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Equine Welfare in Focus at the EU Intergroup Meeting

By Published On: March 2, 2023Categories: News

Photo credit: A. Beguey/INRAE

On 15th December 2022, the Intergroup on the Welfare and Conservation of Animals watched presentations on the production of the hormone Pregnant Mare Serum Gonadotropin (PMSG), also called Equine Chorionic Gonadotropin (eCG) from mares, and working equids in the EU.

Sabrina Gurtner from Animal Welfare Foundation introduced the investigations and findings on animal welfare concerns arising from the production of the hormone PMSG. It is extracted from the blood of mares at an early stage of pregnancy. Investigations on the production of PMSG show that the volumes of blood extracted exceed international recommendations.  In addition, blood collection is considered to cause stress to the mare. As part of the production process, the pregnancies of mares are normally aborted on PMSG-producing farms in South American.  It was stated that abortions in mares are problematic and potentially fatal at the stage of the pregnancy where PMSG production stops.  Foals born to mares on PMSG producing farms in Iceland are usually slaughtered.

Sabrina Gurtner stated that technologies have now evolved so that the hormones can be synthetically produced without using animals. The EU represents a very large market share of the PMSG market and has a crucial role to play for the welfare of these animals.

Dr. Joe Collins from The Donkey Sanctuary presented a new report on Working equids in the European Union published by The Donkey Sanctuary, World Horse Welfare and Eurogroup for Animals. The report lists some areas of concern where the welfare of working equids needs to be better protected in legislation such as husbandry, working practices, environment and transport. Jessica Stark from World Horse Welfare stated that equines are used for multiple purposes and often fall outside legal categories under current legislation. Their unique status therefore makes them vulnerable.   She also highlighted the need for a list of licensed equine abattoirs and asked for equines to be considered in the discussions on animal welfare labelling.

Christophe Marie from Fondation Brigitte Bardot introduced footage taken by the organisation in the Maurs fare in France in October 2022 depicting the mistreatment of horses. Christophe Marie called for the Intergroup to question the competent authority on this issue.

Questions from MEPs regarding equine welfare were also addressed at the session.


Date of Publication: 15th December 2022


EURCAW Ruminants & Equines