Hot Branding Now Banned in Germany

This week, after a long and pretty heated debate, the German minister for Agriculture approved a federal ban on the hot branding of horses. 

Currently all horses in the European Union are required to have a microchip in order to be permanently identified although some are using this in conjunction with traditional hot branding. Hot branding is typically used in warmblood breeds with each warmblood having its own symbol. The issue has been met with huge opposition from the major warmblood breed associations such as the Trakehner, Holsteiner and Hannoverian breeds since it was first proposed way back in October 2010.

The German minister of Agriculture Ilse Aigner wants to see branding forbidden in order to protect equine welfare. She said "Scientific experts do not agree about the effects of branding on horses, and we are still talking about a third degree burn to the skin which is very painful".

Germany now joins Scotland, the Netherlands and Denmark who have already banned the practice. Personally, I feel it's a logical step as Germany already has a ban ear cropping and tail docking of dogs as well as the whisker trimming of horses! Freeze branding will not be banned as it is typically seen as being far less painful to the horse but warmblood associations are put off this method due to it's higher cost and the fact it can take longer then hot branding. 

The go on to say that microchipping, although the most popular method in Europe, isn't viable. They say that they can be tampered with, rejected by the body, contain errors and does not act as a visible theft deterrent. Whereas, branding is permanent and clearly visible not just to those with microchip readers.

I'll be the first to say I don't know a lot about hot branding (do they use local anesthetics?) but I cannot understand why they would use this if they know freeze marking does the same job and is more humane? Surely any good breeder who puts their animals first and will agree. Hot branding may have a long tradition behind it but sometimes it's good to break tradition and make the most of modern technology :)

What do you think? Should hot branding be allowed to continue or is this an out-dated and cruel practice?


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