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Farm Animal Welfare Council advice on Horse Welfare

The Farm Animal Welfare Advisory Council (FAWAC) has made the following recommendations to the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food in relation to welfare of horses.

The Council advise all horse owners to adhere to the legal requirement for all horses in Ireland to be identified and in possession of a valid passport.  Horses must be identified and documented within 6 months of birth or by 31 December of the year of birth whichever date occurs later.

The Council wish horse owners to be aware that if a horse is not registered it could lead to a significant cost to the owner in the future.  Disposal options for undocumented horses are limited and expensive.

The Council also stress that where a horse is being sold, the seller must do his or her utmost to ensure that the person buying the horse has the capacity to take care of the animal and meet all its health and welfare needs.  The seller bears a responsibility to ensure that the welfare of the horse will not be compromised in the future.

Additionally the Council advocate that in situations where an owner can no longer adequately provide for or where the equine can no longer fulfil the purpose for which it was bred, owners should be proactive in seeking to dispose of the animal before its welfare is compromised  - including consideration of the option of humane disposal where the horse cannot be sold/transferred to another responsible owner.  Such action will help prevent the emergence of long-term and severe animal welfare problems.

It is the responsibility of horse owners throughout the country to ensure the welfare of horses in their care.  FAWAC would like to stress the importance of responsible breeding and responsible ownership. For more information please consult the FAWAC Animal Welfare Guidelines for Horses, Ponies and Donkeys available from the FAWAC website at http://www.fawac.ie/publications.htm.

Note for Editors

The Farm Animal Welfare Advisory Council comprises representatives from a wide range of stakeholder organisations including the Farming, Veterinary and Equine bodies and includes representatives from UCD, Teagasc and Welfare bodies including the ISPCA. It is an advisory body to the Minister with its main purpose to identify ways in which the welfare of farm animals can be further improved and to prioritise areas requiring attention and consider ways of increasing public awareness relating to welfare of farm animals at home and abroad

Date Released: 07 September 2010