Reminder: Time to count your sheep for the 2018 census

According to the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM) some 45,000 registered sheep and goat keepers received their Annual Sheep and/or Goat Census 2018 forms in early December.

The census date is today (Monday), December 31, and the closing date for receipt of completed census forms by post is Thursday, January 31, 2019.

The census returns may also be submitted online via, in which case the closing date is extended to Thursday, February 14, 2019.

A statement from the department explained that while the census returns can be made by post, it should be noted that in the event of a dispute, the only acceptable proof of postage is a Registered Post receipt.

The return of census details is a legal requirement.

The online system provides confirmation when a census submission has been completed successfully.

Farmers not already registered for online services can do so by logging onto and clicking the option to register.

As new log-in details are issued by post, farmers should allow sufficient time in advance of the closing date to receive their log-in details.

According to the department, late submission of 2018 details may have implications for eligibility to certain schemes.

Submission of a completed census is central in declaring that required stocking rates are being maintained and facilitates the drawing down of payments under schemes.

Failure to return the census on time may have an impact on future-related scheme payments.

2017 sheep census

The results from the 2017 sheep census showed that the total number of sheep in Ireland at the time of completion was 3,874,898.

Some 1,347,515 sheep are located across Donegal, Galway and Mayo, equating to 35% of the national sheep population

In addition, almost 65% of the sheep in the country are contained in flocks with less than 100 ewes. While flocks ranging from 101 to 150 ewes and 150 to 500 ewes accounted for almost 13% and 19% of the population, respectively.