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Protect Horses From Nightmarish Blood Farms

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Sponsor: The Animal Rescue Site

Pregnant mares in Iceland are held captive and drained of their blood for hormones to serve the livestock industry. Take action


More than 5,000 horses are currently being exploited in horrific "blood farms" in Iceland1. These horses are being held captive and drained of their blood for hormones to serve the livestock industry.

Farmers extract the mares' blood, which is turned into powder by the Icelandic pharmaceutical company Isteka2. The powder is then sent to other pharmaceutical companies, which process it into a hormone supplement that livestock farmers give to cows, pigs, and sheep to accelerate reproduction rates.

Pregnant Mare Serum Gonadotropin (PMSG), can even induce early labor, causing pregnant mamas to give birth sooner than is healthy3.

There is demand for mares' blood because increased reproduction leads to more profits for the farmers in industrial breeding, even if it's not natural for the animals4.

Animal Welfare Foundation, based in Germany, obtained covert footage of this horrific treatment5. Video recorded in two facilities shows handlers hitting panicked horses, who are then caged up inside "restraint boxes." Once locked in place, large needles were inserted into the pregnant horses' jugular veins to extract blood.

Through this traumatic process, the blood farms have been regularly extracting around four times the maximum amount that international standards allow — about 1.3 gallons of blood from each horse each week, for 8 weeks in a row6.

It can take several weeks for a mare to regenerate the blood lost in the extraction process. Left terrified and weak, mares must meanwhile produce milk for their newborn foals and support the growth of another in the womb7.

Many Icelanders are not aware these farms exist. But now that video evidence has been revealed, those Icelanders are calling for an end to this blood-harvesting practice8.

Leaders from he European Union are also calling for a ban on "cruel" blood-hormone imports9.

Wild horses should not have to endure this abuse. No animal deserves to be imprisoned and exploited for blood. Sign the petition and tell Iceland's lawmakers to ban "blood farms" and end the extraction and sale of pregnant horses' hormones!

More on this issue:

  1. Ragnar Tómas, Iceland Review (23 November 2021), "MAST Reviewing Footage of Mistreated Mares in Youtube Doc."
  2. Animal Welfare Foundation, Eurogroup for Animals (23 November 2021), "Iceland: animal welfare violations on blood farms."
  3. Sandra L. Ayres (2007), "Current Therapy in Large Animal Theriogenology (Second Edition)."
  4. Alex Blanchette, Society for Cultural Anthropology (26 July 2018), "Blood Mares and the Work of Naturalization."
  5. Animal Welfare Foundation (2022), "Production of PMSG in Iceland."
  6. Nína Hjördís Þorkelsdóttir, Iceland Review (15 December 2021), "Blood Harvesting in Mares Four Times More Frequent Than a Decade Ago."
  7. Xavier Manteca Vilanova, Nancy De Briyne, Bonnie Beaver, and Patricia V. Turner, Animals (Basel) (December 2019), "Horse Welfare During Equine Chorionic Gonadotropin (eCG) Production."
  8. The Straits Times (23 November 2021), "Iceland launches enquiry after blood-mares video emerges."
  9. Abby Young-Powell, The Guardian (16 May 2022), "Iceland urged to ban 'blood farms' that extract hormone from pregnant horses."
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The Petition:

To Iceland's Minister of Fishing and Agriculture and members of the Althing,

Like many of your fellow Icelanders, I am appalled by the "blood farms" which are allowed to imprison and abuse pregnant mares, and drain them of their blood for the benefit of the livestock industry.

The main output in this nightmarish process, PMSG, is made from the blood of these mares, taken forcibly and often to the detriment of these beautiful animals.

Video recorded in two such farms shows handlers hitting panicked horses, who are then caged up inside "restraint boxes." Once locked in place, large needles were inserted into the pregnant horses' jugular veins to extract blood.

Through this traumatic process, the blood farms have been regularly extracting around four times the maximum amount that international standards allow — about 1.3 gallons of blood from each horse each week, for 8 weeks in a row.

It can take several weeks for a mare to regenerate the blood lost in the extraction process. Left terrified and weak, mares must meanwhile produce milk for their newborn foals and support the growth of another in the womb.

No animal should endure this, lest not sentient creatures like wild horses.

For years, blood farms have been banned in the European Union on the basis of animal welfare laws. Iceland is the only country in Europe where the practice is still carried out.

I implore you to amend Iceland's law on animal welfare and ban the operation of blood farms in your country. You will be saving the lives of countless animals from a living nightmare.

Sincerely,

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Signatures: