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BHA targets transparency on horse welfare with major new policy

Updated guidelines aim to improve traceability of young thoroughbreds

Foals will need to be registered within 30 days under new BHA guidelines
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British breeders face a big change in policy regarding notifying officials of their foals from January 1 under a new BHA policy aimed at greater transparency on the whereabouts of horses bred to race in the sport. 

The new policy means breeders are required to notify Weatherbys General Stud Book within 30 days of the birth of a foal bred for racing.

The notification process is, however, separate from registration, which is required for the issuing of passports and horses being microchipped. The rules surrounding registration remain unchanged.

The new ruling has been brought about in the interests of providing greater transparency and information regarding the whereabouts of foals bred to race in the sport before they arrive in a registered training yard, a move that will bring Britain in line with many other major racing jurisdictions. 

"The information gained will improve transparency and traceability around the care that breeders and owners provide to thoroughbreds in the formative stages of their lives, and is critical to our industry upholding its commitment to leading on animal welfare standards," said Jamie Stier, chief regulatory officer for the BHA.

"It will lead to increased accountability in both the racing and breeding industries, and support the BHA in delivering a welfare commitment to our horses which will now encompass their pre-racing lives, as well as their racing careers."

Notification of births will be managed by breeders and owners through Weatherbys' General Stud Book's online system, which will be operational from January 22, 2018. This can be completed at the same time, and on the same platform, as the separate process of foal registration.

There will be no additional fees for notification of birth if carried out within the 30 day window, though an ascending fee structure will be in place for any notifications made after the 30-day period has elapsed.

The development also signals a statement of intent by the British racing and breeding industries' to reflect the relevant European Union legislation, which could well prove crucial in establishing future trading relationships and enabling crucial horse movement rights once the UK leaves the EU.

"The TBA [Thoroughbred Breeders Association] is supportive of the introduction of the 30 day notification of the birth of foals, as it will ensure the timely traceability of horses at all stages of their lives," said TBA chairman Julian Richmond-Watson.

"This new system will ensure we are equivalent to the best amongst EU member countries, thus assisting us in our work to achieve a favourable outcome on the continuity of free movement of thoroughbreds in Europe.

"The development will also further demonstrate breeders' absolute commitment to the highest possible welfare standards. Effective systems to provide traceability are rightly seen as instrumental in dealing with infectious diseases, and in maintaining the high health status of British thoroughbreds.

"The TBA has undergone extensive and lengthy consultation with the BHA to ensure the implementation of this important new system is proportionate and not a significant administrative or regulatory burden to breeders, and is at no cost."

Weatherbys' director of communications Nick Craven added: "Weatherbys fully appreciate the importance of the early notification of foaling and we have enhanced our recently developed online foal registration system to cater for this new requirement.

"Over 75 per cent of British bred foals were registered online this year and the foal notification will be a seamless element of a process which is already working well for breeders. Naturally our Stud Book team will be available to assist breeders and happily answer any questions they may have."

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It will lead to increased accountability in both the racing and breeding industries
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