04. July 2017

Uruguay | Maldonado | Estancia „Las Marquesas“ | Blood farms for hormone production

[Translate to English:] Eine dünne Stute, die trächtig zu sein scheint.

[Translate to English:] Stark ausgemergelter Hengst mit hervorstehendem Rückgrat, Rippen und Hüftknochen.

[Translate to English:] Boxen mit Metallhaken zur Anbindung der Stuten bei der Blutentnahme.

[Translate to English:] Ein in der Eukalyptusplantage „Don Alcides“ entdeckter Pferdeschädel.

We return to the blood farm of Fernando Perdigón in the hinterland of Maldonado. On the way there, we see groups of horses grazing on forest clearings. Among the mares, there are also a few stallions. Spring is the time of the year when the mares are covered. The new extraction season is about to start and some mares already look pregnant. We note that several horses are in poor condition. A brown mare is very thin and a male chestnut is severely emaciated with spine, ribs and hip bones clearly showing. A grey stallion is lame on the right hind leg. The horses are scared of us and run away. Horses used for PMSG production are half-wild and not familiar to humans.

Video footage from inside the extraction building shows that there are two wooden alleys with four individual stalls each, so that eight mares can be processed at the same time. In each stall, there are several metal hooks to restrain the mare. The white side wall and wooden dividers are splattered with blood.

We talk to a former employee of Perdigón who estimates that about 25 to 30 percent of the mares die during an extraction season. Once he found a severely injured horse on a pasture and told Perdigón, but he did not care and nobody went there to help the animal, who was left to die. We also talk to a neighbour of the blood farm, who tells us that he used to see a lot of dead mares in the fields when riding out on his horses, but the land has recently been reforested and the dead horses removed.

In the late afternoon, we drive to a farm in Lavalleja called “Don Alcides”, where surviving mares are taken to recover after the blood extraction. We see at least 40 horses in a large eucalyptus plantation, but there are likely much more horses in the forest, hidden from our view. One mare has an incised wound of about 10 cm above the hoof, which has obviously not been treated. On the small piece of land we inspect, we discover three horse skulls and many bones. There is an obvious lack of veterinary supervision and care.