The deadline for return of sheep and goat census forms has been extended to Monday, February 14, Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Charlie McConalogue has announced.

The extension follows a delay in receipt of census forms experienced by some farmers. The final date for postal returns now matches the date for online submissions.

Over 48,000 sheep and goat farmers who are registered with the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM) are legally required to complete their census forms. Failure to return them on time could impact on eligibility for certain DAFM schemes. 

Farmers can submit their forms online via, where a successful submission is automatically confirmed. Here, the census history can be viewed, and no costs are associated with online submission.

Farmers who are submitting the forms by post must ensure that they reach the DAFM by the deadline. In the event of postal disruptions, a registered post receipt must be provided.

The minister thanked farmers for their ongoing engagement with the census process, where response rates of some 90% are, generally, achieved.

Census use

Submitted censuses provide valuable statistical information to the department and other industry organisations.

For individual farmers, submission of a completed census is central in declaring that required stocking rates are being maintained.

Census information also facilitates the drawing down of payments under schemes such as the Sheep Welfare Scheme; the Basic Payment Scheme; the Areas of Natural Constraints Scheme; the Agri-Environment Options Scheme; and the Green, Low-Carbon, Agri-Environment Scheme, for example.

Census information is also used during inspections of the herd or farm.

Online registration

Farmers who are not already registered can do so by logging on to and clicking the option to ‘register’.

Those using online services for the first time must allow sufficient time for their personal log-on details to be sent to them by post after they register.

A step-by-step guide to completing the census online is provided on the back of the 2021 census form.