Adviser warns against illegal horse castrations

A tool seized in Northland by authorities in 2007 in an illegal castration case.
A tool seized in Northland by authorities in 2007 in an illegal castration case.

Horse owners have been reminded that illegal horse castrations in New Zealand carry a fine of up to $50,000 or 12 months in jail.

A technical adviser on animal welfare standards, Nicki Cross, described cases of illegal castrations as concerning.

Cross, writing in the latest issue of “Welfare Pulse”, a Primary Industries Ministry publication, said while castration was a relatively simple surgical procedure, it had potentially severe and even fatal repercussions if performed incorrectly or if the horse was not provided with adequate post-operative care.

For this reason, horse castration is classified as a significant surgical procedure under the Animal Welfare Act 1999, meaning such operations can be carried out only by veterinarians or veterinary students acting under the direct supervision of a veterinarian.

The ministry has recently been involved in an investigation into illegal horse castrations in some rural parts of New Zealand, including the Hawke’s Bay and wider east coast area.

“Unqualified people have been found to be carrying out this procedure not only on their own horses but also as part of business enterprises,” Cross said.

“People are choosing to castrate their horses themselves instead of using the services of a veterinarian for a number of reasons including the cost, inaccessibility of veterinary help or simply because horse castration is a farm tradition passed down through the generations.”

Cross said the ministry was keen to spread the message to the public that illegal horse castrations can result in prosecutions.

“This applies to horse owners who allow illegal castration of their horses, as well as the individuals performing the procedure.”

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