Property Identification Codes (PICs) Frequently Asked Questions - horse owners
What does PIC stand for?
PIC stands for ‘Property Identification Code’. As the name suggests, the code is for the property, not the horse, the owner of the horse or the owner of the property. Each property should have only one PIC. A property may consist of a single Lot, or a number of Lot and DP numbers (as listed on the Council Rates notice).
Why do we need PICs for land where horses are kept?
PIC registers record details of the land (address, lots) and contact details (name, address, phone) for the owner or occupier of that property. With the completion of the Annual Land and Stock Return sent by the Livestock Health and Pest Authorities (LHPA), information is also captured about the number of horses which are normally resident on the land. 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.
During the 2007/08 outbreak of EI, control measures were initially hampered by not knowing where horses were located. 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. However, the important thing is that we have an indication of the possible or likely presence of any horses and the approximate number.
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.
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.
PICs are a well-established national system of property registration used by all States and Territories for other livestock. Many horse properties would already have a PIC as they run other livestock or pay rates to the LHPA. Extending PICs to all horse properties makes low-cost use of existing administrative systems and databases. The benefits of PICs are now being recognised by plant industries as well as animal industries, with groups such as the viticulture (grape) industry adopting PICs and other horticultural industries also considering using the PIC system.
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, eg. microchipping for thoroughbreds and those registered with Equestrian Australia, freeze branding for standardbreds. 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.
However, horse owners are encouraged to keep a travel diary or other records of where their horse has been. Organisers of major events have already given indications that they will keep a record of the PICs of horses that enter their events, for biosecurity purposes. (This already occurs in Queensland, and for some events in Victoria.) Similarly it is good biosecurity practice for people buying and selling horses to record origin and destination PICs of the horses that they trade.
How do I apply for a PIC?
You can obtain a PIC by:
- submitting your registration form online,
- downloading an application form and lodging with your local Livestock Health and Pest Authority, or
- contacting your local Livestock Health and Pest Authority.
How much does it cost to get a PIC?
If you already pay rates to the LHPA and have a PIC, there is no additional cost. Owners of cattle, sheep, goats and pigs should already have a PIC since this is compulsory when trading or moving these stock under the National Livestock Identification System (see more on NLIS below). The requirement for a PIC has only recently been expanded to other species, including horses and other equine.
A once-off registration fee of $11 (including GST) will be required for new LHPA ratepayers or current LHPA ratepayers who have stock and do not have a PIC.
People with small blocks (less than 10 hectares and therefore not rateable by the LHPA) where they run only horses will probably not have a PIC. In this case there is a fee of $66 (including GST) to register a PIC for three years.
If I keep horses on a property owned by someone else, who is responsible for obtaining a PIC?
The owner of the property is responsible for obtaining a PIC for that property (usually this is the person who pays the rates on the land.) This applies:
• When you agist your horse on someone else’s land.
• When your work on a property and keep your horse there.
• When you have a training establishment or other business involving horses, based on someone else’s land.
Any person who has or intends moving a horse to any land should satisfy themselves that there is a PIC for that land. (It is strongly advised that you keep a record of that PIC, especially when travelling with your horse.)
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.
But 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. Note that, if a person owned six adjacent blocks, they would obtain one PIC that related to all six blocks.
A person leasing a block can apply for a PIC if they provide evidence to the LHPA of the lease, or the agreement of the owner. If someone owns one property and leases the block next door, the same PIC can be applied to both properties, if approved by the LHPA District Registrar.
What if the land where I keep my horse doesn’t have a PIC?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 the LHPA 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.
My horse was vaccinated and micro-chipped during the equine influenza (EI) - do I still need a PIC?
Yes, the microchip was used to identify horses following EI whereas the PIC will identify the land on which horses are kept.
Will horse movements from one property to another, or to events be required to be entered on the NLIS database like sheep and cattle?No. 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 the LHPA sends 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. The response and eradication plan for the equine influenza outbreak in 2007 was hampered by not knowing where horses were located. This has been one of the drivers for making PICs compulsory. It is compulsory for the Annual Land and Stock Return to be completed and returned in time.
Will it be compulsory to provide a PIC before a horse can be sold, as it is for sheep and cattle?
No. But 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 of horses becomes necessary in the future, and should be part of your biosecurity strategy.
What happens if we don’t comply with the requirement to obtain a PIC?
The onus is on individual property and stock owners to comply with PIC requirements.
It is in the horse industry’s interest to encourage the correct use of PICs as a condition of participation in commercial and recreational activities including shows, sporting and equestrian events. 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. (This is already the case in Queensland.)Any person using a service provided by NSW Department of Primary Industries or an LHPA, 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 LHPA 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.