Video About Blood Mares in Iceland Causes Great Concern

Screenshot from the video

Vala Hafstað

The Icelandic Food and Veterinary Authority (MAST) is examining a video, made by AWF/​TSB (Ani­mal Welfare Foundati­on/​Tierschutzbund Zürich), showing blood being extracted from pregnant mares in Iceland, reports.

Their blood contains the hormone PMSG (Pregnant Mare Serum Gonadotropin), used for the stimulation of ovarian function and activity in farmed animals, such as sows or dairy cows. PMSG can also be used to induce superovulation, which results in larger litter sizes.

Screenshot from the video

“Work procedures shown [in the video] appear to violate work conditions meant to ensure the mares’ welfare,” a statement, posted by MAST yesterday, reads. The statement notes that since a regulation regarding the welfare of horses took effect in 2014, MAST has set clear conditions for the extraction of blood from pregnant mares and gradually increased its monitoring of the activity. “At the same time, this field has been expanding fast, and this year, 5,383 mares were utilized for this purpose at 119 work stations (farms),” the statement explains.

Screenshot from the video

MAST’s monitoring of the operation regards the welfare, surrounding conditions and the physical condition of mares, as well as the welfare of mares when blood is extracted. “The biotechnical company Ísteka ehf, which utilizes the product is responsible for the blood extraction itself, and veterinarians under the auspices of them are in charge of performing the extraction.”

MAST has halted the operation at five such farms since 2014.

The Icelandic Horse Trainers’ Association posted a statement on Facebook yesterday, condemning methods shown in the video and noting that if a mare has not been trained and is inadequately prepared, or does not have the temperament to tolerate blood extraction, it should be the duty of a veterinarian to refuse to perform the blood extraction.

“In our view, what the video shows is systematic and repeated animal cruelty,” the statement reads. The association urges MAST to increase its monitoring of and improve regulations regarding blood extraction from pregnant mares in Iceland.

You can view the video below:


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