Horse and donkey identification in Western Australia

Page last updated: Wednesday, 17 May 2023 - 8:23am

Please note: This content may be out of date and is currently under review.

Identification of livestock in Western Australia is required under the Biosecurity and Agriculture Management (Identification and Movement of Stock and Apiaries) Regulations 2013 [BAM (IMSA) regulations].

All horse and donkey owners must be registered as owners of livestock and have a current property identification code (PIC) for the property/s where their animals are kept. This allows horses to be traced during disease outbreaks (such as equine influenza in Australia in 2007) and assists in recovering animals in cases of theft.

Owners must register

People with any livestock in WA must be registered as owners with the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD) Brands Office.

There are now two avenues to register: via the new online Brands Portal or with the existing paper-based applications. The Brands Portal is a secure website that allows Beekeepers, Livestock owners and supply chain location operators to manage their registrations online. It is the preferred option for submitting registrations. To register as an owner of stock, login to the Brands Portal online.  

You will be taken to the Welcome page which will guide you through the Digital Identity setup and Brands Portal login procedures. If you are unable or prefer not to use the Brands Portal, you can download and send in the completed paper forms via email or post.

On registration, a property identification code (PIC) will be allocated to the owner to indicate who owns the animals and where they are kept. A PIC card is issued that lists the properties that the owner has nominated to run stock on and the registered identifiers for use with stock. 

For more information see:

Property identification code (PIC)

The PIC is used to identify the property on which the animals are normally kept, whether you own the land or not. When you register as an owner of stock, you enter the details of the property/ies on the registration form. This may be your property, an agistment centre or a friend’s property. In these cases, the owner of that property must sign the registration form to confirm their consent for the animal(s) to be kept on their property.

Having your own PIC on a shared property will allow you to be notified should anything occur on that property that could affect your horse or donkey.

Short-term movements to other properties — such as to a veterinarian, an event, for breaking in or to a breeding centre — do not constitute where the animal is normally kept and so do not have to be listed on your registration form. (These locations will need their own non-farming PIC to indicate that stock are present but do not belong to them.)

Identification requirements

Horses and donkeys must be identified with the registered brand as listed on your PIC card or with an approved identifier - see below for details.

Registered stock brand - two letters and one number

Your registered brand consists of two letters and a number. One of the letters may be ‘lazy’, that is, lying on its side to the left.

Registered identification for horses and donkeys is a freeze or a fire brand.

  • A brand must measure at least 100mm long and 30mm high.
  • Brand on the left shoulder.
  • Animals should only be branded by an experienced operator.

If you purchase a horse or donkey that is already branded, you do not have to re-brand it unless you wish to. You will need to have documents to show that you own the animal.

If you wish to brand newly acquired stock, the registered brand must be applied immediately below the existing brand on the left shoulder. When an age mark is present, the registered brand must be applied immediately below it. If there is insufficient room, the brand must be applied to the right shoulder.

Approved identification

Approved identification is an alternative identification system approved by the WA Registrar of Stock and Apiaries. This can include breed society identification systems and may involve a microchip, an alternative brand or a tattoo.

Owners are still required to be registered with DPIRD.

Breed societies

Once approved by the Registrar of Stock, members of breed societies can use their society’s approved identifier instead of their registered brand if they wish. They are required to keep the ownership records current for each animal.

For the approval process and groups with existing approved identification, see Approved identifiers for livestock

Horses and donkeys other than registered breeds

Animals that are not registered with any breed society or equine association have the option to be identified with a microchip as an approved identifier instead of a registered stock brand. In WA, the animals can only be microchipped by a veterinarian.

Register the details of the animal, microchip and owner with one of the five national pet/animal microchip databases. These details should be updated as ownership changes.

National pet/animal registration databases:

South-West land division

Horses and donkeys in the South-West of WA must be identified with a registered stock brand or an approved identifier before six months of age or before they are moved, whichever occurs first.

Outside the South-West land division

Horses and donkeys outside the South-West of WA must be identified with a registered stock brand or an approved identifier before 18 months of age or before they are moved, whichever occurs first.


Unweaned horses and donkeys

Unweaned horses and donkeys that are moved between properties with the same PIC while accompanied by their mother do not require identification. Their mother must be correctly identified.

Moving horses and donkeys

Unlike other livestock species, a waybill is not required when moving horses or donkeys unless they are being moved to an abattoir for slaughter for human consumption. Waybills can be used if the owner wishes to keep a record of where their animals have been and when.

More information is available on the links below:

Shows and other equestrian meetings

There are currently no legal requirements for organisers of shows and other meetings specifically for horses and donkeys. It is expected that event managers will keep comprehensive details of all attendees and their animals, and exercise good biosecurity practices to both prevent disease spread and assist with traceability if required. The event location should have a PIC.

Offences under the BAM (IMSA) regulations

The following are offences under the BAM (IMSA) regulations:

  • possessing a horse or donkey that is not legally identified
  • using another person’s registered brand
  • applying your brand to a horse or donkey on a different property to those registered to your PIC
  • trading/moving animals that are not correctly identified.

The penalty for a breach of the legislation may be up to $20 000.

Contact information

Livestock ownership, identification and traceability
1300 926 547