Dead foals are being dumped across South Wales, leading to fears that irresponsible breeders are getting rid of colts.
At least 14 dead foals have been dumped in the Vale of Glamorgan and Bridgend since mid-April – including four healthy-looking foals left at a fly-tipping spot in Cowbridge in the Vale (pictured).
Concerns are that the gypsy community – which includes one man estimated to run 2,700 coloured cobs in the area – is culling its male foals.
A local woman, who did not want to be named, has kept a diary of welfare issues relating to horses in Glamorgan. She has reported 12 dead foals to the authorities since 11 April.
“I believe they are definitely killing the colts,” she told H&H. “Some of the bodies have already been eaten by animals, so it’s hard to tell their sex, but the others are colts.”
The RSPCA said it was suspicious about the cause of death of the four foals dumped on 4 May in Cowbridge.
A spokesman said the animals were not emaciated and there were no visual signs of cause of death, though blood was spotted on the lower part of one foal’s leg and another had blood visible in its mouth.
Inspector Christine McNeil said: “With no other evidence, it is difficult to tell exactly what has happened to these foals.
“Although they may have died from natural causes or been put to sleep for a legitimate reason, the fact that they are all seemingly healthy young foals does arouse
A spokesman said the charity was investigating the deaths, but would not comment on the foals’ gender.
Equine charity Redwings has been working extensively in the Vale of Glamorgan and has removed hundreds of ponies for welfare reasons this year.
Redwings’ vet Nic de Brauwere said: “If animals are dumped they are nearly always colts. We removed a group of ponies from Cardiff Airport in January and they were all colts.”
Colts are less highly prized than fillies in the travelling community and among breeders of semi-feral natives, as fewer stallions are needed to maintain horse numbers.
Mr de Brauwere said the charity was aware of the spate of foal dumpings, but added that the cause was “a matter of speculation” at the moment.
And Lee Hackett of the British Horse Society, whose local representative was called to some of the cases, said although they had no evidence that colts were being killed, he would not be surprised.
“The problems in this area are a magnified version of a widespread problem across the country – overproduction, the recession and poor prices for ponies, he said.
“While killing off colts is abhorrent it does not surprise me – it’s the next step from dumping them.”
It costs about £300 legally to dispose of a dead horse but it seems people are not willing to spend that.
A local horse owner told H&H: “They are dumping these dead horses and the council – which means the council tax payers – is paying for it.”
A Glamorgan council spokesman said: “We are concerned about the illegal dumping of dead horses. Ten horses have been dumped in the past two weeks.”
If you have information, contact the Vale of Glamorgan County Council in confidence, tel: 01446 700111.
This news story was first published in the current issue of H&H (7 June 2012)