Before we began farming with draft horses I had never heard of PMU horses. That's what the mares used to produce the drug Premarin are called. When I found out about them and the cruel lives they have on what are essentially factory farms, it broke my heart.
Premarin is a common drug prescribed to millions of women world wide as a hormone replacement therapy. The name stands for PREgant MAres uRINe since the drug is produced from the hormones naturally present in the mare's urine.
PMU mares are usually Belgian draft horses or Belgian / Quarter Horse crosses. Mares are kept in continuous cycles of pregnancy until they can no longer get in foal. For most of their 11 month pregnancies, these horses are confined to stalls so small that they cannot turn around or even take more than one step in any direction. Each wears a catheter and rubber urine collection bag at all times which often causes chafing and lesions.
Rarely are they allowed to freely drink water since that would dilute the concentration of their urine. With no exercise they can't even stretch their muscles or flex their joints as any horse would naturally do. The average lifespan for these horse breeds is usually around 24 years. PMU urine line mares live to be around 8 years old.
The mares only go off the urine line to give birth to their foals and be impregnated again. This cycle is not only cruel to the PMU mares, but it has created an overabundance of unwanted foals, most of who end up sold to the slaughter industry. It's estimated that a filly foal has a 90% chance of going to slaughter; a colt foal 99% chance.
"See the foals - and the mares which can't get pregnant any more - they are the byproduct of the PMU industry. ...We crush 'em and recycle 'em, just like [aluminum] cans."Beginning with the introduction of Premarin in the 1940's, it's estimated more than 1 million foals have been slaughtered thanks to the production of this family of drugs alone.
~ Canadian Slaughterhouse Buyer
The number of PMU farms in North America has decreased over the years from 400 at the peak of manufacture to about 26 currently according some sources. However, like so many other things these days, PMU farm are springing up in other places like China and Kazakhstan.
What you can do:
If you currently take Premarin, Prempak-C or Premphase, ask your doctor about equally effective synthetic or plant based alternaties like:
- The Humane Society
- The Horse Fund
- Last Chance for Animals
- Gentle Giants Draft Horse Rescue
- Equine Advocates
- Equine Voices
Join Talking Dogs, Heart Like a Dog, Pet Faves, and CindyLu’s Muse in this quarter’s Blog the Change for Animals. Here’s to all the creatures we love so dearly!