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Effect of Brexit on Breed Societies/Breeding Animals

  • Animal breeding (zootechnical standards) legislation facilitates the trade, on equivalent terms, of pedigree animals and germinal products (including semen and embryos) and applies to bovine, equine, porcine, caprine and ovine species. It does this by creating voluntary standards which breed societies and others may choose to adopt to help promote their products across the EU and beyond. These standards give breed societies/bodies and breeders a number of rights. For example, a pedigree bull from a recognised UK breed society can be automatically treated as a pedigree by an equivalent breed society in another EU Member State. It also allows a breed society to extend their breeding programme into another member state allowing them to register breeding animals resident in another Member State into their breeding book without them being present in their country and issue zootechnical certificates for those animals.
  • From 1 January 2021, as the UK leaves the EU, we will closely align to the same standards as the EU to ensure that UK breed societies are able to continue trading with breeders in EU member states. However, as the EU law will no longer apply in the UK, the option to extend the geographical territory of a breeding programme will no longer be available to UK Breed Societies. This means that UK breed societies will only be able register and issue zootechnical certificates for breeding animals which are present in the UK under the zootechnical regime. This is why it is recommended that EU based breeders also register their animals in equivalent EU breeding books before 1 January 2021.
  • This is not to say that UK breed societies can’t continue to register EU breeding animals into their breeding book. They can still continue to do so and can issue pedigree certificates for those animals, however, those registrations would not be done under zootechnical terms, meaning those animals would not have an automatic right of entry into an equivalent EU breeding book. Zootechnical standards are entirely voluntary so ultimately it is up to breed societies and their breeders whether they wish to follow these standards or not, however, they should be aware of the impacts on the future trade of these animals. For example:
    • The main impact will come if the breeding animals, progeny and germinal products are traded and entered into equivalent breeding books in the future.
    • If those animals are not registered within an EU breeding book before the 1 January 2021 and are then traded with a breeder in another member state after 1 January 2021 then the UK breed society would be unable to issue a zootechnical certificate for the animals. It would then be for the equivalent EU breed society to decide whether they recognise the animal as an equivalent pedigree breeding animal and it would ultimately be for them to decide whether they register the animals into their breeding book on equivalent terms (i.e. as a pedigree animal).
    • Additionally, zootechnical recognised breeding animals are subject to lowers tariffs (currently 0%) whereas non-zootechnical animals would be seen as commercial animals and subject to higher tariffs.
  • If breeders in the EU wish to continue trading their breeding animals on equivalent terms (under zootechnical rules) after 1 January 2021 then it is recommended that they take action now to also register their breeding animals into an equivalent breeding book within the EU to ensure that their animals can be issued with a valid zootechnical certificate by the UK breed society before 1 January 2021.
  • Taking this action now will ensure that any breeding animals are recognised as pedigree animals in the EU and their progeny and germinal products can be registered within the EU after 1 January 2021.
  • It should be noted that those EU breeding animals, currently registered in UK breeding books, can remain there, however, from 1 January 2021 UK societies can no longer issue zootechnical certificates for those animals which is why EU breeders are being advised that their animals also be registered in an equivalent breeding book before that date.


Please read our guidance for equestrians intending to transport their horse between Great Britain and the EU from 1 January 2021


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