Just days remain to complete Ireland’s first equine census

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Horses pulling wagons in the Gap of Dunloe area in County Kerry. Image by Christian_Birkholz

Ireland’s owners of horses, donkeys, asses and mules have just days remaining to file their returns in the country’s first equine census.

Any person who kept any such animal overnight on November 30 is required to submit a completed census return to the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine by Friday this week.

They must record the total number present on their property 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 will also be required, as will the approximate date on which each animal moved to the premises.

Agriculture Minister Charlie McConalogue stressed the importance of the count. “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,” he said.

The undertaking of this inaugural equine census, which will be held annually, was one of the department’s listed priorities for 2021.

It is designed to create an initial link between each equine kept in Ireland on census day and the premises on which it is kept at that time. A profile of all equines present on a property on that date will be created on the department’s Animal Identification and Movement 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 keeper for ensuring the health and welfare of all animals in his or her care.

While the Department’s preferred mechanism for submission of census data remains online via its agfood website, paper returns are also being accepted.

A bulk upload facility has also been developed on the website to help those with large numbers of equines.

Keepers are legally required to ensure that all equines in their care are properly identified with a passport. Failure to do so is an offence.

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