10. September 2021

Iceland | PMSG production | Blood extraction

Aerial view of large blood farm with six restraint boxes.

Worker whipping horses in the pen area.

Stressed mare biting the front door of the restraint box.

Worker hitting collapsed mare against head and neck.

Video footage obtained on a large blood farm with six restraint boxes shows the everyday treatment of blood mares during blood extraction. The entire procedure, lasting three hours in total, is stressful for the semi-wild horses.

The mares and foals are herded from the pasture to the blood collection site with honking cars, shouting people and barking dogs. They are packed tightly together in overcrowded holding pens, where stressed mares fight frequently and foals risk being injured. After separation from their foals, the mares are forced into the restraint boxes by being beaten with whips, sticks, or wooden planks. They are also hit on their heads as well as on sensitive joints of the hind legs. Once inside the boxes, the mares are restrained with their heads tied up high, so they cannot defend themselves when the large-bore cannula is inserted into their jugular vein. For semi-wild flight animals that are not used to humans, this kind of restraint represents a severe threat and prevents them from acting upon their innate instinct to flee.

These mares have already undergone several blood extractions this year. They show clear signs of stress and fear, probably due to previous traumatisation. The rough and often brutal handling by the workers aggravates their fear and panic. After the blood extraction, most of the mares run away as quickly as they can. Others walk away slowly, shaking their whole body or staggering, indicating dizziness.

We will provide our investigation findings to the EU Commission and the Icelandic authorities and call for a ban on the import and production of PMSG. This fertility hormone does not need to be used in animal breeding; it only serves to increase profits in factory farming.