LivestockNews

Ireland’s Third Annual Equine Census Takes Place the 30th of November

The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Charlie McConalogue TD, has confirmed that Ireland’s third annual equine census will take place this Thursday night, 30th November 2023. Census forms will have started arriving at some 29,000 registered premises across the country from the beginning of this week.

Any person who keeps any equines (which include horses, ponies, donkeys, mules, and zebras) overnight on 30th November 2023 is required to submit a completed census return to the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine by Friday 15th December 2023. Submission of a 2023 equine census forms part of the eligibility criteria for TAMS III, where a minimum of 3 equines must be declared on the equine census on the year preceding application.

The Minister re-iterated the importance of the census process, stating that “the census will provide valuable information to the Department particularly in the area of disease prevention but also in addressing public health concerns and in dealing with lost, straying or stolen horses. Accurate information on the equine population will further facilitate more informed decision-making processes across the wider equine industry.”

He thanked the significant number of keepers who engaged with the 2021 and 2022 census processes and encouraged all keepers to continue to engage in 2023.

While paper census returns will be accepted by his Department, Minister McConalogue strongly encouraged keepers to submit their 2023 census information online through the dedicated secure Equine Census portal in the AIM Services tile, located on the on agfood.ie ‘home page’. The portal will accept 2023 equine census data from Friday 1st December.

McConalogue commented that “my Department has taken on board feedback received from keepers using the online system over the last two years and we have enhanced the system again in 2023 to further improve this year’s online experience.”

He added that, where 2022 data is recorded on his Department’s system, this will be available to keepers to use as a base for their 2023 return. This feature will ease the administrative burden of re-entering equine data for animals that are still present in the holding. The online portal also features a ‘Frequently Asked Questions’ section and a video has been added to the portal to assist keepers with large numbers of equines in notifying their data through a batch upload facility.

Keepers will be required to record the total number of equines present on their holding on census night. For those equines that ordinarily reside on the premises, the Unique Equine Life Number (UELN), also known as the passport number, of each equine that has been identified with an identification document (passport) will also be required, as will the approximate date on which each animal moved to the premises.

Where equines are present on a temporary basis (e.g. for training /competition /breeding purposes), the individual UELNs of these equines will not be required and only the total number of such animals present on the night is to be provided.

Minister McConalogue advised that the third annual equine census is required by the EU Animal Health Law (Regulation (EU) 2016/429), which requires that the Department records the details of the premises where all equines resident in the State are habitually kept. The census is designed to create an initial link between each equine kept in the State on census day and the premises on which 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 Animal Identification and Movement (AIM) system, which houses the central equine database.

Keepers should be aware that they are legally required to make a census return and those who do not return a completed census return commit an offence under S.I. 254 of 2023. In addition, they may not be eligible for TAMS III and other DAFM Schemes where equines are included in the livestock units kept on a holding.

The Minister advised that guidance on online submission of data for the third annual equine census has been included with the census forms issued by his Department. Anyone seeking assistance with submitting census data, either on paper or online, should contact the Department’s AIM Division by email to equinecensus2023@agriculture.gov.ie or by phone at 01-5058881.

The author: Ryan Harmon