The catchword “Schlachtfohlen” is closely related to the Noriker breed. The topic is emotional and polarizing, but we would like to dedicate ourselves to it. Because it comes up again and again and therefore we have decided to make our personal opinion public. Of course, not everyone has to share this opinion.
Horse the farm animal
Noriker belong to a threatened domestic animal race like e.g. also wool pigs. This means that there are only a few animals of this breed globally and certainly has to do with the limited breeding area in Austria. Nevertheless, many Noriker, especially colts, are slaughtered every year. The same happens with Haflingers, Freibergers but also with warmbloods and other horses. Because horses are regarded as farm animals, even if the thought is terrible for many horse lovers. Why are animals eaten? First of all, you have to check yourself: do I eat beef, pork or chicken? Why do I do that? Because it tastes good to me? Because I don’t know anything else? The same goes for people who have always had a normal intake of horse meat. Because of their sex, almost all farm animals require only a small number of male representatives for breeding and the rest is slaughtered accordingly. This is also the main reason for the slaughter of Noriker foals. In comparison with other breeds not so many Noriks are bred. For the fewest breeders on site it is “profitable” to raise foals, to train them, to provide them with everything they need to sell them as an adult horse only for a low price. This is reinforced by the “Slaughter horse image”. This is how Noriker foals become livestock and slaughtered.
There are many voices that attribute the overproduction of foals to EU subsidies. This subsidises the reproduction of endangered breeds. It is of course meaningless if these are then killed. However, this subsidy does not even cover the costs for a breeding jump, let alone the further care of the mare and the foal. This payment may not be really effective, but certainly not the reason why people breed Noricians. Rather, in Austria this is part of the culture to have Noriker and his offspring in the stable. In addition there are these subsidies also for other animal species. According to this logic there should then also be an “overproduction” of wool pigs, Rhineland German cold-blooded animals etc..
“Slaughter Foal Markets”
In Austria, but also in Bavaria and other places, horse auctions usually take place in autumn, which are now generally called slaughter foal markets. However, the term is misleading and implies for outsiders that only animals for slaughter are auctioned on these markets. But that is not really the purpose of the market. Rather, it is intended for breeders or for people who want to buy a horse. Due to the above-mentioned manageable demand and the livestock situation, it is indeed the case that many horses are bought up by the slaughter dealer. However, this happens every day with other farm animals, for which there is a much smaller lobby. It should be condemned that some of the foals sold are too young.