‘We Are Sacrificial Lambs For Export Drive’ – Breeder

Off The Record with Charl Pretorius

Thoroughbred breeders and owners of the many other horse breeds in the African Horse Sickness (AHS) Surveillance Zone of the Western Cape have expressed concerns about a recent European Union (EU) policy amendment prohibiting AHS vaccinations in the free and surveillance zones.

Charl Pretorius writes in his weekly Off The Record column that the issue arises from the EU’s reinstatement in March 2024 of the export of horses from South Africa directly to the EU, a decision that was widely celebrated following 13 years of intensive teamwork and negotiations.

However, the long-awaited published regulations to implement the policy have produced an unexpected curved ball by halting the administration of previously carefully controlled AHS vaccinations.

The restriction has been instituted predominantly to protect horses that would carry the ‘live’ vaccine from contracting AHS when they leave the country.

Affected by this policy change are high-profile breeders Varsfontein Stud, Drakenstein Stud and Avontuur Stud along with smaller breeders like Beaumont Stud, Winterbach Stud, Volmoed Stud, and prominent spelling facilities including Soetendal Estate and Paarl Diamant.

Breeders not affected by the requirement are those based in the AHS Protection Zone, including Klawervlei, Ridgemont, and Millstream near Robertson, as well as Wilgerbosdrift and Moutonshoek in the Piketberg region.

Remember this happy announcement in early April? – click here

Is the policy change a serious impediment or a storm in a tea-cup?

Beaumont Stud’s  Dominique & Anton Shepherd (Pic – Supplied)

The problem is fivefold, said breeder Anton Shepherd of Beaumont Stud:

-Yearlings born and raised in the surveillance zone will have to travel, unvaccinated, to the National Yearling Sale in Johannesburg, held every April. This is a high-risk period in the infected area of the country which will increase their susceptibility to contracting AHS. Approximately 300 yearlings could be affected.

-The vaccine restriction will result in a potentially massive financial setback for Cape breeders who decide to sell their yearlings at sales held in the Cape instead of travelling to the annual National Sale, or other notable sales held later in the year on the Highveld or in KZN.

-Unvaccinated yearlings sold at the Cape Sales and bought by owners based on the Highveld (or in other parts of the country), would likewise have to first be vaccinated in the protection zone or another low-risk area in the infected zone to protect them against AHS. This will require extra planning, costs and additional transport arrangements, a potential deterrent to business.

-An increasing number of unvaccinated sports horses in the Surveillance Zone, including showjumpers, dressage horses, polo ponies and ordinary farm horses, greatly increases the potential impact of an AHS outbreak in the area.

-Within a few years, the risk of travelling with unvaccinated horses will dissuade owners and trainers from the Western Cape from entering their best contenders in races elsewhere in the country. This will undoubtedly affect the quality of some of our best graded races, with possible ramifications for the authenticity of the stud book. The entire fabric of breeding and racing in South Africa could be compromised.

Shepherd said: “With exports being the focus of the industry for so long, we worked hard to lay solid foundations for the return of direct exports to the EU. But now the building may collapse. I supported the drive for exports, but now we have to face other issues that may derail the whole process. To me, it’s the biggest crisis for breeders since my father started in 1963.”

He added: “I think that it is morally wrong for horses in the Surveillance Zone to be at risk, essentially the equivalent of the canary in the mine. This restriction from the EU prevents us from free trade either domestically or internationally and I believe it should be legally challenged.”

Click here and read more about what othe breeders, an insurer, and role-players have to say.

Have Your Say - *Please Use Your Name & Surname

Comments Policy
The Sporting Post encourages readers to comment in the spirit of enlightening the topic being discussed, to add opinions or correct errors. All posts are accepted on the condition that the Sporting Post can at any time alter, correct or remove comments, either partially or entirely.

All posters are required to post under their actual name and surname – no anonymous posts or use of pseudonyms will be accepted. You can adjust your display name on your account page or to send corrections privately to the EditorThe Sporting Post will not publish comments submitted anonymously or under pseudonyms.

Please note that the views that are published are not necessarily those of the Sporting Post.

Notify of
1 Comment
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments



Popular Posts