Horse stud quarantine lifted
JOHN and Christine Brady were back where they belong yesterday for the first time in eight weeks.
The owners of the J4S Equine Nursery in Cawarral could finally get acquainted with some of the foals born since the property was placed in quarantine at the start of the Hendra outbreak that almost forced them out of business.
An inspector from DPI tore down the tape and the notice forbidding entry to the Bradys' thoroughbred stud at 7pm on Monday, effectively ending a living nightmare for the couple and their nine staff.
“Now we can start to put our life together again. We can start sleeping again,” said Christine, who with John built up the business from scratch over 17 years.
For two months the 30 horses on the stud have had little human contact except for needles and temperature checks, all conducted by scientists or workers in full biosecurity suits.
“I never want to see one of those suits again as long as I live,” said John, who describes his relationship with horses as a life-long love affair.
The Hendra outbreak at the nursery claimed the life of Rockhampton vet Alister Rodgers and led to four people undergoing experimental drug treatment to ward off the disease.
Stud manager Debbie Brown and J4S horseman Adrian Daniels are still experiencing side-effects from that treatment and the trauma they suffered to return to work.
And after seeing the devastation wreaked by Hendra up close, John believes it is time for Queensland Premier Anna Bligh to seize the initiative and lead the crusade for an effective vaccine.
“I think she should legislate for a $25 levy on all horse registrations to pay for research for a vaccine. She doesn't need the agreement of the industry, she should go ahead and do what's right. Once we have a vaccine for horses, that will ensure no humans ever suffer because it's a disease that can only be passed to people by horses.”
The stud lost four horses and an estimated $100,000 in income and livestock during the lock-down. “Equine Influenza cost us an estimated $200,000 and we had not recovered from that.
“And we don't know how the stigma of Hendra will continue to impact on us,” John said.
He is planning to stage a Dutch auction sale of fillies and foals in December on the property to raise capital.
“I think it would be a waste of time trying to put them through a commercial sale.
“But if we have an open day, when people can come and see the stud and how healthy the animals are, that might work.”
He said he had a long list of people who went to extraordinary lengths to help the business during the quarantine.
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