The research came about after a linkage grant collaboration between stakeholders in the national and international equine sector, and included a number of universities.
"There's sometimes a bit of a disconnect between what happens in the research world and what's happening out in the real world and in the industry," Aleona Swegen, a scientist working on the project, said.
"There are some hurdles they come up against, especially in regards to fertility and how successful breeding programs can be.
"Horses have, in a way, fallen behind a lot of the other animal industries.
"We're working on a project that is hoping to improve fertility for horses.
"This is a world-first in the scale of the project, but it's also really important that the industry are the ones who are initiating this, and they're coming to us with questions."
Breakthrough could improve breeding options
PHOTO: Horse sperm as seen under a microscope. (ABC Newcastle: Robert Virtue)
The Hunter Valley is the world's second-largest Thoroughbred breeding area.
While the Thoroughbred stud book does not allow the use of artificial insemination, other horse breeders are expected to benefit from the scientific breakthrough.
"We're developing new media for the storage of horse semen at room temperature, so that we can potentially transport it around the world [without chilling or freezing the cells]," Zamira Gibb, a post-doctoral research fellow working on the project, said.
"Once we collect the semen, we add our new semen extender. In that medium, which is just a liquid, we have components that will support their metabolism.
"While they're actively metabolising, they're going to be producing a lot of reactive oxygen species and waste products, so there are other components in that media that will help to clean them up."
Cryopreservation technology, where sperm is frozen, has been used for years, but the scientists said it increased the risk of damage to the sample.
Storing the sperm at ambient temperature, with appropriate nutrients to support their survival, negated that risk.
"The ability to transport sperm around the world has been around for the last 50 years, but it does require cryopreservation," Dr Gibb said.
"The process of cryopreservation can be very damaging to the cells, and it can cause them to have an extremely reduced lifespan once you thaw them out, so the fertility is generally quite markedly reduced."