From 2020, only 50% of the stocking density requirement can be fulfilled using donkeys, in the Areas of Natural Constraints (ANC) scheme.
Applicants will be required to use other livestock to fulfil the other 50% requirement.
“This change to the 2020 ANC scheme has been introduced on the basis of stakeholder consultation and animal welfare considerations,” said Agriculture Minister Michael Creed.
To qualify for ANC payments, eligible applicants need at least 0.15 livestock units per eligible forage hectare for a retention period of seven months, and to maintain an annual average of 0.15 livestock units calculated over the scheme year.
Cattle, sheep, goats, donkeys, or deer, can be used to satisfy the stocking rate requirement. In recent years, about 900 applicants used about 2,200 donkeys to claim ANC payments. A total of 2,878 donkeys were used to claim the payments in 2016.
A donkey is equivalent to one livestock unit per hectare.
Terms and conditions for the 2019 scheme point out the 2020 change, confirmed by Minister Creed in the Dail in response to a question from Galway West Fianna Fail TD Éamon Ó Cuív.