Each year tens of thousands of horses are bred in Australia, with around 17,000 by the thoroughbred and standardbred horse racing industries alone. In addition to this, thousands of horses are also bred by ‘backyard breeders’.
There is currently no compulsory requirement for horses to be registered in Australia. Racehorses, both thoroughbred and standardbred, are registered at birth on separate industry databases. Both databases register how horses leaves racing industry but there is no tracking what happens to the horse after that.
This lack of oversight can have awful consequences for horses. They are often abandoned in paddocks or dumped at saleyards, and eventually end up in knackeries and slaughterhouses.
The benefits of a national register would extend to biosecurity (including for the prevention and management of Emergency Animal Diseases such as equine influenza and African Horse Sickness) safety for riders, backyard breeding and combating rural crime. Similar registers already exist in UK, Europe, and Canada.
Senator Faruqi has a motion in the Senate to establish an inquiry into the feasibility of a National Horse Traceability Scheme. If this inquiry is established, it will give all stakeholders, including the racing industry, horse breeders and animal welfare groups an opportunity to present evidence so the Parliament can decide the best way forward.