Iceland is one of the last three countries in the world to allow horse blood farms. But a video from animal welfare associations showing violent abuse on farms has shocked the country. The practices “seem to go against the working conditions of the operation, which aims to ensure the well-being of the mares,” Icelandic veterinary authorities said in a statement, saying they took the case “very seriously” . An investigation has been opened.

Weakened and stricken mares

In this 20-minute video posted on YouTube by the Animal Welfare Foundation and Tierschutzbund Zürich, we see staff brutalizing mares and weakened and severely beaten horses. The video, titled “Iceland, land of 5,000 blood mares”, shows footage of blood collection from live mares, a controversial practice that Iceland is the only one in Europe to carry out. The images were shot between 2019 and 2021, according to the associations.


With Argentina and Uruguay, the Nordic island is one of the three countries in the world where these “blood farms” exist, with more than a hundred farms. The purpose of these farms is to collect the blood of pregnant mares and to collect the hormone ecG (“equine chorionic gonadotropin”) produced by the placenta. This hormone is used by the pharmaceutical industry to improve reproduction in pigs, dairy cows, sheep, beef cows and goats.

Five farms suspended since 2014

In the Nordic country, blood collection in a growing industry is the responsibility of the biotechnology company Ísteka ehf, which uses the product. But veterinarians take care of the blood samples on his behalf.

Almost 5,400 mares have been used for these purposes this year on 119 farms, according to the Icelandic Food and Veterinary Authority. According to her, about 40% of farms are visited annually. “If serious deviations are discovered during the inspection, the operation is immediately stopped. In total, five farms have been suspended from their activities since 2014, ”said the authority on Monday.