A proposal to introduce mandatory identification of all horses in NSW has been welcomed by the Jenko Pony Club at Menai as a way of stopping horse theft and the spread of disease.
The NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI) is seeking feedback from horse owners to see if they support a NSW horse identification scheme.
The idea was originally raised by NSW Police via NSW Rural Crime Investigators.
The DPI says there are many potential benefits of identifying all horses in NSW including improving disease control, tracing the history of a horse and reducing horse theft.
Jenko Pony Club secretary Sally-ann Harmer welcomed the proposal as providing a safety net for horses and their owners.
“It’s a good thing because people are buying and selling horses a lot more frequently these days,” Sally-ann said.
“Having a microchip is a good way of finding out a horse’s history and where they have been.
“There has been a lot of horse theft recently with horses being stolen in NSW and sold interstate.”
Jenko Pony Club has been going for 65 years and has about 75 members.
The club already microchips its ponys that are in competition but not its older animals.
Sally-ann said most of the club members choose to have their horses microchipped for their own safety even if they are not in competition.
“It’s a good safety net,” she said.
“The knowledge of a horse’s history is also a good way of stopping the spread of disease.
“Hendra is only just starting to come across the border from Queensland and hasn’t reached Sydney yet so mandatory identification would help us to check where a horse has come from,” Sally-ann said.
She added that all the Jenko Pony Club’s horses are required to have vaccination for tetanus and strangles.
DPI director of biosecurity and food safety compliance, Peter Day said the department has launched an online survey to gauge the extent of support from horse-owners for the identification scheme.
Mr Day said there are many potential benefits of identifying all horse in NSW, 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 welcome,” he said.
“It could improve disease control and traceability, reduce horse theft and misrepresentation and benefit horse welfare.
“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 horse gather in numbers and pose a higher than normal biosecurity risk.”
Mr Day said it is 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,” Mr Day said.
“Responses to the survey questions will help 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 identifer, 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 of NSW to know where horses are located in the event of a flood, fire or emergency disease outbreak, such as the Equine Influenza epidemic in 2007.”
Currently the requirement in NSW is that horse owners must obtain a property identification code (PIC) for the land on which horses are kept, but some properties with horses don’t have a PIC.
The survey is available to fill out online at www.dpi.nsw.gov.au/animals-and-livestock/horses and should take no longer than 15 minutes to complete.
It will be open until December 1.