Donkeys, horses, goats and deer are currently eligible for inclusion when calculating stocking density, according to the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, but he may re-examine this in the coming months. 

However, Minister Simon Coveney was answering questions in the Dail recently and was asked by Fine Gael TD Brendan Griffin whether the use of donkeys in calculations for stocking density for the disadvantaged area scheme is not encouraging active farming.

The Minister said that eligibility under the Disadvantaged Areas Scheme required that applicants, among other obligations, satisfy the minimum stocking density requirements. That includes that holdings must meet an average stocking density of 0.15 livestock units per forage hectare for seven consecutive months and maintain an annual average of 0.15 livestock units per forage hectare calculated over the 12 months of the Scheme year.

A variety of livestock are eligible for inclusion in the stocking density calculation, including cattle, sheep, horses, goats and deer, in addition to donkeys.

“However, with the advent of the new Rural Development Programme, due to be adopted later this year, the time may be opportune to examine a number of elements of the Scheme. Any such changes will come into effect from the following Scheme-year, 2015.”