The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Charlie McConalogue T.D. has announced that his Department will undertake the first annual equine census at the end-November 2021. Any person who keeps any equines in the State will be required to submit a completed census return within a specified timeline.
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.”
The census will also facilitate compliance with new EU Animal Health Law (Regulation (EU) 2016/429), which came into force in April 2021 and which requires that the habitual residence of every equine kept 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 is designed 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 Animal Identification and Movement (AIM) system, which houses the central equine database. It is expected that the formal linking of equines to their keepers will increase compliance with equine legislation which places responsibility on the recorded keeper for ensuring the health and welfare of all animals in their care.
Minister McConalogue thanked equine keepers for their compliance with equine legislation to-date and 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 as soon as possible. In this regard, all premises where equines are kept must be registered with DAFM for that purpose and all equine keepers are responsible for ensuring that any equines in their care are properly identified with a valid passport.
The census will 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.
Equine census details will be submitted online by equine keepers via agfood.ie.
Keepers who do not already have an agfood.ie account must register at www.agfood.ie to obtain personal login details to submit their census information. This should be done in advance of November by logging on to www.agfood.ie and choosing the option to ‘Register’.
The Department has written to all registered keepers making them aware of the upcoming census and will contact equine keepers again later in the year, confirming the date of the 2021 census. At that time, a ‘Step-by-Step’ guide to completing and submitting the census data online via agfood.ie will be provided.