DEFRA has started consultation with the horse industry on how to implement EU legislation passed earlier this year (news, 13 March), that makes microchipping of foals compulsory after 1 July 2009.

On 30 May, Defra held a meeting with a number of equine organisations, including the British Horse Society (BHS), British Equine Veterinary Association (BEVA), the British Horseracing Authority, World Horse Welfare and the Donkey Sanctuary.

A Defra spokesman said: “The industry was asked to identify the key issues and challenges regarding implementation of the new regulation.”

A separate meeting was held with those bodies representing the semi-feral herds on 3 June to discuss issues relevant to this sector.

A follow-up workshop and/or further meetings will be held with the aim of producing a draft set of regulations for full consultation by the end of September. A final set of regulations will be produced by April 2009 for implementation that July.

Lee Hackett from the BHS said: “A few issues were discussed including what standard of microchips will be allowed, where they will be placed, whether vets or other suitably trained professionals will be able to microchip and derogations for semi-feral groups including New Forest and Dartmoor ponies.

“We also discussed whether any additional form of identification will be needed — for example, a silhouette.”

BEVA president David Dugdale added: “We also talked about the removal or destruction of the microchip at the end of the horse’s life if the animal is going for human consumption.”

This news story was first published in Horse & Hound (12 June, ’08)