Notice to Industry 4: Requirements for grooms accompanying and working with horses at the Mickleham post-entry quarantine facility

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​​Outco​me

The intended outcome of this document is for grooms working with imported horses at the Mickleham post-entry quarantine facility (MQF) to understand and comply with the biosecurity requirements.

This document is provided for information only. To the extent that this document is inconsistent with any import permit, direction or authorisation to enter a quarantine facility, the terms and conditions of the import permit, direction or authorisation to enter a quarantine facility take precedence and will apply. Failure to comply with any condition of an import permit, direction or authorisation to enter a quarantine facility may constitute an offence.

Background

Each year, hundreds of horses are imported into Australia. Each consignment may pose a biosecurity risk from equine diseases such as equine influenza (EI), equine viral arteritis, contagious equine metritis, piroplasmosis, surra and Japanese encephalitis. Additionally, the import of horses presents a plant biosecurity risk from weed seeds present in air stalls, equipment and animal faeces.

The import of horses is regulated by the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment (the department). The department has developed conditions for the import of horses to reduce the risk of diseases of biosecurity concern from entering Australia. Strict pre-export and post-arrival quarantine (PAQ) requirements apply to all imported horses (except those from New Zealand and New Caledonia).  Strict requirements are also in place for people and goods in contact with imported horses.

The Biosecurity Act 2015 provides biosecurity officers with the authority to give decontamination directions to people if they are suspected of exposure to a disease of biosecurity concern to Australia.

Decontamination requirements

Grooms who have travelled or had contact with the imported horses but are not accompanying horses to MQF are required to:

  • Present all baggage for inspection and treatment at the corral.
  • Undertake a complete head to toe, full body 3-minute shower (including washing hair and cleaning under fingernails) before leaving the corral.
  • Change into new/clean clothing and footwear after showering, immediately prior to leaving the corral.
  • Surrender all worn clothing to a biosecurity officer for laundering, and footwear for cleaning (if required) and mandatory disinfection.

Grooms who have travelled or had contact with the imported horses and are accompanying horses to MQF are required to:

  • Travel to MQF horse compound in the horse transport vehicle in the designated groom compartment (not the driver’s cabin).
  • Clearly label all personal luggage and present it for inspection (and treatment if necessary) after arrival in the horse compound.

All grooms attending the horse compound at any time are required to:

  • Wear dedicated clothing including underwear, socks and footwear in the horse compound, which must remain in the compound until horses are released from biosecurity control.
  • Undertake a complete head to toe, full body 3-minute shower before leaving the horse compound including washing hair and cleaning under fingernails.
  • Change into clean clothing including underwear, socks and footwear immediately prior to leaving the horse compound.

Any personal equipment (e.g. mobile phones, tablets, paperwork, eyeglasses etc) used on site at the corral or horse compound must either:

  • Remain in the horse compound until horses have been released from biosecurity control, OR
  • Be decontaminated prior to leaving the horse compound by wiping down the equipment with alcohol wipes OR

For simple jewellery, it may be permitted to enter and leave the horse compound if it can be adequately disinfected.

As such, grooms are advised to only take essential equipment into the horse compound. Unauthorised equipment or personal effects are NOT permitted in the compound. Limited secure storage is available at the entrance to each compound for small personal items.

Note: Grooms are permitted to move from one horse compound to the other but must follow all personnel and equipment decontamination procedures when leaving each compound. Failure to follow decontamination procedures will be treated as a non-compliance.

Note regarding protective vests:

  • Protective vests worn during the arrival and transportation/clearance of horses must be given to departmental personnel for decontamination prior to leaving the corral or MQF. Alternatively, protective vests worn inside MQF after the arrival of horses, must stay in the facility until the horses are released from biosecurity control.
  • Decontamination will include removal of any plant material and spraying with 70% ethanol.
  • If a groom attends multiple clearances of horses heading to the same horse compound, their vest may be held at the corral by the department between arrivals without decontamination in between.
  • Vests are not allowed to go between compounds at MQF.

 

Biosecurity requirements

Requirements for the horse compound

  • Only grooms nominated by the horse importer are eligible for authorisation to enter the horse compound.
  • The department will only authorise personnel into the horse compound if they are essential to biosecurity and/or horse husbandry.
  • All grooms attending the horse compound must be given authorisation by the department to enter MQF. A 12-month authorisation to enter the horse compound is permitted if the grooms:
    • have completed all relevant department and site-specific training within the last 12 months; and
    • sign and comply with all requirements outlined in the authorisation form provided by a biosecurity officer prior to initial entry.

      Note: If grooms have not completed the training within the last 12 months, they will need to read and sign an authorisation form to gain temporary access.  They will require biosecurity officer supervision at all times within the compound. To receive a 12-month authorisation, personnel must have completed a full training session.
       
  • Grooms will be issued with an access card by security on the first day of duty for the intake. This card may be retained by the groom but will only be activated during each quarantine period and for cleaning the compound after horses have been released from biosecurity control.
  • Grooms’ dedicated work clothes and footwear will be inspected by a biosecurity officer to ensure cleanliness on arrival into the horse compound. Clothes and footwear will be treated if necessary and must remain in the horse compound until the horses are released from biosecurity control.
  • Personal effects will also be inspected by a biosecurity officer on arrival at the horse compound.
  • No equipment may be taken into the horse compound except with the authorisation of a department officer.
  • All equipment used in the feeding, handling and treatment of the horses in the quarantine facility must be new or cleaned and disinfected before use.
  • All equipment must be used only in the dedicated horse compound for the duration of the PAQ period unless otherwise approved by the department. 
  • All equipment must remain in the horse compound until the horses are released or be disinfected to the satisfaction of the department prior to removal from the horse compound.
  • Feed arriving with the horses without a valid import permit must be disposed of in biosecurity waste bins on the day of arrival.
  • Grooms must not use the horse walker within each compound until they have approval from the assistant director - horses (or delegate) and the importer to do so.

 

Monitoring horse health during PAQ

Groom requirements for monitoring horse health

During PAQ, grooms are required to:

  • Take and record each horse’s rectal temperature on arrival (if not already done by the private veterinarian) and then twice daily (at least 8 hours apart) for the remaining time in PAQ.
    • Departmental staff will monitor the taking and recording of rectal temperatures for the first 4 days of PAQ.
    • Random unannounced monitoring by a biosecurity officer will continue for the remainder of the consignment in PAQ.
  • Note: if no rectal temperature is recorded on any occasion during PAQ the groom must notify the private veterinarian and horse compound biosecurity officer on duty as soon as possible. If a horse’s temperature cannot be taken for any reason on two consecutive occasions during PAQ, additional examinations and testing will be required.
  • Notify the private veterinarian and horse compound biosecurity officer on duty if at any time the horse’s rectal temperature is 38.5°C or higher (39°C or higher for foals under 6 months of age).
    • A nasopharyngeal swab (nasal swab for foals under 6 months of age) to test for EI must be collected if the horse has two consecutive temperatures higher than 38.5°C (39°C or higher for foals under 6 months of age).
    • An additional test does not need to be taken if swabs have been taken within the last 24 hours and sent for testing.
  • Observe horses and record signs of general health on each horse’s daily horse health record. This is kept in a designated area within the horse compound and must be completed twice-a-day.
  • Note: Every detail of every horse must be recorded on its individual horse health record. This includes any abnormalities, treatment and/or supplement given, appetite, weight, farrier work and use of horse walker or horse crush.
  • Any abnormalities in the health of a horse during PAQ must be reported to the supervising departmental veterinary officer (VO) or the horse compound biosecurity officer on duty as soon as possible. Abnormalities may include nose or eye discharge, coughing, diarrhoea, reduced appetite, etc.
  • If a tick or other ectoparasite is found on a horse during PAQ it must be reported to the supervising VO, the horse compound biosecurity officer on duty and private veterinarian immediately. The tick or ectoparasite must be kept secure (such as in a vial) for further examination.
  • Notify the horse compound biosecurity officer on duty if a private veterinarian or farrier is required.
  • Do not give any treatment to a horse unless a private veterinarian has prescribed the medication and directed you to do so, in accordance with veterinary treatment requirements during PAQ.

    Note: Grooms must only administer oral or intramuscular medications. Grooms are not permitted to administer intravenous medications.
  • All prescribed medication must be stored in the stable block veterinary office dispensing cupboard or fridge. Medication that has not been labelled and prescribed for a specific horse by the private veterinarian must not be stored in the dispensing cupboard at any time.

    Note: The head groom or compound biosecurity officer on duty can provide access to the dispensing cupboard when necessary.
     
  • Dispose of all waste and sharps in the designated containers within the horse compound. Dispose of all faeces and stable waste produced in the first four days of PAQ in the marked biosecurity waste bins/bunker. Faeces and stable waste produced after 4 days must be placed in the non-biosecurity waste bins/bunker. 
  • Report any non-compliance in biosecurity procedures (by you or any other person) to the horse compound biosecurity officer on duty or department’s VO as soon as possible. Failure by grooms to comply with all biosecurity procedures and requirements for monitoring horse health during PAQ is considered a non-compliance and further action may result. 
  • Sign the entry and exit log in the presence of a biosecurity officer before entering and/or before leaving the horse compound, using the form provided at the entrance to each compound.

Horse husbandry and welfare

During PAQ the grooms’ responsibilities for horse husbandry and welfare are to:

  • Make all reasonable efforts to ensure that horses are under control at all times.
  • Supervise the horse at all times when a horse is outside its stable, including when the horse is in an exercise area in the horse compound.
  • Provide adequate equipment, feed, water, supervision and care to ensure the welfare of the horses held in PAQ, including:
    • Checking feed to ensure it is free from contamination.
    • Storing feed in the best practical way to prevent deterioration (e.g. in dry, rodent-proof bins).
    • Ensuring horses are able to easily reach feed and water containers.
    • Ensuring clean water is available at regular intervals.
  • Maintain the hygiene of the horse compound by:
    • Providing appropriate, clean and sufficiently thick stable bedding.
    • Ensuring that soiled bedding and waste is deposited in the designated bin/area within the facility. 
    • Cleaning out horse yards of manure and excess feed and raking after each use.
    • Hosing, sponging or brushing horses when required to remove sweat, sand and dirt.

      Note: All required equipment, feed and therapeutics must be provided by the importer, and are subject to the department's requirements for entry into the facility. Feed arriving with horses may only be used if accompanied by an import permit and it has been appropriately treated prior to use.

 

General requirements while at MQF

All personnel are required to comply with the following general requirements:

  • Smoking is not allowed. MQF is a non-smoking, drug and alcohol-free site. If alcohol or recreational drugs are found on site or personnel are suspected of being under the influence of alcohol or recreational drugs they will be removed from MQF and further investigations conducted.
  • Disorderly and antisocial behaviour will not be tolerated. If such behaviour occurs the offending party will be removed from MQF and further investigations conducted. CCTV is in operation 24 hours a day.
  • All gates are to be kept closed and locked.
  • Loss of keys or access cards, or damage to property must be reported to department officers immediately.
  • Vehicles are to be parked in the designated car park spaces only.
  • Driving speed limits must be obeyed.
  • Grooms are responsible for maintaining cleanliness of the amenities within the horse compound.
  • All garbage must be placed in the bins provided.
  • Please respect other people on site by keeping noise to a minimum and by leaving and entering the site quietly.
  • All relevant WH&S control measures must be applied at all times.
  • All WH&S incidents must be reported in a timely manner.

    Note: The department will pursue individuals for costs where their negligent actions have resulted in damage or loss.
     
  • Night grooms – when working alone at night after the biosecurity officer on duty has left the compound the security team will perform regular welfare checks on grooms throughout the night for safety reasons. If grooms are required to enter stables to attend to the horses, they must advise the security team prior to entering the stable, so their activity can be monitored for their own safety.

Non-compliance with these conditions

Failure to follow these instructions, or specific directions by department staff, will result in removal from the facility and further investigations conducted. Additionally, failure to comply with the above conditions may constitute an offence under the Criminal Code Act 1995 or Biosecurity Act 2015 and penalties may apply.

Version History

The following table details the published date and amendment details for this document.

10.0 11/9/2017 Updated details on groom’s exotic disease training.
Updated compound as a non-smoking site.
11.0 10/11/2017 Updated to accommodate for AA site operated corral commencing operation.
12.0 29/03/2018 Updated to add in groom protective vest advice.
13.0 29/07/2020 Updated to include requirements for grooms administering treatments prescribed by a veterinarian.
Updated department name.
General updates to improve readability.
Last reviewed: 29 July 2020
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