The final countdown to the requirement for all equines in Britain to be microchipped and registered on the Central Equine Database via a British passport-issuing organisation is underway. H&H finds out more...
As part of the Government’s move to tackle horse theft and improve traceability and welfare, all equines in England must be microchipped by 1 October and by 12 February 2021 in Wales. In Scotland, the deadline is 28 March 2021.
The UK’s chief veterinary officer Christine Middlemiss said microchips will not only help police and local authorities, but also support efforts to ensure better control over disease outbreaks.
“This new legislation will ensure irresponsible owners are held accountable for any low standards of welfare,” she said.
World Horse Welfare chief executive Roly Owers told H&H being able to identify every horse – and owner – is “fundamental” to protecting welfare.
“There have been significant improvements in identification since the 2013 European horsemeat scandal, when no enforceable legislation was in place, but creating an effective equine ID system is very much a journey and not a destination,” he said.
“One key development is the establishment of the Central Equine Database, which has the potential to be an invaluable one-stop shop for anyone who wants to verify the identity of a horse. But, as ever, to be able to fulfil this vital function, the information on the system needs to be correct and there needs to be a simple way for owners to update their details.”
Mr Owers said enforcement of the new legislation is “critical”.
“The ability of local authorities to issue fixed penalty notices to owners who do not comply is an important step in the right direction, but again this relies on having the correct information on the database,” he said.
“We will be working with Defra through the British Horse Council to ensure maximum take-up, which means having a system that is easy and cost-effective. For sure, there will be teething issues, but we hope these will be ironed out by April, by which time all equines in Great Britain will have to be microchipped, including those born before 2009.”
Following confusion on the topic of imported horses, H&H clarified with the Scottish government and Defra that owners of horses who have been imported from an EU country and hold EU passports must send the passports to a UK passport-issuing organisation for the horse’s record to be uploaded to the Central Equine Database.
The Scottish government sent guidance to all owners in Scotland, highlighting the requirements and fixed penalties, and the introduction of the ScotEquine card. This ID card can be applied for, allowing owners to transport horses in the country without carrying their passports.
Helene Mauchlen, British Horse Society’s national manager for Scotland, told H&H the society has worked with the Scottish government on the identification initiative.
“The investment the Scottish government is making with biosecurity and traceability is good for all equines and will help prevent diseases,” she said.
The Welsh government has issued guidance to owners (in Wales) encouraging them to get new passport applications and changes to passports in early, as well as ensuring transfer of ownership is updated within 30 days of buying a new horse.
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