Register equine premises by May 1 or fall foul of new laws

Caitriona Murphy

From May 1, it will be illegal to keep horses on premises which are not registered with the Department of Agriculture.

The aim of the horse premises register is to have a complete database of where horses are located in Ireland, in the event of a contagious disease outbreak.

Below are some frequently asked questions regarding the new law.

What are equine premises?

This means any premises (with or without land) on which a horse, ass, mule or pony is kept permanently, such as a farm, or on a temporary basis, such as show site, veterinary clinic, farrier's yard or sales venue.

What is the purpose of registration?

The reason for registering and record keeping is to allow the Department to have information on the location of horses and their contacts with other horses so that, in the event of an outbreak of disease, owners can be alerted and advised of any necessary precautions. A disease outbreak such as equine infectious anaemia in the national equine herd could have a catastrophic effect on the national equine industry. By registering, you are making a contribution to protecting the national equine herd.

Who must register?

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Anyone who owns or has charge of an equine premises, regardless of whether he or she owns the equines.

What are the consequences if I decide not to register?

From May 1, it will be against the law to keep a horse or other equine on a premises that are not registered with the Department.

What responsibilities does a registered person have?

Registered persons must keep records of the equines on the premises and the movement of equines off and on to the premises.

The scale of record keeping will depend on the nature of the business at the premises. For example, owners of premises where a pet pony is kept will simply have to keep a record of the pony. Thereafter, any births, purchases, sales and deaths or other permanent movements off or onto the premises will need to be recorded.

People in charge of stud farms, shows, sales and other premises where animals are temporarily held will have to keep records of the dates of movement on and off the premises and the UEL (unique equine label) of the horse involved. The premises' registration number, owner name and address of the horse's premises of origin or destination will also need to be recorded. It is already common practice on these types of premises to keep this kind of information.

There will also be a requirement to provide information to the Department by way of a census of animals carried out from time to time. As soon as a premises is registered, it will be given a registration number and information as to what type of records are needed.

My horses all have microchips and horse passports. Is this enough?

No. They are separate methods of registration. The horse passport regime is an animal identification system, rather than a movement system. Premises registration concerns the location at which equines are kept and records in respect of horses on those premises.

I was registered with an equine herd previously. Do I have to make a new application?

The Department will write to all previously registered equine herd owners before May 1 and enclose an application form and details of any new requirements that may affect them.

I have a bovine herd number, will I get a different herd number for horses?

No, unless the nominated equine keeper is different from the person who is registered as keeper for the bovine herd, in which case, a new herd number will be issued in respect of the equines.

In all cases, you should complete the application form indicating that you are already registered with a bovine herd number and indicate the number, relevant keeper, and purpose for which you keep horses.

If the nominated keeper is the same as for the existing bovine herd, your herd registration will be updated to include equines.

Where can I get a registration form?

Application forms can be obtained from the Department's regional offices, from the Department's Animal Health Division on 01 6072466, or from the Department's website at www.agriculture.gov.ie

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