Authorities in the Australian state of New South Wales are considering whether to introduce mandatory horse identification, and have launched an online survey to gauge opinion.
“This initiative was originally raised by NSW Police via NSW Rural Crime Investigators,” said Peter Day, the director of biosecurity and food safety compliance with the state’s Department of Primary Industries.
“DPI is prepared to take the initiative forward but we would need the support of the horse industry.”
He urged the state’s horse owners to participate in the survey, saying their feedback would help mould the future of the equine industry.
Day said there were many potential benefits of identifying all horses in the state, for example, by microchip, with details registered in a central database.
“It could improve disease control and traceability, reduce horse theft and misrepresentation, and benefit horse welfare,” he said.
“Rider and handler safety could be improved by reducing misrepresentation of a horse’s history and potentially enhancing purchaser information.
“Horse attendance could be more easily recorded at events where horses gather in numbers and pose a higher than normal biosecurity risk.”
Day said it was not proposed that the level of traceability would extend to recording property-to-property movements, as required with the National Livestock Identification System for cattle.
“Any horse identification scheme would require industry support and would only be the result of industry feedback,” he said.
“Responses to the survey questions will help guide us towards the most practical and useful way to record the identity and location of horses.
“This could be the registration of a unique horse identifier, place of residence, owner’s contact details, any change of residence and the death of a horse.
“It would be a big boost to the biosecurity capability of NSW to know where horses are located in the event of a flood, fire or emergency disease outbreak,…