Hormone Replacement Therapy
Apart from the very worrying human safety aspects of using Premarin (the most commonly prescribed drug for this purpose), there are animal welfare aspects that should be known by the end-user.
Premarin is made from pregnant mare's urine. The mares are impregnated and are then tied up in stalls, for about 6 months of the year (the peak productive time for urine secretion of hormone is usually somewhere between day 200 – 275 of pregnancy), while their urine is harvested. Depending upon size, a mare will produce 0.5 – 0.75 gallons of urine per day (90 – 100 gallons of urine are normally collected from each, during the collection period). They are permitted to foal outside and are allowed to run with their foals for about 6 months. The foal is then taken away and is usually slaughtered, an unfortunate and discarded by-product of hormone production. The mare will be foaled again.
The stall accommodation is a far cry from good welfare. Horses are roaming, grazing creatures and are evolved to run in herds. Their accommodation for 6 months is a little analogous to a human being accommodated in a coffin-sized area. Their inability to exercise and to breathe fresh air results in structural health problems and respiratory disease. Early-weaning of the foal is a psychological welfare issue. Slaughter of the foals is a terrible waste of a ‘useless' life (1 in 10 filly foals may survive, possibly to go back into the system). The meat from the rest (virtually all colts and all but ~10% of the fillies) is possibly marketed in Japan.
The use of this hormone product is very widespread, despite the serious human health risks that have been revealed. This fact is surprising enough. However, that we can continue to keep animals in this way and treat them in such a cavalier and inhumane fashion, is not acceptable in a modern enlightened society. This is especially poignant when folk can maintain skeletal health using natural alternatives to HRT.