November 17, 2003 -- Decreased demand for hormone replacement therapies (HRT) such as Premarin -- derived from the urine of pregnant mares -- has resulted in the cancellation of contracts or herd reductions for many ranchers whose mares provide Wyeth Laboratories and Wyeth-Ayerst Organics with the urine needed to produce estrogen for HRT drugs.
Wyeth -- whose Premarin is the number-one selling estrogen-replacement therapy with 80 percent of the market -- canceled one-third of its contracts with these ranchers late in 2003. The remaining producers will reduce their herds by about 35 percent.
The result for the horse industry is about 20,000 pregnant mares on farms in Canada and the Midwestern United States whose services are no longer needed. The majority of these mares are registered Quarter Horses; Appaloosas, Paints, draft horses and grade horses also are used in the PMU program.
The North American Equine Ranching Information Council represents horse breeders in North America who are involved in the collection of pregnant mare urine (PMU). The NAERIC is working with Wyeth to assist in the sale of mares that will no longer be used in PMU collection programs.
For information on the availability of mares that may be sold due to this development, visit www.naeric.org. A list of member breeders and contact information can be found on the site, along with information on the Council's Buyers' Assistance Program, which assists prospective buyers in finding foals born on PMU ranches.
In addition, several rescue organizations in Canada and the United States are involved in placing foals with new homes. Prospective adopters must have prior experience with horses and arrange for transportation.
For information and a list of rescue groups, visit www.pmufoaladoption.org. Ryerss Farm for Aged Equines in Pottstown, Pa.,
www.ryerss.com also has PMU foals available for adoption each year. Adoption fees on PMU foals range from $400 to $750.