15. September 2021

Iceland | PMSG production | Blood extraction

Workers use brute force to move the mares into the restraint boxes.

Workers restrain a mare with a rope and belt.

A panicked mare knocks her head against a low wooden beam.

A mare panics and struggles inside the restraint box, trying to free herself.

A mare communicates with her foal during blood extraction, whinnying repeatedly.

On this relatively small blood farm, blood is extracted today from 60 mares in three restraint boxes, which takes three hours in total. The mares are restrained in the boxes with a belt over their backs so that they cannot rear up. Their heads are pulled up by a rope and fixed to one side of the box. Then, a large-bore cannula is inserted into their jugular vein and five litres of blood are taken from each mare.

Brute force is used on the mares that resist and refuse to enter the restraint boxes. They are hit and poked with plastic sticks, with wooden planks and iron rods. The veterinarian of the pharma company Isteka, who is responsible for the blood collection, does not intervene to stop the mistreatment. The semi-wild mares show clear signs of stress and fear, such as eyes wide open, flared nostrils, trembling, snorting and whinnying. Panicked mares struggle to get free and pull at the rope, some lose their footing and fall, hanging with their heads tied up. Their entire weight is borne by their head and neck, which can lead to hyperextension, ligament rupture or other injuries.

A mare that collapses inside the box gets her leg stuck in the sidewall. A worker repeatedly slaps her in the face in an attempt to make her stand up. When she is finally freed after several minutes, she is clearly lame.

When the mares are released from the restraint boxes, possibly feeling dizzy due to the high volume of blood extracted, a dog chases them away. He barks and tries to bite their tails, which frightens the flight animals. Aggressive dogs are perceived by the horses as a threat of danger.

We urge the EU Commission to stop the import and production of the fertility hormone PMSG, which is also demanded by the EU Parliament. PMSG is a cruelly produced hormone, and it is not necessary for animal breeding.