NEW legislation on horse passports is being finalised by the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food.
It requires all horses to have an identification micro-chip inserted and a valid passport issued from an approved stud-book or agency.
The department has consulted with industry representatives over recent months on transposing this European Union regulation into Irish law and its effective implementation.
Agriculture Minister Brendan Smith described the engagement and input from the various representatives as constructive. He said his department will provide for the registration process to be completed by December 31 of the year of birth of the animal, or six months, whichever date occurs later. However, it would engage further with the industry with regard to the sale of weaned foals and, in particular, the benefits and the necessity for these to be identified prior to sale.
Mr Smith also indicated he was about to embark on consultation with the industry on two other related matters. The first concerns a basic requirement in addressing any exotic animal health concern, to have an official register of premises on which animals are kept.
“Such registers are already in place in respect of all other farm animal species in Ireland, but currently no such register exists for horses,” he said.
The second matter relates to the development of a system to notify and record the movement and transfer of ownership from one person responsible for the health and welfare of an equine animal to another where the animal is transferred on a permanent basis.
He said the current system is limited to maintaining records at the time the passport is first issued which means any investigation of an animal health or welfare nature relating to an equine animal may necessitate manual forward tracing from first registration.
Mr Smith said this is a particular concern in ensuring and protecting the health and welfare of horses, given their relative longevity and potential for multiple transfer of ownership.
He said he looked forward to positive engagement by the industry to these proposals which were designed to offer better protection to the animals and to the industry.
They ensure that robust systems are in place to address any animal health and welfare concerns and will be central to the continued success and international reputation of the Irish equine industry.
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