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Completing Ireland’s first equine census

The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Mr Charlie McConalogue T.D. confirmed the date of the first annual equine census as Tuesday November 30th 2021. Wendy Conlon, Teagasc Equine Specialist has details on how to complete the equine census by Friday December 17th, here

Tuesday November 30th is Equine Census date

The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Mr Charlie McConalogue T.D. confirmed the date of the first annual equine census as Tuesday November 30th 2021.

Any person who keeps any equine, which include horses, ponies, donkeys, asses or mules overnight on 30th November 2021 is required to submit a completed census return to DAFM by Friday December 17th 2021.

Keepers (i.e. those with equine premises registered with DAFM) must “record the total number of equines on their holding on census night. The Unique Equine Life Number (UELN), also known as the passport number, of each equine that has been identified with an identification document” is also required, as is the approximate date on which each animal moved to the premises.

Registered equine keepers were first written to at the end of August 2021, announcing the census would take place in November and were advised to register with agfood.ie , if not already registered with agfood,  to be prepared for the census. Census forms and letters started arriving with registered keepers on Monday November 28th and the remainder should have arrived by Tuesday November 30th.

How to register with agfood

Herdowners not already registered with agfood.ie should:

  • Click on the Register button on the agfood screen
  • Enter your details, including PPS number on the online form
  • Submit the form

You will then receive personal log-on details by post generally within 3-4 days of completing registration.

Already registered?

Those who are already registered can click on the Equine Census tile on the right of the same screen then enter username and password to access the census screens.

The paper census and other points to note

There is scope on the paper census form to indicate where equines are present on the holding but passports are yet to be issued. For example many breeders continue to await foal passports to be issued, or passports may be with the passport issuing authority for the purposes of name change, owner change or endorsement etc. Where passports are with DAFM themselves related to another scheme, i.e. Areas of Natural Constraint, then keepers are advised to await return of passports before submitting the census return as the system won’t accept a return without the UELN as this is the ultimate identification mechanism for an equine.

The date sought in the online entry is the approximate date the animal moved to the premises. When entering UELNs use the numerical digits only, without spaces or dashes.

The census is intended to “provide important information in the event of an equine disease outbreak, in addressing public health concerns and in dealing with lost, straying or stolen horses” and “forms part of a series of measures the Minister proposes to initiate to support the welfare of equidae.”

Bulk upload facility

“While the Department’s preferred mechanism for submission of census data remains online via agfood.ie, paper returns will also be accepted for census 2021. Furthermore, a bulk upload facility has also been developed in agfood.ie to facilitate keepers keeping large numbers of equines.” Those who require help with bulk upload should make contact with DAFM AIM Division directly by phone at 01-5058881 or by email to horseid@agriculture.gov.ie .Anyone experiencing difficulties should contact DAFM AIM Division.

Equine passports - legal requirement

It is a legal requirement for all equines to have a valid equine identification document (passport) recording specific identification details of the animal. It is an offence not to. The equine passport issuing authorities in Ireland can be found here. Keeping equines on a premises without registering that premises with the Department for that purpose also commits an offence. Those with existing herd numbers for other livestock should equally notify DAFM using the equine premises application form that they also keep equines. Find out more here