The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine will undertake its first annual equine census in November 2021.
The DAFM requires any person who keeps any equines in the state to submit a completed census return within a specified timeline.
The census will provide important information:
- In the event of an equine disease outbreak;
- Addressing public health concerns;
- Dealing with lost, straying or stolen horses.
According to the department, equine animals include horses, ponies, donkeys, mules, asses and zebras.
Minister McConalogue said: “The undertaking of this first equine census in November 2021 is one of a series of measures I propose to initiate to support the welfare of equidae and is one of my department’s listed priorities for 2021.”
“It is also in keeping with my commitment to review and enhance the equine identification and traceability system with a view to better supporting equine welfare, as set out in Ireland’s Welfare Strategy 2021 – 2025, published by my department following consultation with stakeholders.”
Habitual residence of every equine
The census will also facilitate compliance with the new EU Animal Health Law (Regulation (EU) 2016/429).
It requires that the habitual residence of every equine in the state is recorded on the central equine database. This is generally the premises at which an equine resides for a period of more than 30 days.
The census aims to create an initial link between each equine kept in the state on census day and the premises where it is kept at that time.
A profile of all equines present on a holding on that date will be created on the department’s AIM system, which houses the central equine database.
The DAFM expects the formal linking of equines to their keepers will increase compliance with equine legislation. This law places responsibility on the recorded keeper for ensuring the health and welfare of all animals in his/her care.
In a statement, the DAFM said: “Anyone keeping any equines on a premises that is not registered with the department for that purpose commits an offence.”
Valid passports and registered premises
Minister McConalogue thanked equine keepers for their compliance with equine legislation to date. In doing so, he expressed confidence that they will “similarly engage positively” with the new system.
He called on them to check their records now and to regularise any issues that might arise immediately.
In this regard, all premises where equines are kept must be registered with DAFM for that purpose. All equine keepers are responsible for ensuring that any equines in their care have a valid passport.
How to submit equine census information
Equine keepers must submit equine census details online via agfood.ie.
Keepers who do not already have an agfood.ie account must register to obtain personal login details to submit their census information.
People should do this in advance of November by logging on and choosing the option to ‘register’.
The department has written to all registered keepers, making them aware of the upcoming census. Furthermore, it will contact equine keepers again later in the year.