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This publication is available at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/lists-of-recognised-animal-breeding-organisations/guide-to-zootechnical-rules-and-standards
The rules and standards you must follow if you trade purebred breeding animals, hybrid breeding pigs or germinal products like semen or embryos.
These rules apply if you’re a recognised:
- breed society for purebred breeding animals
- breeding operation for hybrid breeding pigs
You’ll need to make some changes to continue trading with the EU after a no-deal Brexit.
1. Rules and regulations
The Animal Breeding Regulation (Regulation (EU) 2016/1012) requirements include:
- controls on activities of recognised breed societies - including periodic inspections by the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA)
- a new zootechnical certificate for cattle, pigs, sheep and goats and a new equine certificate
- the need for all breeding organisations to create and publish a breeding programme for each breed they support
If your breed society or studbook trades with societies within the EU or Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Iceland, this is considered EU trade.
Zootechnical regulations will change after Brexit but the rules you need to follow will remain largely the same due to the Animal Breeding (Amendment) (EU Exit) Regulations.
There are actions your breed society or studbook will have to take if there’s a no-deal Brexit.
2. Official recognition
Breed societies and studbooks that are officially recognised by Defra or the relevant devolved administration must meet zootechnical rules and standards to trade purebred breeding animals and germinal products on preferable terms.
This means that animals and germinal products from recognised breed societies in one country are treated the same in other countries.
Other countries currently include the:
To become an officially recognised breed society, you must:
- keep a breeding book for your herd or flock
- publish a breeding programme for each breed you maintain
- have legal status (for example, be a limited company)
- employ qualified staff
- operate efficiently - for example, handle and store information safely and manage complaints consistently
- have rules of association which govern membership - for example, rules against discrimination between members
- be able to check the recording pedigrees of the breeding animals
- have a sufficiently large population of breeding animals within the geographical territories
- be able to generate and use data collected on breeding animals, if appropriate
Defra or your local devolved authority will only grant official recognition for one society of each breed at any one time. This is to ensure the integrity of each breed is maintained.
Once your breed society is officially recognised you must your keep your contact information, including email addresses, up to date, by emailing email@example.com with details of any changes.
See the list of officially recognised UK breed societies.
2.1 Official recognition and trading
If a society is not recognised, you must not enter the animals or germinal products that it trades into the main section of your breeding book.
A breed society can have official recognition but not trade. Your society may choose to apply for official recognition to maintain confidence in the integrity of the breed they represent.
Officially recognised cattle breed societies are eligible for higher-rate compensation under bovine TB legislation in England.
If you want your breed society or studbook to trade with the EU or listed non-EU (third) country organisations after Brexit, it needs to be listed and officially recognised by the EU. For equines, if your horse passport was issued by a studbook passport issuing organisation (PIO), it will only be valid for travel if that PIO is listed by the EU.
###Official recognition and approved breeding programmes
To trade on zootechnical terms you must be officially recognised and carry out one or more approved breeding programmes.
You must also be listed by the European Commission or have registered your animals in an EU breeding book to trade with the EU and non-EU countries on zootechnical terms if there’s a no-deal Brexit.
3. How to apply for official recognition
Contact your country’s animal welfare authority for an application form or more information.
3.1 Breed societies in England
Defra manages zootechnical applications for English breed societies.
3.2 Breed societies in Wales
Animal Welfare & By-Products Branch
Office of the Chief Veterinary Officer
3.3 Breed societies in Scotland
Scottish Government: Agriculture, Rural Economy Directorate
Animal Health and Welfare
3.4 Breed societies in Northern Ireland
Animal Identification and Welfare Branch
Veterinary Service Animal Health Group
Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA)
Ballykelly House, 111 Ballykelly Road
3.5 Refusal or withdrawal of official recognition
If your application for official recognition is refused, Defra or your devolved authority will tell you why. You’ll have up to 60 days from the date your application is refused to appeal.
If your application is still refused, they’ll tell you why within 90 days of when your request was received.
If your breed society or operation does not comply with the rules, they may:
- suspend or withdraw breeding programme approval
- suspend issuing of zootechnical certificates
- order the breeding animals not to be entered into breeding books or registers
- order the breeding animals or their germinal products not to be recognised under zootechnical regulations
4. Zootechnical certificates
Zootechnical certificates that breed societies issue must contain specific information about the animals (or germinal products).
The certificates must include the:
- name of the issuing body
- name of the breeding book, and name of the breed
- sex and details about ascendants
- results of any performance tests (where relevant)
The results of performance testing, or genetic evaluation do not need to be entered on zootechnical certificates if the information is publicly available on a website. The website must be referenced on the zootechnical certificate.
The title of all zootechnical certificates must:
- indicate if the animal is a purebred breeding animal or a hybrid breeding pig, or germinal products from purebred breeding animals or hybrid breeding pigs
- include a reference to the taxonomic species
- indicate if the consignment is intended for trade or for entry into the EU
- include a reference to EU Regulation 2016/1012
If you represent a breed society, you’ll need to change your zootechnical certificates. You should use the new multi-species zootechnical certificates as a template. This certificate is ‘portrait’ style and is different from previous ‘landscape’ style certificates.
The certificate must accompany any animal or germinal product that’s traded and entered into another breeding book.
Breed societies in other countries may not accept animals or germinal products accompanied by an old-style zootechnical certificate.
You will not need the new zootechnical certificate if:
- members of the same breed society trade with each other
- the animal or germinal product is not entered into a different breeding book
Breeding animals and germinal products sent from non-EU (third) countries to the UK must be accompanied by a valid zootech certificate. Breed societies in third countries can only issue valid zootech certificates if they are third country listed.
Recognised breed societies must accept animals into their herd or flock books when they are imported from a breed society recognised by an EU or EEA member state. This includes third country breed societies approved by the EU Commission.
See breeding books for more information.
If theres’s a no-deal Brexit, you’ll need to make some changes to continue trading with the EU.
4.1 Cattle, pigs, goats and sheep
You can find the model certificates for cattle, pigs, goats and sheep in EU regulation 2017/1940.
There are separate certificates for:
- trading purebred breeding animals and their semen, oocytes or embryos within the EU in Annex I
- trading hybrid breeding pigs and their semen, oocytes or embryos within the EU in Annex II
- non-EU purebred breeding animals and their semen, oocytes or embryos entering the EU in Annex III
- non-EU hybrid breeding pigs and their semen, oocytes or embryos entering the EU in Annex IV
For equines (for example, horses, ponies and donkeys), zootechnical information is part of the horse passport.
You can see the model horse passport in Annex I of the Equine Passport regulation. You must complete the Certificate of Origin (Section V) to give the relevant pedigree information.
If your equine animal is being traded for entry into another studbook, you should also complete Part II of the zootechnical certificate and attach it to your horse passport.
5. Controls on breed societies
The Animal Plant and Health Agency (APHA) officials carry out checks on breed societies.
These checks will make sure that:
- zootechnical standards are applied consistently
- breed societies are aware of the standards they must meet to keep their official recognition status
- information is collected that helps protect breed genetics and can be used to resolve disputes
- perform paper-based checks where possible and ask breed societies to confirm they comply with the necessary standards
- write to all officially recognised breed societies in England, Scotland and Wales to explain what information they need to provide
In Northern Ireland, the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) will manage this process.
You may be asked to provide further information. If you do not provide it, your breeding programme could be suspended or your official recognition removed.
5.1 Checks when you import or export breeding animals
If you import live purebred breeding animals from outside the EU and ask for a lower duty rate, the UK will check your zootechnical certificate and other documents that show your animal will be entered into a breeding book. Your certificate will be checked at the same time as other animal health checks are carried out.
These checks do not apply to germinal products.
If there’s a no-deal Brexit, when you export purebred breeding animals or germinal products to the EU, the animals must have a valid zootechnical certificate. For equines, your horse passport will only be valid for travel if the passport issuing organisation (PIO) is listed by the EU.
6. Breeding operations in the hybrid pig breeding sector
Defra can recognise all breeding programmes within hybrid pig breeding systems as breeding operations rather than breed societies.
Hybrid pig breeding systems include:
- breeding companies which have either no or a restricted number of breeders bound to it
- breeders’ associations and organisations
If you run a pig breeding business which does not have any members, you can apply to have your breeding operation recognised as a ‘private undertaking operating in a closed production system’.
These companies are exempt from a number of rules which apply to other breeding programmes. They do not:
- have to inform breeders of changes to the breeding programme
- need rules of procedure covering breeders or members
- have to register pigs or germinal products that are not part of the closed production system
- have to publish the results of genetic evaluations
Breeders also have no automatic right to participate in the breeding programme.
For more information or to apply for recognition, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The UK will continue to apply these rules after a no-deal Brexit.
7. Breeding books
Breed societies keep a breeding book which contains pedigree and identification information about the live breeding animals in that herd or flock.
An animal can be entered into the main section of the breeding book if:
- they’re kept on a holding in the EU
- their pedigree can be traced (they’re descended from parents and grandparents that were also entered in the main section of a breeding book of the same breed)
- they are identified according to UK animal health laws (for example, ear tags for cattle and sheep)
- they have a valid zootechnical certificate
Horses and other equines can be entered into a studbook if their parents are in an equivalent studbook (and don’t need to trace back to grandparents).
Animals from non-EU countries cannot be entered into a breeding book unless they are kept on holdings in the EU.
The main section of a breeding book can be divided into classes. However, at least one of these classes must be open to breeding animals which meet the minimum requirements, for example, they meet the breed characteristics criteria and are descended from parents and grandparents also entered into the main section of a breeding book for that breed.
There may also be supplementary sections in a breeding book.
Societies must explain the rules they use to classify and record animals in these sections in the breeding programme.
7.1 Supplementary section in breeding books
Breed societies can add supplementary sections in their breeding book to allow breeding animals whose pedigree cannot be traced, to be part of the herd or flock.
The offspring of these animals may become recognised as pedigree (and be ‘graded up’) over time provided certain conditions are met.
7.2 Grading up
To enter an animal into a supplementary section of a breeding book it must:
- be identified using the herd book rules
- conform to the breed standard
- have minimum performance criteria as laid down by the herd book
Upgrading cattle, sheep, pigs and goats offspring to the main section of breeding books is only allowed through the female line.
If the animal’s ascendants were entered into the supplementary section, it can be entered into the main section if its:
- mother and maternal grandmother are recorded in a supplementary section of a breeding book for the same breed
- a father and two grandfathers are recorded in the main section of a breeding book of the same breed
The offspring of this female and a male purebred breeding animal entered in the main section of the breeding book of the same breed can enter the main section.
As a result, fourth generation male offspring (of a female upgraded to the main section) are eligible to become graded up.
Horses and other equines can be graded up into the main section of the studbook if they meet the entry conditions set out in the approved breeding programme.
7.4 Endangered or hardy sheep breeds
Different rules can apply to certain endangered breeds or hardy sheep breeds. These make it easier to upgrade to the main section of the breeding book.
Animals descended from parents and grandparents recorded in the main or supplementary sections of a breeding book may be eligible for entry into the main section of the breeding book.
If you manage a breeding programme for endangered breeds or hardy sheep breeds and want to upgrade animals in this way, contact Defra or your devolved authority.
- show that there are not enough male purebred breeding animals of that breed available for breeding purposes
- have clear rules to explain grading up
8. Breeding programmes
Official breed societies must explain the breeding activities they carry out to achieve the aims of their society. For example, to improve or preserve a breed.
If your breed society was recognised before 1 November 2018, your society’s activities are considered an approved breeding programme.
Breed societies must have a published breeding programme.
Breed societies recognised after 1 November 2018 must complete an application form to become officially recognised as a breed society and run an approved breed programme at the same time. Email email@example.com to request an application form.
To get approval for your breeding programme, you must:
- provide information about the selection criteria
- explain the breeding objectives
- give evaluation criteria relating to the objectives
- state the country where the breeding programme will be carried out
- explain how you’ll identify individual breeding animals that meet the identification standards of the species
8.1 Purebred breeding animals
Breeding programmes for purebred breeding animals must:
- aim to improve, preserve or reconstruct the breed - the programme can create a new breed, or combine these aims
- include the name and detailed characteristics of the breed, including essential traits
- explain the system for recording pedigrees entered or registered and eligible for entry in the breeding book
8.2 Hybrid pigs
If you run a breeding programme for hybrid breeding pigs and need further information about the requirements email firstname.lastname@example.org.
9. Breeding programme for new, reconstructed or at-risk breeds
If you establish or reconstruct an extinct or near extinct breed, you must give a detailed explanation in the breeding programme – breed societies seeking to do this should email email@example.com to ask Defra for guidelines.
You must also set up a new breeding book if none exists for your breed.
During a period of establishment (that has been agreed with Defra), a new breeding book can include:
- purebred breeding animals
- descendants from purebred breeding animals of a different breed
- any animal which meets the characteristics of the new breed
- any animal that meets the minimum performance requirements of the breeding programme
For new breeds, the breeding programme must:
- set a period to establish the new breeding book - the period set must take account of the generation interval of the species or the breed
- refer to any existing breeding book the purebred breeding animals, or their parents were entered in, for the first time after birth, and include the original registration numbers
- identify animals considered to be the breed’s foundation stock
Once your establishment period of the new breeding book ends, your breed society will be subject to an official audit.
New breeds will be indicated on the public list of breed societies.
Where a breed’s in serious danger of disappearing, or has already disappeared, Defra may authorise you to use other animals in your breeding programme.
These animals may be:
- descendants of purebred breeding animals of the breed, purebred breeding animals or their descendants from other breeds which factor in the reconstruction
- any animal which meets the characteristics of the breed to be reconstructed - it must fulfil the minimum performance requirements in the breeding programme
To carry out one of these breeding programmes, you must make sure:
- a period for the establishment or re-establishment of the breeding book is set in the breeding programme
- the breeding programme refers to any breeding book in which the purebred breeding animals or their ascendants were entered, and the original registration number is included
- the animals that are considered as the breed’s reconstruction stock are identified
Once your establishment period for the new breeding book ends, your society will be subject to an official audit.
The reconstruction of a breed will be shown on the lists of officially recognised breed societies.
9.1 Extend breeding programmes
If you’re a breed society with an approved breeding programme, you can ask to extend your programme into another EU country. To do this you must notify Defra or the relevant devolved administration.
- notify the other member state at least 90 days before the intended start of the breeding programme in that country
- forward details of the breeding programme at least 60 days before it starts
You must be prepared to provide translations of the notification and breeding programme in an official language of that country.
Agreement to extend the breeding programme can only be refused if:
- an approved breeding programme on the same breed is already carried out in that country
- extension of the breeding programme would undermine the essential traits of the breed or objectives of the programme
- extension of the breeding programme would compromise preservation of that breed or genetic diversity
The breeding programme extension rules will change if there’s a no-deal Brexit.
10. Changes if there’s a no-deal Brexit
If you’re an officially recognised UK breed society or breeder, you may need to make some changes to continue trading with the EU and participating non-EU countries.
Once the new process is confirmed, Defra will publish details on this page.
If you don’t trade with EU bodies, you don’t need to do anything differently.
If you export purebred breeding animals or germinal products to the EU, the animals must have a valid zootechnical certificate.
Without a valid certificate, animals may not be entered into breeding books in the EU.
For equines, if your horse passport was issued by a studbook passport issuing organisation (PIO), it will only be valid for travel if that PIO is listed by the EU.
You will not be able to register your animals in the UK with EU breeding bodies after exit day if there’s a no-deal Brexit.
11. Stay up to date
The UK will leave the EU on 31 October. This page tells you how to prepare for Brexit. It will be updated if anything changes, including if a deal is agreed.
Sign up for government-wide email alerts about Brexit.
Sign up for Defra alerts about Brexit and the animal health and welfare sector.
11.1 Get listed in the European Commission list of UK breed societies
If you want your breed society to trade with EU organisations after Brexit, it needs to be listed as an approved third country body. The European Commission keeps a list of breeding bodies in non-EU countries that meet certain requirements for their breeding programmes and society and studbook rules.
If you’re an officially recognised UK breed society that needs to become third country listed, contact Defra at firstname.lastname@example.org. Defra will submit your application for listing as a non-EU (third) country breeding body to the European Commission.
11.2 Registering UK animals into EU herd or flock books before the UK leaves the EU
You may want to register your UK animals into EU herd books or flock books before exit day. This means your breed society can continue to trade with the EU or listed third country organisations without interruption after exit day.
UK animals (and any germinal products they produce) registered in EU herd or flock books before exit day can be issued with a valid zootech certificate recognised by the EU when the UK leaves the EU.
To register your animals, you should contact an equivalent EU breed society or studbook.
You will not be able to register your animals in the UK with EU breeding bodies after Brexit. Registering with EU breeding bodies directly does not affect your existing pedigree registrations with UK flock or herd books, and your animals can be registered in more than one breeding book.
11.3 Exporting breeding animals or germinal products to the EU
If you export purebred breeding animals or germinal products to the EU, they must have a valid zootechnical certificate from a listed non-EU (third) country breeding body.
For purebred breeding animals, certificates will be checked at EU ports of entry and will ensure that the consignments can be entered into equivalent EU breeding books for the same breed.
11.4 Breeding programme extension
UK-based breeders and breed societies will no longer have access to the breeding programme extension.
This means you can only enter animals or germinal products into an EU breeding book if they:
- have a zootech certificate issued by a UK breed society listed by the European Commission
- physically enter the EU
11.5 Zootech trade with non-EU countries
When the UK leaves the EU, breeding bodies currently listed with the EU can continue to send their purebred breeding animals and germinal products to the UK.
The UK will maintain its own list of breed bodies based in non-EU countries that meet the necessary zootechnical standards after Brexit. All non-EU breeding bodies listed by the EU before Brexit will be entered into this new list.
If you’re a UK breed society and want to import an animal from a non-EU breeder and enter it into your breeding books, you should check the breeder is a member of one of the listed breeding bodies.
Animals and germinal products from listed breeding bodies conform to the zootechnical standards and can be entered into a breed society’s breeding book.
11.6 Breeders in Ireland and Northern Ireland if there’s a no-deal Brexit
If your breed society operates on an all-Ireland basis, animals born in Northern Ireland can still be entered into breeding books based in Ireland if they:
- have a valid UK zootech certificate issued by a third country listed UK breed society or studbook
- are moved onto a holding in Ireland (or somewhere else in the EU)
Animals kept on holdings in Northern Ireland that are already registered with an Irish breed society or studbook will be unaffected. The Irish breed society will be able to issue a valid zootech certificate for those animals for trade into the EU .