BREEDERS who register a foal in 2021 will be issued with a smartcard as well as a traditional paper passport as part of an initiative which is likely to make transporting and tracing horses much more efficient.
Weatherbys confirmed this week that the digital passport for thoroughbreds is on course to be launched in time for next year’s crop, while it is also hoped that the digital passport will be recognised as a legal document by EU and UK authorities, which will be a big help in the event of a no-deal Brexit.
Sharon O’Regan, general manager of Weatherbys Ireland, said: “In terms of functionality, the E-Passport is already fully operational. We just need to get buy-in from the various Government departments. The E-Passport will safeguard the identification and ownership of the animal, and it also has advantages for animal welfare, movement, traceability and recording vaccinations.”
Weatherbys CEO Russell Ferris added: “By tapping the smartcard on your phone, it will allow the owner to access that horse’s digital passport. All the information will be accessible. We are putting forward to the EU and UK authorities that this digital platform will allow horses to move between EU and ‘third’ countries seamlessly. That is what we are trying to achieve. Shippers, veterinary surgeons, breeders and ‘keepers’ will all have access to the one platform, and the secure validation process will greatly increase the speed of processing information, to allow us to move horses more freely. It will be a positive change to how we operate our business.”
Last week the International Sport Horse Confederation (IHSC) Taskforce for Brexit and European Union (EU) Animal Health Law announced that it was backing the digital passport as a solution to moving horses easily in a no-deal Brexit scenario.
Elements of the Weatherbys E-Passport are already in use within Britain, Ireland and other jurisdictions. These elements included vaccination and movement functionality to support the British Horseracing Authority and Horse Racing Ireland with their ‘Return to Racing’ protocols. Weatherbys’ technology also helped trace the movement of breeding stock during the breeding season.
A Weatherbys spokesperson said: “We continue to work closely with both HRI and the BHA regarding the rollout of the Weatherbys E-Passport – this is highlighted by the fact that HRI have made the E-Passport the central digital recording and data repository tool within their five-year Welfare Strategy. In its simplest form the Weatherbys E-Passport is a single, secure platform for all regulatory and legislative requirements relating to identification, health, welfare, movement and ownership.
“The E-Passport will go live to the UK and Irish thoroughbred market in 2021 when it will include stallion, mare and foal registration, pre and post racing vaccinations and medications along with ownership updates and full identification.”
Brian Kavanagh, CEO of Horse Racing Ireland, said: “The work we are doing in conjunction with the IHRB and utilising the Weatherbys E-Passport has been incredibly positive for the pre-clearance of vaccination status. We see the E-passport as a central part of the welfare and traceability strategy for Irish Racing over the coming years.”
David Sykes, director of equine health and welfare with the BHA, said: “The introduction of the Weatherbys Vaccination App played an important role within the protocols that allowed for racing to resume on June 1st. The app brought both improved efficiency and greater security for those working with passports/passport data as the sport resumed behind closed doors during the pandemic.”
Claire Sheppard, CEO of the Thoroughbred Breeders’ Association, said: “We are working very closely with Weatherbys on a larger number of projects - and the Weatherbys E-Passport is central to many of these through the part it can play in identification, traceability, health and welfare benefits for the thoroughbred. Indeed the equine movement element of this technology was vital at outset of the Covid-19 pandemic as it was used to track the movement of thoroughbreds during the breeding season.”
Watch: Search vimeo.com for ‘E-Passport’ for a four-minute video from Weatherbys