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Equine IDs: What now for the British breeder?


By Imogen Wood

Post Brexit, when the tiresome requirement for UK studbooks to apply for Third Party Listing with the EU through DEFRA (the UK’s department of agriculture) had been fulfilled, British breeders and their hard-working studbooks could only imagine that things would begin to run relatively smoothly on the horse and pony breeding front once again!

Although some breeders still loudly protest about having to register their foals with British-based studbooks, rather than the more prestigious German and Dutch ones for which they were formerly eligible, and given the limited number of EU studbooks awarded Extended Breeding Scheme approval (really only the Holsteiner Verband, as the Trakehners, Hannoverians, Rhinelanders, Connemaras and Irish Draft already have recognized daughter studbooks in the UK), this was regarded as a fairly minor irritant in the British equine breeding industry. But then along came persistent re-infections with Covid-19, horrendous delays at border posts into the EU (still not sorted out to any major degree), and of course all the rising costs generated by the war in Ukraine, which in turn directly affected fuel and horse feed expenses that all those involved in the horse world naturally incur.
If that wasn’t enough, into this heady mix comes DEFRA; never an organization to allow an already stressful situation to become more manageable. Having viewed the regulations laid down in the new EU Animal Health Law (which all those involved in sports horse and pony breeding, training, production, marketing, importing and exporting have to abide by in order to be able to continue trading legally with the EU), DEFRA resailed that much of it related to equine identification and biosecurity, rather than to the monitoring of horsemeat outlets as was previously the case.
Long concerned with the inadequacies of the recording and updating systems of the Central Equine Database (usually referred to as the CED and which DEFRA itself set up as a central database for all equine registration and passport issuing records) and encouraged by a number of powerful equine welfare organizations (who see the powerful and knowledgeable studbook passport issuing organizations as the source of excessive numbers of poorly bred animals, rather than as the solution to the issues occurring in the CED record-keeping systems as they undoubtedly are), in early April DEFRA decided to launch what it described as nationwide ‘Consultation on Improvements to Equine Identification and Traceability in England’ (it cannot do the same for Scotland, Wales and Northern Irelands as these are ‘devolved authorities’ and need to do their own)... To read the complete article you need to be a subscriber