Breeders call for talks with government on extra New Forest pony sales costs
NEW FOREST pony breeders are asking for urgent talks with Defra over increased costs brought in by sudden changes to the way animals must be registered.
Under new rules brought into force on October 1st last year, all New Forest ponies must now be microchipped and registered before arriving for auction at the Beaulieu Road Sales Yard.
The regime replaces a previous system by which ponies could be microchipped and issued with their documentation on the day of the sale – reducing administration, transportation costs and vet fees.
As part of the registration process, the ponies must be inspected by a vet so that five identification markers can be established for each animal.
Verderers’ clerk Sue Westwood said: “This change has certainly impacted on commoners financially.
"Under the old system they only had to arrange to transport their animals to the sale yard on one occasion where everything could be done.
"But now they either have to call out a vet for the microchipping or attend one of the microchipping days which have been arranged to take place a week or two before the sale.”
She added: “The old system of microchipping on the day seemed to work perfectly well so I’m not really sure what prompted Defra to make the change at such short notice.
“I understand that the commoners and the livestock society only had two or three weeks about the change in requirements so it did seem to come rather out of the blue.”
Most practising New Forest commoners sell their animals through the Beaulieu Road Sale Yard although some are sold privately. This year sales are set to be held in May, September, October and December.
The New Forest Trust is responsible for the lease of the sales yard, covers the insurance cost and makes contributions to the New Forest Livestock Society (NFLS) which arranges sale events.
A spokesperson for NFLS said: “With the implementation of the new equine identification legislation which came into effect on 1st October 2018, the derogation currently used by New Forest commoners at the Beaulieu Road Sales had been changed slightly, and meant that it would be virtually impossible to continue with the existing practice of microchipping on the sale day, as stock are required to hold a full passport prior to leaving the derogated area.
“This change came to NFLS at somewhat short notice, and despite talks between local interested organisations and Defra, a solution could not be found for the remaining sales of the 2018 season to continue on the previous basis.
“The NFLS therefore worked closely with others, including the New Forest verderers and the New Forest Pony Breeding and Cattle Society, to arrange two on-site microchipping days prior to the October and December sales to ensure commoners were given the opportunity to have their stock microchipped and passports issued before being sold and to ensure compliance with the new legislation.
“After almost a decade of established activity, and at such short notice, this was not an easy task. But the NFLS were pleased to be able to offer a solution for commoners, even as an interim measure.”
She added: “We are continuing to work with our local partners to establish dialogue with Defra about the future, and the sales to be held in 2019 and will advise further in due course.”