What the suffering of horses in Argentina means for pigs in Britain | Viva! - The Vegan Charity
What the suffering of horses in Argentina means for pigs in Britain

Find out why tortured horses in Latin America should be of concern to British meat consumers!

This morning’s Mirror article exposing the barbaric treatment of pregnant horses for blood extraction will have come as a shock to many readers. What may come more of a shock is the fact that their suffering facilitates the factory farming of animals in Britain.

Like something out of a horror movie, horses on ‘blood farms’ across Latin America have bore needles inserted into their jugular veins to suck out a hormone - ­Pregnant Mare’s Serum Gonadotropin (PMSG). This hormone is marketed by pharma companies like MSD Animal Health in veterinary drugs so that farmers can speed up the natural fertility cycle of pigs, cows and sheep.

The extraction of blood from horses is a secretive and gruesome side of the factory farming industry which affects thousands of horses yet has, until now, remained relatively secretive. A recent survey of British consumers commissioned by Viva! revealed millions of people have no idea how their ‘food’ is produced. Thirty-eight per cent didn’t even know farmers were allowed to keep breeding, female pigs in farrowing crates which prevent them from turning around. The fact that veterinary drugs containing serum from pregnant mares is used on British farms is a travesty that will not be widely known.

The ‘blood farm’ horse scandal has come to light thanks to an investigation carried out in 2015 by Animal Welfare Federation (AWF). The undercover footage makes for difficult viewing and shows staff beating mares with boards and electric rods to force them in to stalls so their blood can be crudely extracted. In one particularly distressing scene, a mare rests her head-on railings whilst still trembling. She is kicked in the face three times by a worker before she collapses. When watching the footage, it becomes apparent that the horses knew exactly what was coming to them. Up to 10 litres of blood a week per horse can be taken on some farms.

The cruel treatment and continual keeping of mares in pregnancy on these farms should be of grave concern for meat consumers everywhere. It is driven by the farming industry and also means suffering for factory farmed animals. There is no reliable way of knowing which British farm uses PMSG, the farming industry doesn’t advertise that, but it is widely and openly sold here. It is a sad state of affairs that the practice of blood extraction would not be tolerated in the UK. Yet the continual forcing of animals into pregnancy so that their babies can be taken away, often only days after giving birth, is bog standard routine on many British farms. And this should also be of concern to consumers.

This practice means their worn-out bodies are given no time to recover. Why would farmers delay after all? That would only mean a loss in profit. It hurts the animals not only physically however, but also emotionally. And whilst this may be of little concern to the farmer, it should be to the consumer. Sadly, anyone who understands the strong maternal bond between mother and baby will know that maternal separation is painful each and every time. 

Viva! has taken care to include the emotional world for pigs in our report Pig Farming: The Inside Story’. Naturally, weaning is a gradual process and can take up to 15 weeks. Mother sows are bright and sensitive animals with long memories. They are very protective of their babies. When their babies are removed, the impact is likely to be considerable. Curious and playful piglets on farms are then deprived of everything that is natural to them. Including their mother’s love.

The farming industry works hard to whitewash its practices with claims that Britain has the ‘best animal welfare in the world’. Viva!'s undercover investigations revealing the true side of British pig farming show time and time again that this is not the case. And now it is also known that suffering from the other side of the world facilitates factory farming.

So, we urge you, for the sake of both the horses caught up in this vile trade, and the factory farmed animals here in Britain, to leave meat of your plate and try vegan.

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