Codes of Practice on Animal Welfare

The Minister for Agriculture may establish or adopt a code of practice, (published by others), for the purpose of giving practical guidance on the legislation. A code of practice may amongst other things provide for

  • care of animals,
  • good governance and operation of persons concerned with animal welfare,
  • cruelty prevention,
  • provision of sanctuary for animals,
  • biosecurity measures,
  • breeding and rearing of animals,
  • provision of food and liquid for animals,
  • provision of housing and shelter for animals,
  • allowing animals to exhibit their natural and normal behaviour,
  • safeguarding animals from environmental hazards.

The code of practice may be published electronically or in print form.  It may be amended.

A person having possession or control of a particular animal shall have due regard to a  code of practice published by the Minister in relation to an animal of that class or description. In proceedings for an offence, the contents of the code of practice is relevant.

Regulations on Animal Welfare

Regulations in relation to animal health and welfare may deal with a wide variety of matters.  This chapter concerns animal health and welfare.  A separate chapter deals with animal disease which is formerly the subject of separate legislation.

Regulations in respect of animal health and welfare include the following:

  • provisions for proper husbandry and management of animals, for proper farming purposes,
  • provision for appropriate welfare standards for animals at all stages of their lives, including the sale, transport and in the case of farm animals, lairaging and at slaughter.
  • provision for proper supply of food and liquid.
  • provisions for adequate space for movement, exercise, socialisation and other needs.
  • provision for maintenance, specifications and equipment of containment in relation to animals, including dimensions and layout of housing, materials for constructing housing, lighting, heating, cooling and ventilation of housing.
  • operation, management and supervision of land or premises on which an animal is kept
  • standards and maintenance of land or premises,
  • provision of drainage, water supply or other facilities for animals including sanitation of land and premises where an animal is kept or otherwise used.
  • protection of animals from adverse weather or other environmental conditions.
  • provisions for the identification of animals whether by tags, microchips, documents,
  • genetic or electronic means, or otherwise, including provisions for notification of births, deaths, sales, and movements.
  • manufacture, import, distribution, sale, possession, control of means of identification of an animal.

provision for the prohibition of tampering with, forgery, alteration of animal identification.

Matters Covered

Regulations may provide for

  • the destruction, burial, disposal of animals,
  • animal product, feed, litter or other things used in connection with them.
  • the examination, taking of sampling, carrying out of tests and analyses of animal products, feeds, vessels, litter, vehicles, containers, equipment, machinery and other thing connected with animals,
  • maintenance and repair of boundary fences, walls or structures.
  • biosecurity methods including personal protective equipment, cleaning, disinfecting of clothing, equipment, machinery, land and premises.

Regulations for Transport

Regulations may be made in relation to the transport or movement of animals.  The regulations may prohibit or regulate transport, movement of animals, animal products or feed, and other ancillary matters. They may provide for the transportation of animals, animal product or animal feeds, vehicles or vessels used in connection with this, including the standards for such equipment, vessel, vehicles, containers etc.

They may make provisions for care, feeding, watering and rest periods. They may provide information to accompany the animal while in transport including provisions for the information is to be provided.

The import or export of animals, animal products, feed, litter, transport vehicles etc. may be regulated or prohibited including.   Provisions may require notices to be given prior to the import or export, place of departure from or into the State, documentation to accompany the same.

Regulations for Breeding

Activities in relation to animals may be regulated including,

  • keeping, breeding, rearing of animals in such manner as to avoid unnecessary suffering
  • breeding of animals to protect or enhance their health and welfare including their possession or sale,
  • use of their semen, ova, eggs, embryos and foetuses.

Regulations for General Welfare

Regulations may provide for

  • the possession, purchase, movement, sale or supply of animals, animal products, litters, bedding, farm machinery or farm equipment.
  • regulation of land or premises on which animals, are kept or sold or supplied or where animals are shown, compete or used in connection with a sporting or cultural activity.
  • regulation on prohibiting gathering of animals or persons at sporting events in the interests of animal welfare to prevent the spread or eradication of disease
  • regulation or prohibition of the killing of animals, including the method and manner of such killing by specified persons trained for that purpose.

Provision may be made to regulate or prohibit the possession, acquisition, sale, supply, transport or movement of farm animals, including horned animals, which, in the opinion of the Minister, constitute a danger to other animals or human beings.

Operations & Procedures

Regulations may be made for the prohibition of operations and procedures in relation to animals including

  • docking of the tails,
  • use of anaesthetics or analgesics during operations and procedures,
  • prophylactic and therapeutic treatment of animals with animal remedies,
  • regulation of laboratories used to examine, test and analyse samples,
  • regulation and prohibition of the use of vaccines in the interest of animal health.


Regulations may provide for controls either generally or in a particular area in respect of the animal population for the purposes of promoting, maintaining and improving animal health and welfare.  This may include programs for

  • identification including microchipping, neutering, spaying or humane destruction of animals.   prohibition of the sale and supply of an animal unless identified neutered or spayed
  • identification including micro-chipping, neutering or spaying an animal detained under any provision prior to return or supply.
  • provision of sufficient security by a person to identify, neuter or spay an animal.

Scope of Regulation and Breach

Animal health regulations may relate to part of the State or the whole of the State.  This may include disease eradication areas.  It may apply to animals, animal products or animals feed generally or a particular type or class of the same.  It may apply to diseases or particular classes of diseases.  It may apply to land, vehicles, vessels, aircraft, machinery or a particular class of the same.

Contravention of the regulations is an offence subject on summary conviction to a Class A fine or up to six months imprisonment or both.  On conviction on indictment a person may be fined up to €250,000- or five years imprisonment or both.


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Draft Articles; The articles on this website are in draft form and are subject to further review for typographical errors and, in some cases, updating and correction. It is intended to include references to the sources of materials and acknowledgements in the final version. The content of articles with [EU] in the title and some of the articles in the section on Agriculture are a reproduction of or are based on European or Irish public sector information.

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