Over 43,000 flock owners, registered as keepers of sheep and goats on the Department of Agriculture, Food and Marine’s database, will this week receive the Sheep and Goat Census 2014.
Completing and returning the census is a legal obligation. As well as fulfilling this requirement, the yearly sheep and goat census is the record retained by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, as to the number of sheep on each holding.
This information forms the basis of quantifying sheep numbers in the country on a particular date.
More importantly, for flock owners, 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 Single Payment Scheme, Disadvantaged Area Scheme, REPS, AEOS and the Grassland Sheep Scheme.
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 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 14, 2014 as the census date. The onus remains with the flock owner to make sure that the completed census forms reach the Department on time.
The Department says that the only acceptable proof of postage is Registered or Express post receipts and all forms must be returned to Government Buildings, Portlaoise, Co Laois.
A postal certificate is no longer acceptable as proof of postage. Flock owners are also advised of the option to submit forms online.