BREEDERS can still take their broodmares to stallion farms in Ireland for covering in accordance with the latest restrictions on movement announced on Friday night by the Taoiseach.
In his address to the nation, the Taoiseach outlined a number of new measures designed to slow down the spread of Covid-19. “From midnight tonight, for a two-week period until Easter Sunday, April 12th, everybody must stay at home in all circumstances,” he said.
He cited six exemptions to the new law, one being “for farming purposes, that is food production and the care of animals.” Those working with racehorses and breeding stock are covered by the phrase "care of animals".
Over the weekend the Department of Agriculture confirmed that this exemption covered “farmers, farm labourers, farm relief service workers, and others involved directly or indirectly in crop and animal production and related activities (including veterinary services) and workers involved in fishing.”
Replying to a query from The Irish Field, a Department spokesperson said: "Currently, there is no prohibition on the movement of animals within the country, noting that farming is identified as an essential service. Any and all activities within farming and society generally, however, need to comply with HSE public health advice and guidelines."
However, the Department spokesperson did highlight a problem with sending horses abroad. "The provision of export certification services for horses and pets cannot be considered an essential service in the context of the current public health challenge. On this basis, the Department advised equine industry stakeholders on Saturday 28th that it was suspending applications for such certification until 12th April. The matter will be kept under review."
The Irish Thoroughbred Breeders’ Association is confident that breeders taking mares to stallion farms are covered by the reference to “animal production”. It has also been confirmed that horse owners can continue to travel to collect horse feed, bedding and other products needed for the care of horses and for any veterinary visits.
Garda Commissioner Drew Harris said "essential workers" should carry identification and/or a letter from their employer in case they are stopped by gardai on their way to and from work.
On Sunday the ITBA issued the following advice to breeders:
“While breeding practices can continue, in order comply with the latest Government’s response to Covid-19, we would like you to note and adhere to the following;
• When transporting your mare to stud / boarding farm breeders should make sure they have one official form of picture identification with them and if an employee, have a letter from your employer indicating that you are an essential employee.
• Ensure you have the mare’s passport and any documentation provided by the stud farm.
• You should make direct contact with the stud farm prior to departure, familiarise yourself with their protocols and ask for confirmation of your covering time to be sent to your phone. In the unlikely event you are stopped by the authorities, inform them that you are carrying out a permitted farming activity.
• There should be no unauthorised stops on route from your farm to the stud farm”.
• Below is a template for an employers’ letter, which should be made available to all employees. This needs to be printed on headed note paper of the employer stud farm and signed by the owner / manager of that stud farm.
In the best interest of you, your employee and your mare please ensure all required paperwork / documentation is in order before commencing the journey.”
TEMPLATE LETTER FOR EMPLOYEE TRANSPORTING MARES AND FOALS
To whom it may concern,
(Employee name) is employed by (Stud name) and is required as such to carry out work in the essential area or farming, agriculture and the care of animals.
SEE THEIRISHFIELD.IE MORE INFORMATION ON HOW COVID-19 IS AFFECTING THE RACING & BLOODSTOCK INDUSTRY