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Make feeding horses/ponies and livestock a specific criminal offence

Submitted by Amanda Barker on Wednesday 27th January 2021

Published on Friday 5th February 2021

Current status: Closed

Closed: Thursday 5th August 2021

Signatures: 10,267

Relevant Departments

Tagged with

Animals ~ Criminal ~ Farmers ~ Feed ~ Feeding ~ Horse ~ Horses ~ UK

Petition Action

Make feeding horses/ponies and livestock a specific criminal offence

Petition Details

A lot of owned animals including horses and ponies have special diets or are prone to illnesses caused by the wrong food.

Additional Information

Livestock if fed the wrong food can get ill and or die and the livelihood of farmers could be at stake.

Horses and ponies can and HAVE choked or got seriously ill resulting in death, because of passersby 'going to feed the animals'.
The wild ponies of the UK are at risk just as much from being wrongly fed. Resulting again in illnesses and death.

We have tried signs and fences to no avail.

The Government needs to take action and stop unnecessary deaths of animals.

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Government Response

The Government responded to this petition on Friday 9th July 2021

The Government shares the public’s high regard for animal welfare and takes action on welfare issues. Our refreshed Countryside Code reminds the public to not feed livestock, horses or wild animals.

We are a nation of animal lovers. The Government is committed to further enhancing our high animal welfare standards and maintaining our position as a global leader in this area, as demonstrated by the recent launch of our Action Plan for Animal Welfare.

We will continue to lead the way in setting standards for horse welfare, complemented by the work done by the equine welfare sector which promotes good welfare practice through its websites and via social media e.g. National Equine Welfare Council’s compendium:

The British Horse Society also works on behalf of all horses in the UK to protect and promote their interests and has published a campaign encouraging the public to be more horse aware at:

Our refreshed Countryside Code, (https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/the-countryside-code) published in April 2021, encourages people to do the right thing when vesting the countryside and promotes positive behaviour to ensure the protection of our outdoor spaces and wildlife.

Changes to the Code include reminders not to feed livestock, horses or wild animals and to stay on marked footpaths, even if they are muddy, to protect crops and wildlife. The Code also advises the public to give animals plenty of space and applies to all land where livestock could be present whether fenced or unfenced, such as moors and commons. It also reminds the public to follow local signs and keep to marked paths unless wider access is available.

Natural England will continue to promote the refreshed Countryside Code over the summer months.

Defra considers that current legislation and guidance provides the right safeguards and powers in respect of horse welfare. However, we will continue to engage with key stakeholders to see if more can be done to encourage best practice among horse owners, as well as increased partnership working in order to tackle the issue of inappropriate feeding of horses and livestock by the general public. Further details of the actions we are taking to enhance and protect animal welfare can be found in our Action Plan for Animal Welfare.

Under the Animal Welfare Act 2006, it is an offence to cause any animal unnecessary suffering or to fail to provide for its welfare. Anyone who is cruel to an animal, or does not provide for its welfare, may be fined, imprisoned and banned from owning or keeping animals. Welfare Codes are made to help keepers understand their obligations under this Act, and guidance on the correct feeding of horses, ponies and donkeys, and the risks of toxic plants can be found in the Code of practice for the welfare of horses, ponies, donkeys and their hybrids: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/700200/horses-welfare-codes-of-practice-april2018.pdf

The Animal Welfare (Sentencing) Act 2021 (the Act) realises the Government’s manifesto commitment to increase the sentences available to our courts for the most serious cases of animal cruelty. The Act came into force on 29th June and provides some of the toughest sanctions in Europe, strengthening the UK's position as a global leader on animal welfare. The Act’s new maximum sentence of five years and/or an unlimited fine will apply to the most serious animal cruelty offences, including causing unnecessary suffering, and is a significant step forward in improving animal welfare.

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

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