“Blood Farms” in Uruguay and Argentina are used to extract Pregnant Mare Serum Gonadotropin (PMSG), also known as Equine Chorionic Gonadotropin (eCG), from horses to sell it as a fertility hormone used in factory farms in other countries. The European organisations Animal Welfare Foundation (AWF) and Tierschutzbund Zürich (TSB) visited “blood farms” in Argentina and Uruguay where they are produced, and reported seeing emaciated horses, likely because it is believed that underfed mares produce higher amounts of the hormone.
The reports show that in Argentina and Uruguay more than 10,000 mares are cruelly mistreated and exploited for the meat and dairy industries of Europe and other regions. The mares are kept exposed to the elements with no shelter, and some had untreated wounds and lameness. Because the hormone can only be obtained during early pregnancy, the foals are aborted so that the mares can be impregnated twice a year. About 30% of mares drop out of the production system every year because they either die in the pastures or are sent to slaughterhouses.
There have been calls to ban the external trade of these hormones in Europe, but in Canada, it is already approved for use by factory farms looking to trick the bodies of mother pigs into having larger litters. On 18th October 2022, the Eurogroup for Animals called for an end to Equine Chorionic Gonadotropin production, use and imports in the EU. These hormones are also used to stimulate and synchronise oestrus in dairy cows, to induce superovulation, which results in larger litter sizes or to induce puberty in sows.
AWS and TSB have been investigating mare blood farms since 2015 and the Canadian organisation Animal Justice has joined the coalition of animal welfare organizations in calling on authorities to end the suffering they cause.