Breeding and competition horses affected by new EU animal health law

  • Should the correct status not be granted by the June deadline, this will mean the end of semen importation to Britain. H&H speaks to authorities and experts to find out what work is being done, and how else the industry is affected

    COMPETITION and breeding horses could be affected by new requirements under EU animal health law as an important deadline looms.

    As a result of Brexit, under EU legislation, the UK and EU countries are required to apply to each other for third country status to continue to trade breeding animals and germinal products such as semen and embryos.

    The UK, and all UK studbooks, were granted this status by the European Commission in December, so trade can continue to Europe, but the deadline for EU countries to apply to Defra for the status is 30 June.

    This requirement is in addition to the extension of breeding territory for studbooks, and World Breeding Federation vice president Eva-Maria Broomer told H&H this could have repercussions for the UK equestrian community if third-country status, and third-country studbook status, is not obtained by EU countries.

    “If EU competent authorities have not applied this means they can’t sell the UK germinal products, and that would be the end of the semen trade into this country,” she said. “That is a big risk because British breeders rely on having stallions available to them from Europe.”

    A Defra spokesman told H&H zootech approval within the EU and UK includes an application for recognition as a breed society, and approval of a breeding programme.

    “A breeding programme is a document that sets out the details of what the breed societies’ aims and ambitions are for that breed. It is a set of actions that would include how the animals are recorded, selected, details on breeding and exchange of breeding animals and their germinal products. It’s designed and implemented to preserve or enhance desired phenotypic and/or genotypic characteristics in the target breeding population,” said the spokesman.

    The requirement also has implications for competition horses bred in the EU who are sold to the UK.

    “This requirement is important for the breeding community, but equally important for the riding and competition horses. The original studbooks need to continue to have zootechnic recognition in our country, so that the horses can be sold as registered animals. If a horse is sold from the EU without UK zootechnic recognition the horse is classed as unregistered.” said Dr Broomer.

    “Buying or selling an unregistered horse across the EU border will mean significantly higher import taxes and the horse will be granted a lower health status, which will affect the ability for horses to travel for competitions.”

    The Defra spokesman said unregistered horses have to meet “more onerous” import and export requirements than registered horses, including different blood testing, residency and isolation requirements.

    Trakehner breeder Sacha Shaw told H&H she usually imports semen directly from German studs as there is a limited number of stallions in the UK. This means she will rely on Germany and the Trakehner Verband studbook applying for third country status.

    “The chairman of Trakehners UK is making sure the Verband is aware so they can apply and we can continue to get semen over here. Daughter studbooks in the UK will be making sure the mother studbooks in Europe are aware of the requirement – but for those that don’t have daughter studbooks would they necessarily know that to keep providing for the British market that they need to file the right papers with Defra? I would say before most breeders wouldn’t have been aware of the new requirements, and therefore you don’t really know if studbooks in countries such as the Netherlands and Germany have applied. That’s probably what breeders are most worried about.”

    Sacha has also seen the UK side of proceedings, having been involved in applying for third country status for the British Riding Ponies studbook in her role as office manager for the National Pony Society.

    “We were lucky that we had 826 Equine Studbooks Association to hold our hand but it was fairly simple to apply. It’s not something studbooks should find difficult, it’s just making sure that they know they have to do it in the first place,” she said.

    The Defra spokesman added the body had been “active” in supporting EU competent authorities (ministries of agriculture) to facilitate applications.

    “Applications for third country listing will be accepted past the deadline of 30 June 2021, however after 1 July and until listed, the breeding body will not be able to continue to trade with the UK on equivalent terms.”

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