Horse Blood Farming
 By Winniefield Park   •   26th Oct 2016   •   3,463 views   •   0 comments

It’s an industry that most animal welfare groups would agree was secretive. And it’s an industry that many of us are completely unaware of, even though many of us have benefited from it. Hidden away in rural areas, with few regulations or inspections to call too, blood farms are supplying products to pharmaceutical companies like MDS. And some say they are inhumane and unnecessary.

Horse blood serum was formerly used as a carrier for human vaccines, but because some people developed sensitivities to the product, horse blood serum is no longer be used in humans. However, horse blood serum is still used in the production of vaccines for pigs, horses, cattle and small livestock. One example is the use of horse blood serum as a component of antivenom, and the process includes inoculating a horse with the venom of a snake.

Most sources point out three countries where inhumane blood farming is taking place. In South America blood farms are located in Uruguay and Argentina. Here the product is harvested and shipped to for veterinary use in Europe. Other blood farms exist in the United States. A company called Central Biomedia has a farm where blood serum is produced. This facility has been in existence since the mid-1980s.

There are also blood farms in Australia. One claims to use off-the-track Standardbreds, providing them with a happy retirement while still being of service. Serum Australis claims to give its herd healthy and kind treatment and adequate recovery times between harvests. Some like Central Biomedia in Missouri and Quad Five in Montana are open about their existence, with websites that feature information about all of their ‘donor animals’ and the products they produce.

While Australian and North American blood farms may operate within scant laws and minimal animal welfare regulations, those in South America may not. The blood farms in South America harvest mare’s blood so that a hormone called Pregnant Mare Serum Gonadotropin or PMSG can be extracted. The hormone is used to increase the number of piglets a sow will produce, allowing the sow to be bred very shortly after she has been separated from her last brood. So it’s used in the pork-producing industry to increase production. To collect blood for the extraction of PMSG, only pregnant mares must be used. Some sources claim that up to 10 liters of blood may be collected from a mare, a quantity sufficient to put the mare into shock. The mare can die from the extraction, or become anemic. After collection, the mares may be turned out without any supervision, and those that are weak or have become anemic get no care. During the harvest, horses are subject to rough handling and if too much blood is taken, the mare can collapse in the ‘collection box’. Because the blood is only useful if the mare is pregnant, abortions are done so the mare can be re-bred. Eventually, when the mare can no longer carry a pregnancy, it is sent to slaughter.

Is blood farming necessary? Some would say that serums can be replaced with synthetic carriers. But those too come under criticism. Can it be done right? With the right regulations and enforcement, perhaps. What do you think?
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