UK Microchip Exemption Sought for Semiferal Foals

Some equine advocates in the United Kingdom want the government to exempt semi-feral foals from proposed mandatory microchipping regulations until they leave public lands because compliance is too costly for the foals' owners.

Mandatory microchipping is necessary in the UK for compliance with European Union equine health and identification rules.

The measure requires that all foals born in the UK receive microchip implants within six months of their birth. Owners would be responsible for purchasing the chips and for veterinarians' fees to implant them. Under the regulation, foals must receive microchip implants within six months of birth or prior to sale. The regulation would go into effect in July.

The measure's opponents argue that it the total cost of £70 ($102 USD) per foal is too high for semi-feral pony owners to recoup when the foals are sold at auction.

According to Sue Westwood, spokesperson for the Verderers, managers of the New Forest National Park where many owners pasture semi-feral ponies, implanting chips in free roaming semi-feral ponies is impractical. Owners will need to wait for late summer round-ups or catch their foals one at a time and hold them at home until a veterinarian can implant the chips.

"This is a lot of money for a foal which might not fetch more than £70 at auction. We'd like to see the proposals scrapped," Westwood said.

The UK's Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) is accepting consults on the measure.

About the Author

Pat Raia

Pat Raia is a veteran journalist who enjoys covering equine welfare, industry, and news. In her spare time, she enjoys riding her Tennessee Walking Horse, Sonny.

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