A shocking secret lies behind the efficiency of the pork industry: the use of Pregnant Mare Serum Gonadotropin (PMSG) extracted from the blood of maltreated horses. This hormone helps keep pork production costs low by ensuring that entire herds of sows come into heat and give birth simultaneously. But what are the conditions of the horses exploited for PMSG extraction? And how necessary is the hormone to the pork industry’s success?
The documentary The Hormone Harvest exposes the truth behind PMSG production, delving into “blood farms” in South America and Iceland. Filmed by the German group Animal Welfare Foundation, the footage reveals the weekly ordeals of emaciated mares, beaten into stalls to extract their blood. At the University of Giessen, animal welfare expert Professor Stephanie Krämer is alarmed by the extent of the maltreatment: “Basically, it’s all about efficiency”, she says. “Experience has shown that the more emaciated the mares are, meaning the worse their condition, including their nutritional status, the higher the PMSG level.”*