As reported, Iceland is one of only three countries in the world, including Argentina and Uruguay, who engage in the practice of inseminating mares in order to draw their blood for the extraction of the hormone PMSG, which is used to boost fertility and synchronise births in other farm animals, primarily pigs, for the production of meat. The story was first broken by the Animal Welfare Foundation (AWF) and Tierschutzbund Zurich, who released a graphic and disturbing 20-minute documentary about these farms.
Amongst the other details to come forward in this documentary is the fact that MAST only visits about 40% of these farms, which raised criticism of the institution. MAST director Hrönn Ólína Þorsteinsdóttir likened this criticism to saying that “the police are responsible for someone running a red light,” adding, “It’s naturally the animal owners and companies who bear the responsibility in this matter. We conduct supervision by a specific risk model. What needs to be examined is whether supervision needs to be stricter in this business.”
The video documents that there are 119 such blood farms in Iceland with about 5,000 Icelandic horses overall. Apart from the documented beating, harassment, and poor conditions in which the horses are kept, the procedure itself is also costly for the horses. PMSG can reportedly only be extracted in early pregnancy, and so foals are typically aborted in order to allow for mares to be impregnated twice yearly. Furthermore, the AWF says that about 30% of these mares drop out of the system, either from dying under these conditions or from being sent to slaughterhouses when they can no longer get pregnant.
Parliament is also involved in the investigations of these blood farms, and so a decision may well be reached before year’s end.
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