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NEWS: Breeders free to take mares to stallion farms under restrictions
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NEWS: Breeders free to take mares to stallion farms under restrictions
on 03 April 2020
Transporting mares to be covered is classified as 'animal production' and therefore still permitted

BREEDERS can still take their broodmares to stallion farms in Ireland for covering in accordance with the latest restrictions on movement announced last weekend 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.”

Animal production

The Irish Thoroughbred Breeders’ Association is also reassuring breeders that taking mares to stallion farms is 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.”
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