Herd Number Application Straightforward, But Don’t Leave It Until The Last Minute

Even for snail farming, you need a herd number.

Applying for a herd number is an important task for many farmers at this time of year, ahead of the May 17 application deadline for the Basic Farm Payment Scheme.

Some herd number applicants are looking to start farming, some with herd numbers want to change the name or add a name to the herd number, some will need to transfer entitlements, others are applying for the Young Farmer’s Scheme, says Andy Ryder, drystock adviser, Teagasc Westport.

He emphasises the importance of planning in advance and not leaving herd number changes until the last minute.

A herd number is an administrative device, issued by the Department of Agriculture for the purposes of disease control.

A herd number, however, does not infer ownership of lands, ownership of any animals tested or kept under that herd number, or entitlement to payments under any schemes operated by the department.

Each herd number applicant has to fill out two forms to be submitted with land ownership or lease agreements, and a farm inspection usually occurs.

Where an application is received to transfer a herd number upon the death of a herdowner, Department officials may request such information as may reasonably be required to complete the transfer, such as proof that the applicant is entitled to use the lands to which the herd number refers (a folio, deed of transfer, a valid lease, a rental agreement, grant of probate, letters of administration etc).

In some circumstances, a redacted copy of a will may suffice. Where there is a dispute, an unredacted copy may be required.

In cases where a grant of probate has been obtained, a copy of the grant, which is a public document, will be requested.

This process is compliant with GDPR legislation.

Amendments to a herd number must be requested in writing to the relevant regional veterinary office.

Where more than one person has an interest in the herd, there is a standardised process in place for registering the interests of other persons, companies, or institutions in the role of herdowner.

The ER1.1 form is used for this purpose, it can be downloaded from the www.gov.ie website.

If there is more than one person named as a herdowner, then the appropriate request to change details must be signed by all relevant parties.

Where herd numbers have been amended to include a second name, a declaration of undertaking must be signed by both participants, in order to ensure compliance by both participants with the requirements of various Department of Agriculture schemes.

Strangely enough, even snail farming requires a herd number for your holding (land used for farming) from the department.

Complex though some aspects of herd numbers can be, Andy Ryder of Teagasc advises that the application process is simple.

Each applicant has to fill out two forms called ER1 and ER1.1. These are then submitted along with ownership or lease agreements of the land that each applicant is going to farm.

Usually, a farm inspection occurs after the application is processed, to assess the farm and the housing and handling facilities.

The process takes time, with some applications taking longer than normal to get approved because most Department of Agriculture staff, similar to most workers, are working remotely during the Covid-19 lockdown.

Ensure that sufficient time is allowed.

Any first-time entrants need to get their housing, handling and possibly their boundary fencing up to standard before applying.

The majority of farmers who are applying for a herd number will also be applying for the Basic Farm Payment Scheme.

It will help the application process if the herd number is in place, enabling all applications to be completed correctly and on time.

Existing GLAS applicants must notify the GLAS section and look for approval, prior to any change in herd number applicant details.

Failure to do this could result in termination of the scheme. This is very simple to do, but is often overlooked, and could be a very costly mistake.

Due to the additional checks to be carried out on new applicants, payments may be delayed if the information required is not fully submitted, such as proof of right to claim land, insufficient stock, bank account details. This delay can put a strain on cashflow on the farm.

ANC Scheme

To comply with this scheme, an annual stocking rate of 0.15 LU per hectare must be achieved. The later in the year that the herd number has been applied for, the more stock that will need to be moved in to the herd.

Herd number applicants who do not move stock in on time, once they receive the herd number, may fail to qualify for the ANC payment.


In some cases, forestry payments to forestry owners were stopped, where the herd number has been transferred to another person, without transferring the forestry. Seek advice before changing the herd number.

Purchasing Stock

Have a plan in place for how you are going to source animals, the type required and the numbers required. Spring and early summer are expensive times to buy animals. If you are looking to breed these animals, look to source them from herds or flocks with good health status if possible.

This is only the start of the journey for potential new farmers; get as much information and advice as possible, says Andy Ryder.

“There are plenty of advisors with years of experience available to point you in the right direction.”

(Source – Irish Examiner – Farming – Stephen Cadogan – 12/03/2021)

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