Are horses still sent to the glue fac­tory?

Popular Mechanics (South Africa) - - How Your World Works -

NO. AND THEY KNOW IT, too, the cocky dev­ils. So if you're look­ing to threaten a horse, don't waste your breath mut­ter­ing about how if he doesn't spit out that grass and get mov­ing he's go­ing to end up stuck un­der a pic­ture of some­body's spin­ster aunt in a dusty scrap­book. Tell him in­stead that you'll pack him off to the pet-food fac­tory. It's a far more re­al­is­tic threat and he'll straighten right up, be­lieve us.

An­i­mal glue, which de­rives its ad­he­sive prop­er­ties from col­la­gen, a com­pound found in bones, skin and con­nec­tive tis­sue, has ex­isted for mil­len­nia. The old­est found dates back 8 000 years. Though it's been sup­planted in most ap­pli­ca­tions by mod­ern, syn­thetic glues, which last longer and cost less, book­binders prize an­i­mal glue's slow set­ting time and fur­ni­ture re­stor­ers ap­pre­ci­ate that it's rev­ersible and non-toxic.

The thing is, they don't make it out of horses any­more. It seems there are sim­ply too few to go around these days. “Years ago, when there was an abun­dance of horses, there was a lot of an­i­mal glue from that,” says Jay Utzig, tech­ni­cal di­rec­tor at glue-maker Mil­li­gan & Hig­gins. But com­mer­cial glue-brew­ers need ac­cess to a pre­dictable, scal­able sup­ply of an­i­mal parts; horses don't fit the bill. Cows and pigs are the pre­ferred in­gre­di­ents nowa­days. “You can make it from rab­bits, you can make it from sheep, down the line,” says Utzig. “The rea­son you see beef and pork is be­cause it's abun­dant, it's typ­i­cal.”

Some ex-horses, as we men­tioned, end up in pet-food fac­to­ries, as well as in other un­savoury places. Cer­tain equine com­po­nents are used in bio­fuel; oth­ers in soaps and lo­tions. But we'd like to be­lieve that, for the most part, faith­ful old horses gen­tly lope off into one fi­nal golden sun­set, where they are swiftly con­sumed by ra­bid wolver­ines. PM

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa

© PressReader. All rights reserved.