A herd number is an administrative device issued for the purposes of disease control – and can allow more than one person to have an interest in the herd, according to Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Charlie McConalogue.

In response to a question on the matter from independent Galway East TD Seán Canney as to whether he would “consider changing the criteria to become eligible to allow nieces, nephews, brothers-in-law and sisters-in-law to use a herd number”, the minister said:

“A herd number is an administrative device, issued by my department for the purposes of disease control.

“A herd number, therefore, does not imply ownership of lands, ownership of any animals tested or kept under that herd number or entitlement to payments under any schemes operated by the department.

The minister highlighted that there are two roles associated with herd numbers – a “herdowner” and a “herdkeeper” – adding:

“Under existing criteria, it is possible for more than one person to have an interest in the herd such as spouses, nieces, nephews, brothers-in-law, sisters-in-law etc.

“There is already a standardised process in place for registering the interests of more than other persons, companies or institutions in the role of herdowner.

“Amendments to a herd number must be requested in writing to the relevant Regional Veterinary Office. If there is more than one person named as a herdowner, then the appropriate request to change details must be signed by all relevant parties.

The role of herdkeeper can only be assigned to one natural person over the age of 18, Minister McConalogue added.

“Regardless of ownership, the herdkeeper is responsible for the day-to-day care and welfare of the herd,” the minister concluded.