File Photo

EI Shipping Lockdown Starts to Ease

Australian sale yearlings ship with tight restrictions from NSW to Victoria.

It’s only a trickle, but the wounded Australian Thoroughbred industry is hoping by January the floodgates will open.

On Dec. 18, almost four months to the day since an equine influenza outbreak caused a shut-down of all horse travel in both Queensland and New South Wales, interstate movement has started — although with massive restrictions.

NSW Minister for Primary Industries Ian Macdonald declared: "Today marks another major milestone in our battle against EI and our efforts to get the state’s horse industries back on its feet.

The horses — mostly yearlings entered in the Inglis Melbourne Premier Yearling sale — will be transported by truck from a William Inglis & Son quarantine facility at Newmarket (in Sydney) to a quarantine facility in Victoria, arriving early Tuesday morning. This is the first legal movement of horses into Victoria since the outbreak and more will follow, not only Thoroughbreds but horses from other equine disciplines. We will continue to work closely with the entire horse industry including the leisure, equestrian and racing sectors, to ensure things get back to normal as quickly as possible. This group of 66 horses is the first to meet tough new inter-state travel biosecurity protocols. Their movement is in line with policies from the national consultative committee on exotic animal diseases and is consistent with the national campaign to control and eradicate EI.

"Each has previously been infected by horse flu, developed full immunity to the disease and has made a successful recovery back to full health," Macdonald said. "There are strict nationally-agreed-to protocols for horse movements from NSW to Victoria, which these animals have met."

According to the sale company, the remaining yearlings in NSW and Queensland that have been accepted for the Melbourne sale will begin their quarantine at Newmarket on February 19 before heading to Oaklands for the sale, which starts March 2.

In short, this means that each horse: has been tested at a NSW DPI laboratory to confirm they don’t have the disease; is from a property now scientifically proven EI-free through resolution testing; and has returned blood tests with strong antibodies, showing immunity exists. In addition, each truck will be decontaminated twice in Sydney before the horses are loaded. Macdonald added that "as an extra measure, the animals have been under tight quarantine in NSW and will be placed under quarantine at Oaklands in Victoria when they arrive (in Melbourne), before being sold."