The Swiss army is to stop hot-iron branding its horses and mules on the neck from January 1, 2019, saying the practice is “no longer in line with societal development”.
Studies have found that hot-iron branding causes pain and stress, as evidenced by high levels of cortisol in the animal’s blood, the defence ministry said on Friday.
For the last ten years or so, the army has also been implanting electronic chips, which means individual horses can be reliably and adequately identified, according to the ministry.
The ban does not affect hoof marking, which is painless and continues to serve a purpose, it added.
Although the cavalry was dispensed with long ago, the Swiss army still uses horses occasionally. The roster of army animals includes some 57 riding horses and 200 pack horses.