From Iceland — Blood Taken From 4,141 Mares At 90 Establishments

Blood Taken From 4,141 Mares At 90 Establishments

Published November 16, 2022

Photo by
Art Bicnick

In 2022, blood was taken from 4,141 mares to produce the eCG/PMSG hormone, reports Vísir. The total number of blooded mares in farmers’ stalls this year equalled 4,779. Blood was taken about 24,000 times in total, at 90 establishments.

According to the biotech company’s Ísteka 2022 report, the blood was taken from mid-July until October. An “average” mare had blood taken 5.8 times, while 20% of mares had blood taken eight times and 31% of stallions had blood taken seven times.

According to the summary, the number of mares that “donate” blood seven or eight times is increasing, but their percentage is 51% now compared to 45.7% on average in the years between 2017-2021. The amount of blood collected was a quarter less than in 2021 due to a decrease in the number of blood transfusion farmers.

“The company believes that the reason can primarily be attributed to the effect that the dishonestly prepared and composite footage of AWF, which was widely distributed and shown on television, had on farmers, along with the stress that comes with feeling marginalised. Unfortunately, the organisation succeeded woefully in its mission to convince many people and organisations with empty claims that they applied to the industry as a whole. The reason for the decline is also attributed to the difficult staffing among veterinarians, but the agility of other veterinarians and the hiring of foreign veterinarians prevented more damage from occurring than it looked like during a period of time,” says the report.

For the record, the AWF did not simply issue a report, but also captured the conditions and treatment of these horses on video. 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 value of blood for an “average production mare” increased from 70 thousand ISK to 95 thousand ISK.

According to the report, Ísteka’s supervising veterinarian visited 90% of the establishments, as well as inspectors on behalf of foreign buyers of Ísteka’s pharmaceuticals visited the majority of farmers. It is also said that Ísteka had questions because MAST visited all farmers during the blood-taking period.

This year, for the first time, all deviations were systematically managed, which occurred in 391 cases. Most of the cases were due to mares showing signs of fear or stress. The majority of them are said to have recovered during their stay in the booth. Repeated abnormalities were recorded in 41 mares.

Accidents were recorded in five mares and one foal, and there were seven deaths of mares, according to the report.

“Then, during the period, cases called ‘excessive use of force’ were recorded in the registration form counting on the fingers of one hand, which is still too much. In Ísteka’s opinion, it is very important that everyone who comes to work with blood collection does not lose sight of their role and always puts the main emphasis on welfare and discretion in their dealings with the mares. This, of course, applies to any kind of animal husbandry,” says the report.

Ísteka’s recommendation that dogs are not in the area when the blood collection takes place was mostly respected. In the future, the company will insist that blood collection does not begin if dogs are present.

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