Brady fights to rebuild after Hendra
HIS experience with Hendra virus cost him a fortune, made him ill and just about broke his spirit.
But yesterday John Brady said he and his wife Christine had told their staff they would try to rebuild their equine nursery business at Cawarral.
“We're going to try to trade our way out of the mire,” said John.
“It will be difficult to build the business back up, but we have decided to stay open and salvage all we have worked for. We believe we owe it to our staff and to everyone who has supported us through this harrowing period.”
The J4S stud has been under quarantine restrictions since the death from Hendra virus of one of his prize mares at the beginning of August.
The outbreak claimed the life of Rockhampton vet Alister Rodgers, who had treated horses on Mr Brady's property, and staff members were given an experimental course of drugs as a precaution against contracting the virus which passes from fruit bats to horses to humans.
Mr Brady described the effects of the lengthy quarantine as catastrophic. He estimated not being able to trade for the past two months had cost the business about $100,000, not including the value of the stock that had either died or had been destroyed.
“We had considered closing up and walking away. The DPI has told us that every other business touched by Hendra had shut, but we have never been quitters.
“We still have three people on worker's compensation and employ nine local people. We also buy $6000 a month on feed with local businesses. It would be a big impact on the economy if we sold up and moved away.”
He said despite losing four mares and four foals, which either died from the virus or were destroyed as a precaution, the business had a stock of healthy horses.
“We are expecting the all-clear in a matter of days and then we will be the only people in Australia with a certificate that the property is Hendra-free.”
But his big fear is that the business will not be given a chance to recover.
“The test will come when we reopen. Will we be able to sell our horses? Will our clients come back? We'll just have to wait to see how the community responds.”
John said the heartbreak of Mr Rodgers' death and the stress associated with the outbreak had “knocked me around something fierce”.
Yet he was determined to keep going to keep up the pressure on the authorities to develop a vaccine.
“I'm convinced we were victims of circumstances. I don't think we could have done anything differently that would have prevented what happened. “We reported it at the earliest opportunity. I wonder how many other horses elsewhere have died of Hendra but no one bothered to test for it.”
The quarantine should have been lifted last week, but tests on two horses produced questionable results.
“The tests are being re-analysed and the scientists are fairly confident it was a reporting error rather than a new outbreak,” he said.
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