This week over 45,000 sheep and goat farmers on the Department of Agriculture’s database will receive the Annual Sheep and Goat Census 2015.

Completing and returning the census is a legal obligation, the Department states.

As well as fulfilling this requirement, the yearly sheep and goat census is the record retained by the Department as to the number of sheep on each holding.

According to the Department, this information forms the basis of quantifying sheep numbers in each country on a particular date.

It is also central in declaring that required stocking rates have been maintained and facilitates the drawing down of payments under schemes such as the Basic Payment Scheme, Areas of Natural Constraints Scheme, AEOS, GLAS and so on, the Department states.

The information is also used during farm/flock inspections.

The inspector will have details of the census returns submitted for the holding in the last four or five years and the Department said that it will use this information as the basis for identifying if the animal records have been adequately maintained.

This year the Department has selected Sunday December 13, 2015 as the census date.

The onus remains with the flock owner to make sure that the completed census forms reach the Department by closing date of January 29, 2016.

The Department states that it should be noted that the only acceptable proof of postage is a Registered or Express post receipt.

A postal certificate is no longer acceptable as proof of postage, it states.

All forms must be returned to Sheep/Goat Census Unit, Direct Payments Division, Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Agriculture House 6E, Kildare Street, Dublin 2.

Registered Online Users will also have the option to submit forms online at