FEIF Statement – April 2024

April 16 2024 | General

FEIF condemns the practice of extracting blood from pregnant mares for purely commercial purposes, often resulting in the mistreatment of mares on blood farms. We support the actions taken by responsible authorities and welfare organisations in Iceland and on the continent, and we will continue to use every possibility to speak up against the production and usage of PSMG. We would like to see this practice stopped completely.

Following a recent television programme on blood mare breeding in Iceland and the published information that the business can continue, based on a licence valid until October 2025, the discussion about the controversial industry in Iceland continues. Currently, around 5000 mares in about 90 farms are kept in Iceland for the commercial production of blood.

PMSG is a fertility hormone that is extracted from the blood of pregnant mares for use in factory farming, mainly in pig breeding. The hormone is used to enhance fertility of sows, synchronise births and increase efficiency. The biggest market for PMSG is in Germany.

In March 2022, the Animal Welfare Foundation filed a complaint with the EFTA Surveillance Authority (ESA) regarding a breach of rules applying in the European Economic Area (EEA). As a result of an EFTA infringement, taking blood to obtain the fertility hormone PMSG has been considered an animal experiment in Iceland since November 2023. However, according to the principle of the 3 Rs (replacement, reduction, refinement), animal experiments must be replaced by alternative methods not entailing the use of live animals whenever possible. In the case of PMSG, such alternatives exist.

The open acknowledgement that a country has been in breach of Directive 2010/63/EU paves the way to an EU-wide ban on PMSG production, importation, and use. This is likely to prepare of similar measures worldwide.

At the FEIF conference 2024 in Luxembourg, the Chairperson meeting and FEIF underlined once again that the blood mare business is unacceptable and strongly affects the image of the Icelandic horse including our Social License to Operate (SLO) – the way horse sport is seen by the general public. FEIF and FEIF member countries cannot interfere into Icelandic law, but we have a voice and do not intend to remain silent on the issue.

The notion of fair play, FEIF regulations and the fate of the blood mares in Iceland do not go together. Thank you to all experts, associations, organizations and private individuals who show a strong commitment and continue their work against the blood mare business!

The Board of FEIF