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  Swedish flag Horse slaughter in Sweden has become considerably less common over the last 20 years; horse passport requirements, more stringent rules on emergency slaughter and personal values are all potential reasons for this change. Certainly, horse meat consumption in Sweden is low but the demand is still greater than the supply as horse meat is imported regularly. The majority of horse owners in Sweden choose to have the horses put down in ways other than slaughter. Therefore, slaughtering horses is a secondary activity for most slaughterhouses, and there is rarely a single slaughter line for horses, which means that this slaughter often just takes place on single days of the week. With such small volumes, handling is costly and the carcass price for horsemeat is low compared with most other European countries, where the demand is also considerably greater. Major differences in carcass price can create opportunities for purchasers to earn money by sending Swedish horses for slaughter abroad.  
  From the national horse estimates, it is possible to draw the conclusion that the number of horses reported dead each year is not the same as the number that can be assumed to die, and that horses are probably "missing" from the statistics. It is well documented that live horses are regularly transported long distances for slaughter in Europe. It has been found that such transportation takes place under very poor conditions and results in serious animal welfare problems. As definite information on country of origin is often unavailable for horses transported, it is not possible to rule out the fact that horses "missing" from the Swedish statistics may be being sent to slaughter in other countries. Increasing the slaughter of horses in Sweden may reduce the risk of horses ending up being transported long distances for slaughter, while at the same time Sweden would need to import less horse meat.  
Unloading and moving of animals  
  Privately owned horses are often driven to the slaughter horse in the owner's own horse trailer. Most slaughterhouses know in advance that a horse is on its way and can prepare to receive it directly on arrival. Any horse which is to be slaughtered and used for food must have a passport which includes important information on its identity and any medical treatments.  
  Horse transport. Photograph: Vanja Sandgren, SLU.  
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