Start-up success for drop-in microchip and passport scheme to combat fly grazing and abandoned horses in south Buckinghamshire

09/10/2012

A horse passport and microchipping day was successfully held at Black Park Slough in Buckinghamshire on Saturday October 6.

Nick White is holding the horse (left) with Thames Valley police officers. Behind Nick is B.H.S. Helen Evans. To the right is veterinary surgeon Joe Sharps and on far right the Councillor Ruth Vigor-Hedderly.

This is part of an initiative suggested to Buckinghamshire County Councillor Ruth Vigor-Hedderly by World Horse Welfare Field Officer Nick White as a way to help deal with the horse related problems of fly grazing and unidentified horses straying onto roads in the Buckinghamshire area. Horse owners were able to drop by and have a passport created and a microchip inserted into their horses for just £25 by a team of vets. The day was implemented by Buckinghamshire trading standards and supported by police with a number of other agencies present including horse welfare agencies and ran from 8am until 3pm.

“A steady stream of horses arrived throughout the day,” said Nick White of World Horse Welfare. “They were all microchipped and, if they didn’t have them already, the horses were issued with passports too. It was good to see people arriving and taking their responsibilities as horse owners seriously. They were welcome to ask questions and advice was given on a wide range of subjects such as transport, laminitis, feeding, and the general daily care of horses”.

Buckinghamshire County Councillor Ruth Vigor-Hedderly was instrumental in setting up the scheme as a way to help overcome problems of abandoned horses and fly grazed horses in her constituency. 

“The aim for the day was for horse owners throughout southern Buckinghamshire to have the opportunity to access microchips and passports for their horses”, Ruth Vigor-Hedderly said. “There is a real need for this scheme here as police and other agencies spend a lot of time dealing with repetitive occurrences of fly grazing and abandoned horses on land in south Buckinghamshire”.

Current legislation demands that horses and ponies not issued with a passport by 1 July 2009, or born after 1 July 2009, must have an electronic microchip implanted by a qualified veterinary surgeon when being first identified for a passport. The chip is very small - similar to a grain of rice – and is implanted into the left side of a horses neck for identification purposes.

Ruth went on to say, “When lost or abandoned horses have no microchip in place, as we often find with older horses, their owners are very difficult to trace. Other councils are watching us to see how drop-in schemes such as this serve to improve the situation, and we hope to encourage other councils to take similar positive action.

“The welfare of the animals is of paramount importance; we’ve got to address the issue of fly grazing and abandonment”.

This initial event will be followed up by further horse passport and microchipping days in other parts of the county of Buckinghamshire with the aim of encouraging horse owners to understand the importance and benefits of complying with the horse passport law. One is planned for November and another for early in the new year.