Branding of horses


Ratification Date: 04 Jan 2019


Horses must be permanently identified, and preferably by radiofrequency identification (i.e. microchip), for management, registration and identification purposes. If branding is considered necessary in addition to, or instead of, electronic identification, the use of freeze branding is recommended. It is recognised that there are circumstances in which fire branding is the only practical option and in such cases appropriate analgesia should be used to minimise distress and/or pain.


Some breed and sporting organisations still require branding of horses, with or without microchipping, because it enables visual identification of horses and is permanent. Branding is still favoured by station managers as an easy and practical form of identification. In addition, not all sites will have scanners for microchips.

Freeze branding is less painful than fire branding, but freeze brands are not easily read under some circumstances and in horses of some colours.


The following guidelines should be observed for branding of horses.

  • The operator must ensure compliance with relevant state laws.
  • Branding should be done by a competent operator.
  • Adequate restraint, and if required, sedation and analgesia, should be used to minimise distress and/or pain and thus ensure the best welfare outcome for the animal.

Other relevant policies and position statements

Electronic identification of animals

Date ratified by AVA Board 18 June 2009