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PIC information for horse owners

As more and more properties with horses are assigned a PIC, we will be able to more easily determine horse population densities in outbreak and at-risk areas to better estimate disease risks and plan movement controls, testing and vaccination programs, and other control measures. The PIC register also provides a contact list should we need to individually contact horse owners in a particular area.

Many horses travel frequently and might not be on their 'home' property at the time, and other horses might have come onto the property. It is important that we have an indication of the possible or likely presence of any horses and the approximate number.

A PIC is also required for health or export certification of horses, and if a veterinarian submits samples from horses to a government veterinary laboratory for export testing or disease diagnosis. This allows land with horses to be readily identified and mapped and the owner or occupier contacted in the event of any emergency affecting horses, including equine influenza (EI), Hendra virus or equine encephalomyelitis.

Many horse properties will already have a PIC as they run other livestock or pay rates to Local Land Services. Extending PICs to all horse properties makes low-cost use of existing administrative systems and databases.

Normally the property owner should apply for a PIC. However, if that person is unable or unwilling to do so, then horse owners may apply for a PIC provided they can satisfy Local Land Services that they are entitled to do so, such as by providing a copy of a lease or agistment agreement or written permission from the land owner. 

The horse owner should then inform the property owner of the PIC that has been assigned to that property.

Impact of Equine Influenza

During the 2007/08 outbreak of Equine Influenza (EI) control measures were initially hampered by not knowing where horses were located.

The impacts of EI extended far beyond any one horse owner or part of the industry. Losses to the horse community from the 2007/08 EI outbreak were estimated to be more than $1 billion. The direct cost to the Federal and State governments to nationally eradicate EI was more than $110 million with a further $267 million having to be spent on industry assistance. Had EI become established in Australia, many horse owners would have needed to pay a significant cost every year in vaccination costs alone.

Following this outbreak, a task force of major NSW horse industry groups (including racing, eventing, breed and show societies) recommended that all properties with resident horses should be registered with a PIC. The Australia Horse Industry Council supports PICs for horse properties and has asked all states and territories to implement this requirement. 

The national Animal Health Committee, which comprises the Chief Veterinary Officers of every state and territory and the Commonwealth, also agreed that PICs are an essential biosecurity measure for horses Australia-wide. PICs are already required for horse properties in Queensland, Victoria, South Australia, Western Australia, Tasmania and the Northern Territory. 

The extension of PICs to horse properties in NSW brings this state into line with those jurisdictions and meets the needs of a wide range of horse sectors.

Even if your horse has been vaccinated from EI, you still require a PIC. The microchip was used to identify horses following EI whereas the PIC will identify the land on which horses are kept.

Tracing your horses

PIC registers record details of the land and contact details for the owner or occupier of that property. With the completion of the Annual Land and Stock Return sent by Local Land Services, information is also captured about the number of horses which are normally resident on the land. 

Tracing systems comprise four elements:

  • Property registration (PICs). This is the fundamental element, which underpins all others and is now being introduced for horses in NSW.
  • Movement documents, such as the transported stock statement (TSS), which is required for some horse movements. (Most short-term movements are exempt.)
  • Animal identification. Some form of identification is mandatory for most horse industry groups with member registration, e.g. microchipping for thoroughbreds and those registered with Equestrian Australia, freeze branding for standard breds. However, there is no requirement for individual identification of horses not affiliated with any particular group or society. (This makes the requirement for a PIC to record where these horses are particularly relevant.)
  • Movements recorded on a national database (such as for the NLIS database for cattle and sheep). This is not required for horses.

Horse owners are encouraged to keep a travel diary or other records of where their horse has been. 

Movement database

There is no movement database for horses like the NLIS. However, horse owners are encouraged as best practice to keep records of the PICs of land where their horses have been for at least 2 years.

Each year Local Land Services will send a Land and Stock Return to the owner of every property that has a PIC.

This asks for vital information about what species of animals are held on the land.

Selling horses

It is not compulsory to provide a PIC before a horse can be sold. However, buyers are encouraged to ask for the PIC of the property of origin of their new horse, and sellers should request the PIC of the property of destination. 

This will be of assistance if any tracing or horses becomes necessary in the future, and should be part of your biosecurity strategy.

If I am a trainer with a stable complex on a racetrack, do I use the same PIC as other trainers on the same track?

If your stable is within the boundary of the racecourse itself, yes. The PIC relates to the land parcels held by one individual/entity, for example the Australian Turf Club. Each holding of land should only have one PIC.

You may have a situation where a number of trainers use the one racetrack but the stables are located on separately owned blocks adjacent to a racetrack. In this case, the owner of each block needs to apply for a separate PIC. If a person owned six adjacent blocks, they would obtain one PIC that related to all six blocks.

If someone owns one property and leases the block next door, the same PIC can be applied to both properties, if approved by the Local Land Services District Registrar.

Your obligations

The onus is on individual property and stock owners to comply with PIC requirements.

Some organisers of equestrian events are already proposing that it may become a condition of entry to equestrian events that exhibitors provide the PIC of the property that the horse normally resides on.

Any person using a service provided by NSW Department of Primary Industries or Local Land Services, which relates to a property on which a PIC is required, must provide the PIC of that property if requested to do so. For example, property of origin health certification for the export of horses (and other species) will not be signed off unless the PIC of that property is provided.

NOTE: For this reason it is very important to ensure that the name recorded against your PIC, the name under which you sell horses or other stock, and the name given by your veterinarian when making laboratory submissions for disease diagnosis or certification are the same. If there are alternative addresses related to your PIC, please ensure that you mention these and have them recorded by LLS staff.

Compliance of the expanded PIC requirements should be achieved through advisory and market-based activities and incentives led by livestock industries. Regulatory action may occur in high-risk situations or for significant breaches when other methods have failed.