QRIC to continue microchipping and Hendra vaccinations for Standardbred foals but with conditions

The Queensland Racing Integrity Commission (QRIC) will continue to support the Standardbred industry with microchipping and Hendra vaccination but it wants more commitment from Harness racing participants in return.

For the past two years the Commission has microchipped all Standardbred foals to assist the Harness racing industry to comply with a Harness Racing Australia directive requiring all foals to be microchipped as well as freeze branded; at the same time QRIC staff offer to provide the first Hendra vaccination free of charge.

However, the take-up of the Hendra vaccination is not as high as the Commission would like and if this free foal microchipping and vaccination program is to continue Racing Integrity Commissioner Ross Barnett wants to see more owners take up the opportunity to commence their foal’s Hendra vaccination course.

“The aim of providing the first Hendra vaccination to foals without charge is to encourage owners and breeders to ensure the Standardbred population is protected against the deadly Hendra virus,” he said.

“In an acknowledgement that this program is costly to the Commission I would also ask breeders and owners to provide their own staff to assist QRIC vets when they carry out the microchipping and vaccinations.

“Currently a Commission veterinarian accompanies the Commission’s freeze branding representative to implant the microchip and if requested, administer the first in a series of three Hendra vaccination shots,” Commissioner Barnett said. 

“A full course of vaccination consisted of a primary course of two shots, administered 3-6 weeks apart, followed by the first booster six months later, and followed by annual boosters thereafter. 

“We estimate these combined initiatives of microchipping and Hendra vaccination save owners between $120 and $240 per foal. 

 “Owners taking up this voluntary first Hendra vaccination injection are responsible for the cost of the follow up second and third Hendra vaccinations and the yearly booster shots,” he said. 

 “The deadly Hendra virus is an ongoing concern for Queensland’s equine industry. Of the seven people who have contracted the virus in Queensland, four have died. 

“We will monitor the uptake of vaccinations carefully and may not continue with the program next year if the numbers fall below this year’s levels which are well below 50 per cent of the Queensland Standardbred foal population.”


Media Contact: Vincene Overs 0472 842 346