Hot-iron branding will not be banned in Germany despite a recent proposal to the country’s parliament, according to the German ministry of agriculture. However, the procedure will soon only be legal when performed under local or general anesthesia.

“Leg branding (in horses) has a meaning as a visible mark of belonging to a breed association and is of importance for some breeders today,” said Vera Müller, spokesperson for the Federal Ministry of Food, Agriculture, and Consumer Protection (BMELV) of Germany in Berlin, in an interview with The Horse. “The German Bundestag has therefore, contrary to the recommendation of the ministry, decided not to ban hot iron branding. However, (the parliament ruled) from 2019 on to allow the process only under anesthesia, for example, by topical application of veterinary drugs.”

The BMELV had requested a ban of the leg branding process in its country, citing that it was “obsolete” since the European Union (EU) mandated identification via microchips in 2009, Müller said. The potential ban was the subject of intense debate this time last year as the proposal was being prepared for vote by the German parliament. At that time, the ministry had expected the vote to pass by the end of the year.

However, the government has rejected the bill banning the practice and replaced it with a requirement to use local or general anesthesia during hot iron branding of