I recently asked people who follow me on Facebook if they had any of their horses microchipped. Based on the response, it appears that microchipping our horses has not been overly utilized. If I asked how many of us have our dog or cat microchipped, I would guess that would be a very high percentage.
Microchips are rice grain sized Radio Frequency Identification devices used to transmit using a unique series of numbers or letters the identity of an animal using radio waves. The chip for horses contain a unique 15-digit number assigned to your horse and is inserted by your veterinarian into the nuchal ligament on the left side of the neck half-way between the poll and withers. The chip would be analogous to the VIN on your truck. Like the VIN, the chip only contains the unique number assigned to your horse. The number is tied to the information you provided to the breed association or regulatory group when you registered your horse. There is not any data stored in the chip. There are newer chips available that can “read” and transmit a horse’s temperature when scanned. These are Biothermal microchips and have been proven to be highly correlated with rectal temperature measurements.
Microchips have been widely accepted and used in Europe for many years. In the US, some breed association and regulatory bodies have followed suit and require horses to be microchipped. The Jockey Club began requiring all foals born in 2017 and later have a microchip number on their foal registration application. Since 2013, Federation Equestre Internationale (FEI) has required horses be microchipped if registering for a FEI Passport, FEI Recognition Card including FEI Registration and IDs.
One of the topics covered in Equi-University is Biosecurity. Videos, articles and Blog post are all used to discuss all the components of Biosecurity and how this can impact the horse industry. Biosecurity is one of area where I believe microchipping can play a major role. The individual chip number can be linked to a horse’s medical records, e.g. Coggins status. If a Biothermal chip is used the ability to easily monitor temperature of large numbers of horses can be done with a minimum of stress on the horse. In the past few years we have seen outbreaks of contagious diseases and the quarantine of facilities. Many of these facilities have large numbers of resident horses. During quarantine the horses are usually required to have their temperatures recorded twice per day. A facility with 25 horses would require a great deal of time to take rectal temperatures twice per day for 21 days if required. If the horses had Biothermal chips, one person could quickly take the temperature with a scanner without the stress of handling the horse.
It seems a good idea to microchip our horses. This would not only do a great job in identifying our horses but to also aid in monitoring their health.