We recently spoke to someone about Embryo transfer mares. While we understood in the breeding industry, transfer or recipient mares were used to carry embryos of what are deemed valuable breeding stock mares that cannot, for whatever reason, carry their own foals, we were not aware of just how many mares are used in industry. We also didn’t know the ages of the mares when they are “retired,” though we are not surprised at their fates, we hate to say.
Just on one reproductive farm in the United States, over 500 mares reside. This is only ONE farm. This particular farm is fairly near the border of Mexico.
This farm is said to be finished using a mare at age 10, and they are typically sold to slaughter. They bear an identifying brand, their unique number within the herd.
They aren’t especially desirable in the equine community for anything after these farms are finished with them, as they are halter broke only because their only purpose is to birth other mare’s foals and raise them until weaning. Sometimes, if they are lucky, the person leasing the mare will purchase her, but that isn’t typical. They are usually large bodied mares, and they are in good condition, so they are a prime for slaughter.
PThere are all kinds of sad aspects of life. We wish these farms would decide to do 2 things, since ending the need isn’t likely to happen:
Before the mares are put in foal, make sure they have a foundation, a job beyond birthing, so that when retired, they are able to find homes as riding partners.
Commit to not selling these mares to slaughter or traders.
There are usually ethical options to most things in life, and there is no reason, except it cuts into time and profit, that the 2 elements above couldn’t be incorporated.
Registries could require ethics standards like this to be met by facilities by not allowing owners to register foals born through the facilities not operating more ethically.
(Photo is not a brood mare from these facilities but a HOP photo of a mare and foal from a backyard breeder situation)