Request for Tender (RFT) – AgriFutures Thoroughbred Horses Program

Phase Two: Post-mortem of pregnancy loss in thoroughbred horses

This Request for Tender (RFT) is seeking services to undertake one or both parts of Phase two of the post-mortem of pregnancy loss project funded by AgriFutures Thoroughbred Horses Program.

Mid to late term pregnancy loss is a critical issue for the Australian thoroughbred horse industry. Causes of pregnancy loss have not been investigated on a national level and undertaking appropriate post-mortems of aborted foetuses is not possible in several Australia’s largest thoroughbred breeding areas.  The current Phase One project commenced in 2019 (ending 2023), funded through the AgriFutures Thoroughbred Horses Program is developing a system to investigate and record the pathology of mid to late term pregnancy losses in thoroughbred mares throughout Australia. In this project, the frequency, pathology, different causes and risk factors for equine pregnancy loss in Australia will be determined. Diagnostic criteria will be developed for all known causes of pregnancy loss, and a standardised procedure will be described to investigate all losses. This will enable the development of online written, verbal and video training tools in the techniques for post-mortem and histopathological examination of the foetus and foetal membranes. These tools will assist veterinarians and pathologists to thoroughly investigate equine pregnancy losses. Phase Two of the post-mortem project will link Phase one, with a pilot a post-mortem approach outside of the Hunter Valley of New South Wales, to form a national understanding of this issue.

The aim of this RFT is to provide AgriFutures Australia with two distinct sub-projects for the Phase two of the late term pregnancy loss project. The two sub-projects are:

  1. Part A – Linking project – linking Phase One and Phase Two of the post-mortem of pregnancy loss in thoroughbred horses. This project will drive engagement with veterinarians, laboratories, and thoroughbred mare owners/studs to develop a pathway for post-mortems to occur in Southern NSW, Southern QLD, and Northern VIC.
  2. Part B – National pilot post-mortem project – organising and delivering funding to studs/mare owners to undertake post-mortems of late term pregnancy foetus abortions, and collate results of analysis of post-mortem test results.

Individuals or organisations making a submission are required to contact the Manager, Research for further details and a project plan.  A budget attachment must also be provided as part of the application.

The AgriFutures Thoroughbred Horses RFT closes Wednesday, 28 October 2020, at 12 noon (AEDT).


Understanding the causes of late term pregnancy loss in Australian thoroughbreds has not been investigated on a national level. There is a current system in the Hunter Valley NSW where a percentage of post-mortems are undertaken on aborted foetuses from late term pregnancies, and the information from these post-mortems and associated lab work is entered into a database. This database allows for the collation of information from the histology and gross pathology of the post-mortems to undertake epidemiological assessments of this information.

The next stage of this program is to trial a national approach for submitting foetal post-mortems. Southern QLD, Southern NSW and Northern VIC are the next largest thoroughbred breeding areas within Australia. Therefore, it is a logical step to involve these three areas as a pilot for the national program. However, it was clear from initial discussions with breeders in these areas that there is not a formalised pathway of post-mortem examinations within these areas. Additional work will need to be undertaken to understand the logistics of post-mortem assessment in these areas. There will also need to be analysis on veterinary interest, and current levels of competency of both vets and lab technicians.

The project will trial what has already been learnt from Phase One of the project in the Hunter Valley NSW, and understand the implementation of the program across Southern QLD, Southern NSW and Northern VIC, and, in future, across Australia. The project will utilise the draft post-mortem manuals and case definitions from Phase One. The project will consider the level of competence of vets within Southern QLD, Southern NSW and Northern VIC to understand the required training levels. The project will also utilise the training methods used with vets in the Hunter Valley, NSW as part of Phase One, and the upgrades on the database, which are being trialled by these trained vets. The project will also feed into an industry white paper to be produced as an output part of Phase One, which will consider how the program could be delivered across Australia.

To ensure that the project maintains the numbers of post-mortems to simulate the industry wide database, further post mortems will be encouraged in the Hunter Valley, NSW through provision of funding for studs/mare owners, as well as Southern QLD, Southern NSW and Northern VIC. This funding will encourage those who may not, due to the expense, have foetuses examined on a regular basis and encourage post-mortems of a mare’s first abortion.

This project will provide strategic direction for the industry to be able to recognise causes of late term pregnancy loss, and analyse these causes to determine trends. This project will bring together breeders, owners, veterinarians, and laboratories to create a logistical pathway and process that will allow for recognition of clusters and causes of abortions.

Project requirements

This project is a priority for the industry and will address a key aspect of the Interim Thoroughbred Horses Five Year RD&E Plan. In particular this project will deliver on Objective 1: Continue to improve breeding outcomes and foal health and development, and Objective 2: Reduce the incidence and impact of diseases and parasites in horses. will address aspects of the 5yr plan

This project may be completed as one project (Phase two) or two separate sub-projects covering only one of the project parts if required. A business may apply to tender for Phase two as a whole or one of the sub-projects. There is an assumption that the linking sub-project will need to be finalised prior to the commencement of the second sub-project.

Project deliverables

The overarching project objective is to take the outputs from the first stage of this project and pilot the outcomes in the Hunter Valley NSW, Southern QLD, Southern NSW and North Eastern VIC thoroughbred breeding farms. The required outputs will include the manuals and trained vets for the processing and analysis of post mortems,  and will develop logistical processes within the additional areas, determine costs associated with using different labs or a number of different labs, and work with mare owners/studs to reimburse costs in return for inclusion of appropriate data in the greater post mortem database.

Deliverables will include:

  • Logistics documentation outlining current post mortem pathways, and identification of the most efficient pathway to be utilised within the project.
  • Quotes obtained from vets, labs and delivery companies required.
  • Funds provided to participating mare owners/studs and receipts generated.
  • Document listing vets interested in participating in the project.
  • An assessment document of post mortem education levels of vets and training requirements.
  • An assessment document of availability of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to vets, list of PPE required, and where to purchase PPE.
  • 300 post mortems of late term pregnancy abortions processed, analysed and data inputted into the database.
  • Pre, during and post project communications tools and materials to enrol mare owners/studs to participate, inform levy payers of project, and extend project outputs.

Outcomes will include:

  • An understanding of logistics required to run the program within Southern QLD and Northern VIC.
  • An understanding of veterinary and laboratory post mortem competency levels, which will feed into further training requirements through Phase One.
  • Inclusion of post mortem analysis results in the database that are from outside of the Hunter Valley.
  • An additional 300 post mortems to feed into the database for epidemiological assessment.

Prior to applying, all applicants must contact Annelies McGaw, Manager, Research, on the contact details below to obtain further information.


6 October 2020RFT applications open
28 October 2020RFT applications close
11 November 2020Expected execution of contract
33 June 2022Expected project completion date

AgriFutures Australia believes that the project should be completed within the above timeframe. If a longer timeframe is required, the Tenderer should explain why that is the case.

Research contracts

AgriFutures Australia uses a standard form contract for R&D projects (Research Agreement), which sets out the terms on which AgriFutures Australia will engage successful applicants to carry out the project.

Applicants must be familiar with the Research Agreement before lodging Preliminary Research Proposals (PRPs), and are advised to seek legal advice on it before lodging a PRP.

Read Research Agreement

The Research Agreement has been developed to reflect AgriFutures Australia’s statutory and other responsibilities in funding projects. AgriFutures Australia will generally not negotiate substantive amendments to any clauses of the Agreement unless:

  • It is satisfied that exceptional circumstances exist that require amendment to the standard form; and
  • The applicant completes a statement of non-compliance for each of those clauses.

Applicants will be taken to have agreed to all clauses in the Research Agreement that are not referred to in a statement of non-compliance. The extent of any non-compliance will be a factor in AgriFutures Australia’s evaluation of the application.

If you require further information regarding the Research Agreement, contact Louise Heaslip, General Manager Business and Finance:

How to make a submission

AgriFutures Australia business with the applicant is facilitated by the online project management system Clarity. This system manages all stages of project administration. Quotation’s must be submitted online using Clarity.

Users must create a Clarity account before submitting a proposal.

If you have previously submitted an application via Clarity please use your existing name and password alternatively if your organisation already exists in Clarity, please use the New User Request online form and we will assign your profile to that organisation.

If your Research Organisation does not already exist in Clarity, or you are unsure, please use the New User and Company Creation Request to create a New Research Organisation and User account simultaneously.

Submissions close 12noon (AEDT) Wednesday, 28 October 2020.


If you have any questions about the RFT process or requirements in the management services, please contact:

Annelies McGaw
Manager, Research
0407 987 738