Travel for horses from New Zealand to Australia is expected to soon return to normal, with the final sign off of new health certification amendments relating to piroplasmosis about to be completed.
Travel was halted last year after a single, isolated case of a mare with a positive test for Theileria equi, the tick-borne protozoan that causes piroplasmosis.
Following the detection of the single case, New Zealand Bloodstock Airfreight, IRT, the New Zealand Thoroughbred Breeders’ Association and the New Zealand Equine Health Association have worked closely with MPI (Ministry For Primary Industries) to regain the “country freedom” status.
Australian authorities have confirmed they have accepted the amendments to the new health certification from MPI and New Zealand authorities are now awaiting final sign off to recommence the effortless exporting process again between New Zealand and Australia.
Once this is completed the added expense of the extra blood tests and paperwork to travel will be removed, and the time between booking and export will be reduced giving breeders and owners increased flexibility when making flight plans.
“It has been about getting all the information together and getting Australia to accept our country freedom status,” NZB Airfreight Manager Greg Northcott said.
“Without that, we have to take the extra pre-export blood tests which have been very challenging as they have to get exported to Perth for testing.
“A lot of testing has been done on a hell of a lot of horses to prove we don’t have the disease here.
“We can say we have country freedom but every country has the right to say what they require from us. It is self-declared, we do the same thing when we bring horses into New Zealand. It is not saying ‘we don’t believe you’ it is saying ‘we believe you but are going to test for it anyway’.
“It was taking a good three weeks to get export booked, a vet out to take the bloods, those sent on the courier and to get the results back. It took a lot of time.
“It is not just a saving of cost, it means there is more flexibility and you don’t have to make a decision three or four weeks out from the flight.”