Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Charlie McConalogue, confirmed at the start of this week that Tuesday 30 November is the date that has been selected for Ireland’s first equine census. The census will now become an annual event.

The Department states that any person who keeps any equine animal, which include horses, ponies, donkeys, asses or mules, overnight on 30 November 2021 will be required to submit a completed census return to the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine by Friday 17 December 2021.

Keepers were required to record the total number of equines present 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 will also be required, as will the approximate date that each animal moved to the premises.

Census returns

The Department has written to keepers of all registered equine premises.

There are hardcopy census forms included with this documentation, which keepers should have received on 29 November, but the preferred mechanism for submitting census data is highlighted as via

The Department explains that a bulk upload facility has also been developed in to facilitate keepers with large numbers of equines.

Minister McConalogue said: “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.

“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.

“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/her care.”

Legal requirement

Keepers of equines are legally required to ensure that all equines in their care are properly identified with a passport. Failure to do so is an offence, as is failure to register a premises which maintains equines with the Department.

Equine passports are issued by DAFM-approved Passport Issuing Organisations (PIOs).

A list of approved PIOs is available on the Department’s website here. Applications to register a premises should be carried out with your local Department Regional Office. Anyone seeking assistance should contact the Department’s AIM Division by phone at 01–505 8881 or by email to