New Zealand Authorities Review Illegal Horse Castrations

Inquiries by the New Zealand Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) into illegal horse castration in the Hawke's Bay and the wider East Coast areas of the country have unearthed some concerning findings. Unqualified people have allegedly been found carrying out this procedure not only for their own horses, but as part of business enterprises.

"Horse castration is regarded as a significant surgical procedure and can only be carried out by a veterinarian or a veterinary undergraduate under the direct supervision of a veterinarian," says MPI Wellington/Taranaki District Compliance Manager Mike Green.

"It appears to be a practice that is well ingrained in the culture of the farming and rural community of the wider East Coast area with this service being utilized by many large station owners despite them knowing it to be illegal," says Green.

Penalties for offenses in this area under the Animal Welfare Act 1999 carry a maximum fine of $50,000 or 12 months imprisonment.

"It has certainly been a veterinarian-only procedure for more than 50 years so there are no excuses for anyone being unaware of its status," Green says. "We want to get the message across that continuation of this illegal practice may attract prosecution. This includes horse owners who allow the illegal castration of their horses, and people performing illegal castration of horses."

Veterinarians spoken to in the area say they can provide horse castration services in the more remote areas at reasonable prices provided horse owners plan and are prepared to group together for the same purpose or in conjunction with other veterinary visit needs.

Further information about the Animal Welfare Act 1999 and significant surgical procedures is available online.

Stay on top of the most recent Horse Health news with FREE weekly newsletters from Learn More