sick, standing motionless in the blazing sun with his head low. Another one had several open cuts all over his face that apparently had not been treated. They had become severely infected and they were covered in puss. Multiple other horses were seen with eye infections and potential strangles infections. None of these horses were offered on McBarron’s social media site, and one can only assume that he does not want his followers to see these kind of animals.
AA investigators monitored the feedlot for a while, but no slaughter transport trucks were observed. However, a lot of private individuals and stock trailers frequented the premises. Animals’ Angels will continue to monitor the activity of this kill buyer and report any relevant information to the authorities in charge.