During our investigations about horsemeat import we were confronted with further cruel practices involving horses in Uruguay and Argentina: blood farms. Places, where the blood of thousands of pregnant mares is extracted without regard for their health and welfare. Their blood contains the hormone PMSG (Pregnant Mare Serum Gonadotropin), which is used in Europe to stimulate and synchronise oestrus in pigs and other farm animals. PMSG can also be used to induce superovulation, which results in larger litter sizes, or to induce puberty in sows.
Since early 2015, we have been investigating about the blood business in Uruguay and Argentina and have regularly reported about our findings. It is a business worth millions, which has existed for more than 30 years. We have spoken to (former) employees of blood farms, neighbours, veterinarians, blood farmers and heads of government departments. Our findings clearly show that in Argentina and Uruguay, more than ten thousand mares are cruelly mistreated and exploited for the piglet industry in Europe. Due to the massive and repeated blood extractions, they become anaemic or suffer from deficiency diseases, and injuries remain untreated. The foals are systematically aborted, because the hormone can only be obtained during early pregnancy, and the foals are unwanted. About 30% of mares drop out of the production every year: they either die on the pastures or are sent to EU-approved slaughterhouses when they no longer get pregnant. In Uruguay and Argentina, the blood business is tolerated and even partly subsidised by the state, and the hormone is profitably used by European pharmaceutical companies (Hipra, Zoetis).
New video footage from January and April 2018 proves that nothing has changed since 2015, despite the allegations of import companies and authorities to have taken control of the situation with new manuals and audits. Pregnant mares are still most brutally abused during the blood extraction process. Injured, sick or emaciated mares still do not receive veterinary treatment but are left to fend for themselves on vast forest pastures.
We believe that European consumers should be informed about this business and the suffering of blood mares. Our main goals are raising public awareness and achieving an EU-wide import ban on PMSG as well as a ban on the use of the hormone in piglet production.