A person who has in his or her possession or under his control a domestic or farm animal must take all necessary measures to ensure the animal is regularly inspected.  In the case of an animal being kept in an intensive unit, this must be not less than once a day.  The person must thoroughly inspect the animal’s condition and state of health and cause the condition and state of health to be so inspected.

Where automatic or other technical equipment is used in the unit it must be checked to vouch that it is free from defects, either by the person concerned or by a competent person.

Where an animal is not kept in an intensive unit, it must be inspected at intervals sufficient to avoid the animal being caused injury or unnecessary suffering, as condition and state of health must be inspected.  Where an animal is not kept in an intensive unit, the animal must be inspected at intervals to avoid it being caused injury or unnecessary suffering.  Conditions of state and health must be inspected.

Steps Required

Where a protected animal is found not in a state of well-being, the person in possession or control must take all necessary measures to prevent injury, or the animal being caused injury or unnecessary suffering including seeking treatment from a veterinary practitioner or other appropriate people.

Where a defect in an intensive unit is discovered, the owner or person in charge must immediately remedy it, or if it is impracticable, take immediate steps to safeguard the welfare of the animal in the unit.

Where an inspection shows that an animal is not in a state of well-being or a defect above is discovered, it is a defence to show the person was unaware and that inspection had been carried out and that in the circumstances of him being so aware was not unreasonable.

Breach of the above obligations is an offence.  The owner of the animals may be liable even if he is not in possession or control of it unless he took all reasonable steps to ensure the obligation was complied with.

Intensive Units

An intensive unit is a premises in which animals are kept under a husbandry system relying, for the purpose of providing care on automatic equipment to such an extent that a failure of that equipment if not rectified or some alternative arrangements being made would cause the animals unnecessary suffering.

In case of an intensive unit, records must be kept of the inspections including dates and times, name of the person carrying out the inspection, condition of the animals, particulars of defects, particulars of steps to remedy and such other matters as may be required by regulations.

The relevant records must be retained for three years.  They must be produced on request by an authorised officer.  The records may be kept in electronic form.  Failure to keep requisite records is an offence.

Animal Accommodation

A person who has an animal in his possession for sale or supply must ensure that the animal is kept in accommodation suitable as regards size, temperature, lighting, ventilation and the cleanliness of the accommodation.  He must ensure that the animal is supplied with and has ready access to a sufficient supply of food and drink in accordance with the above obligations.

He must ensure the animal is not sold or supplied, having regard to its age, nature, type, breed, degree of development, adaptation, behavioural needs in accordance with established scientific knowledge and experience, where the sale or supply of an animal at that age is likely to cause unavoidable or unnecessary suffering to the animal.

He must take all reasonable precautions to prevent the spread of disease or a disease agent amongst the animals. He must ensure the animal is safeguarded against fire, environmental and other hazards.

Underage Persons

A person shall not sell an animal to a person who is apparently under the age of 16 years.  He shall not give an animal as a prize to a person apparently under this age unless the person is accompanied by a person of full age who will take possession and control of the animal.

A person of full age who has actual care and control of the person under 16 and the apparent owner or person in possession of a particular animal is deemed to be owner possessor or the person in control of the protected animal.

Killing Protected Animals

A person may not kill a protected animal or cause or allow another to do so unless the person is competent to do so in accordance with animal health and welfare regulations and does so in a manner that inflicts as little suffering as possible in the circumstances.

The provision does not prohibit the occasional killing by or on behalf of an owner of an individual protected animal if it is to prevent unnecessary, avoidable or excessive suffering to the animal.

If an authorised officer, or veterinary practitioner or another specified person under regulations is of the opinion that an

  • the animal is fatally injured, is severely injured or diseased or
  • in such pain or distress, for the alleviation of suffering that it should be killed, or
  • to prevent further suffering to an animal, it is necessary or expedient, or
  • the animal is a danger to life or property,

he or she may, without seeking the consent of the owner or person in control, kill the animal or cause the animal to be killed or destroyed in such a manner as to inflict as little suffering as possible in the circumstances.  He may dispose of the carcass or cause its destruction or disposal.


An authorised officer or another authorised person may not do the above unless he has consulted with or made a reasonable attempt in the circumstances to consult a veterinary practitioner.

If an authorised officer seizes and detains an animal, in the course of his duties, he may if he considers reasonable to do so, kill the animal or cause it to be killed in such manner as to inflict as little suffering as possible in the circumstances and may destroy and dispose of the carcass.

In forming the opinion an authorised officer may, have regard to considerations including veterinary or other reputable opinion or advice which may be of general application or, in a particular instance, be obtained remotely, or a code of practice. Contravention of the above obligation is an offence.

Steps to Protect Welfare

If an authorised officer has reasonable grounds for believing a protected animal is injured or suffering or is in a state of acute neglect or distress, the officer may arrange or take steps as are necessary to alleviate the animal’s suffering.  This may include requiring the person who owns or controls the animal to obtain the necessary veterinary attention, provide appropriate shelter, food or drinking water or seizing or detaining the animal and its offspring.

Where an animal is seized or detained for this purpose, it may be removed to a place of safety, or such other place as the officer thinks fit.  Where the power is exercised without the knowledge of the person responsible for the animal, the officer must, as soon as reasonably practicable, take steps as are reasonable in the circumstances to bring the exercise of the power to that person’s notice.

The costs of the above may be recovered by the authorised officer or the local authority or by the deduction of sums due to that person from the Department of Agriculture.

The recovery by a local authority or the Departments of costs must be preceded by a notice setting out the costs and giving the person from whom they are proposed to be claimed, an opportunity to make representations.  These representations must be considered and a decision made prior to the institution of the measure.


S. I. No. 225 of 2014 Prohibition on Tail Docking (Bovines) (No. 2) Regulations 2014 continue the existing ban on non-medical tail docking of cattle and replaces S. I. No. 263 of 2003.

Welfare of Farmed Animals, including Laying Hens, Calves, Pigs and Animals being slaughtered

S. I. No. 311 of 2010 EC Communities (Welfare of farmed animals) Regulations 2010 give effect to a series of European Directives concerning the protection of animals including broilers, laying hens, calves and pigs.

S. I. No. 292 of 2013 on the European Union (protection of animals at the time of killing) Regulations 2013 give effect to Council Regulations (EC) No. 1099/2009 on the protection of animals at time of killing.


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