Department retains incumbent supplier as requirements for microchips now apply to all horse owners nationwide
With all horse owners throughout England, Wales and Scotland now required to equip their animals with passports and microchips, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has inked a near-£1m extension to its contract for the provision of the national Central Equine Database.
Regulations first introduced in 2018 require that all horses, ponies, donkeys and zebras have an equine passport, which owners must ensure accompanies the animal in question at all times. Requirements that equines are fitted with microchips were introduced from October 2020 in England, and during spring 2021 in Wales and Scotland.
In November 2018, Defra signed a £900,000-a-year deal with specialist firm Equine Register to provide the statutorily required database of all equines in the UK and their registration documentation. The Central Equine Database (CED) delivered by the company now holds information on 1.5 million animals and 81 organisations across the UK that are certified to issue equine passports.
Defra’s contract with Equine Register reached the end of its initial £1.8m two-year term in November 2020; it has since been extended by a further year and newly published procurement information reveals that the department has signed on for a further 12 months, at a cost of £917,242.
The deal now expires on 9 November 2022. This is the final extension available under the terms of the G-Cloud 10 framework through which the original deal was awarded.
As part of the CED, Equine Register also provides Defra with the online Chipchecker service, through which users can enter a horse’s microchip number to find its registration details.
Over the course of two contracts, worth a cumulative £683,500, the Gloucestershire-based company has also delivered data and analysis services to the Livestock Information Programme, which is dedicated to the creation of single digital registration system for sheep, cattle and pigs across England. The project, led by Defra-sponsored non-departmental body the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board and supported by commercial partners, will deliver a replacement for three existing discrete platforms.