Equine Microchips

Equine Microchips

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Why Microchip?  
We hope the following information will not only educate you on the current status of microchipping in the USA. Still, we will also encourage you to put the nation's only VIN, serial or social security number in your horse or pet.

Theft or Loss
Law enforcement agencies view microchips as analogous to VIN numbers, making them court-worthy permanent IDs. During natural disasters, rescue organizations utilize scanners to locate horse owners. Signs alerting visitors to microchipped horses on premises are theft deterrents and are available from NetPosse. 

NetPosse offers microchips for equines in both US Standard and International frequencies. The microchip number is unique and unalterable. Registered in a national database, the chip identifies and connects the horse with the owner. With a microchip as a VIN number, there is little doubt about ownership.    

Disaster Recovery
Microchips can be instrumental in reuniting horses with their owners when disaster strikes. Since 1994 Louisiana has required that identification such as microchips, tattoos, or brands be used with its mandatory equine infectious anemia (EIA) testing. Although some companies recommend not using a second chip, many feel that it is better protection to have both the 125 kHz and 134.2 kHz chips to make sure a chip is read during this transitioning period.

Genetics & Internal Management
The microchip is the perfect identifying number for all records, charts, and procedures having to do with a patient. Confusion from color or trait similarities is no longer an issue. Genetics and DNA are backed up by a microchip's ‘instant ID’. Large numbers of horses penned together can be easily be identified for vet or farrier care when using a microchip scanner. It is great for permanent ID when recording the sale of a horse. 

Horse Registries & Events
Some registries require microchip identification, some recommend it, and most include the chip number on registration papers. The chip number can be scanned and documented with blood typing and DNA profiles for positive instant ID. Chip numbers can be correlated with event or performance records to authenticate individual performance history. Microchips are required for CERF certification.  USEF, USHJA, FEI, and a few other registries now require the 134 kHz microchip to show in their events. See more information on this subject below.

Government and Regulatory
Microchips meet identification requirements in certain states. AVID microchips provide accurate and positive ID in quarantine, disease contact, or exposure situations. The microchip number included on Coggins forms, vaccination records, etc., provides proof of procedure on a specified animal. Microchips are used for permanent ID and tracking in certain government wild horse programs.

International Travel
You need a Certified ISO microchip with a 15-digit long number that meets the specifications of the International Standards Organization. (ISO)

The Microchip and Insertion ProcessInjection of the microchip is a simple procedure for horses. The microchip is scanned to make sure it is readable. A large gauge needle is used to inject the chip into the nuchal ligament halfway between the withers and the poll on the left side of the neck.  A smaller gauge needle is available, but the scanning range may not be as large. The injection causes a slight amount of discomfort to a horse, and since the microchip is in the ligament, it is less likely to migrate if properly inserted and does not leave scarring.  If you can see or feel the microchip, which is about the size of a grain of rice, it has been implanted improperly.  

The microchip information is much like your VIN number or social security number for your horse. There is no data on the chip, and it is not a tracking chip with GPS.  Personal information is only in the database and is not visible to the public by entering your microchip number. The information is only available through the microchip manufacturer, chip registry, or other people or organizations you have registered with. A registry proves that the chip is verifiable and who the horse is registered to in their registry.

We recommend that you also ask that your microchip number be placed on file with your veterinarians, rescue adoption forms, and breed association paperwork, to name a few.

The Cost

Microchips and scanners have a wide range of costs. The microchip can cost as low as $25 to more than $125 when implanted via a shelter or veterinarian. Much of the cost depends on the procedure used to insert the microchip. The insertion can range from a simple process to a very sterile and elaborate process. Some veterinarians clean the area and inject the microchip, thus the lower cost. Others may shave, clean, give a lignocaine shot (a medication used to numb tissue in a specific area) and then insert the microchip—a longer and more costly procedure.  

Thanks to Stolen Horse International (SHI), the first to sell a microchip to the public online, you can purchase microchips at a lower cost. In most states, inserting the microchip into your own horses is legal, but not into someone else's horses. We recommend this only if you are competent with injections in horses. If you doubt that you can do the insertion, you can still buy the chips online and have your vet insert them on their next visit to the farm. Even if you are not implanting the chip, we recommend you know the procedure well to oversee correct placement and insertion. Not every professional knows where and how to insert the microchip; sometimes, they place them on the wrong side of the neck or in the wrong place.

Registration of the Microchip

The horse owner must register the microchip. It is easier to prove ownership of a lost, missing, or stolen horse with its VIN number. Some companies send information to their contacts if a horse is missing, while others are only a registry. We recommend that you research the registry, find out what it does for you when your horse is missing, and ask for proof of concept information.  

Remember, nothing is foolproof when recovering missing horses and proving ownership. Even though the microchip company registry is where most people trace the chip, those registries have very limited information on the horse itself.

When a horse is missing and is registered in the Stolen Horse International identification program registry, the NetPosse ID, NetPosse Alerts may be sent to the public, multiple agencies, which may include state vets, horse associations, horse rescues, law enforcement, the news media via a press release and much more.

Stolen Horse International recommends that you register with the company where the microchip is purchased first, where you can input contact information, the horse’s veterinarian, a photo of the horse, or other visible ID and breed registration number. Then back up that registry with the NetPosse ID all equine ID record keeping registry, which is a great way to keep all of your ID and records in one place to prove ownership. 

There is no perfect stand-alone ID. All types of ID have pros and cons and can work or not work, depending on the situation.

The NetPosse ID registry, started in 2002, is based on decades of fieldwork with thousands of missing horse cases, and contains more in-depth information than the microchip company registries. Situations where owners did not get their horses back highly influence the data input in the registry to help owners circumvent any recovery problems. 

There is no other registry backed by as much hands-on experience or detailed information as the NetPosse ID Registry, which includes all types of equine ID, such as hot brands, freeze brands, hoof brands, lip tattoos, markings, and more. Suppose a horse in the registry is missing. In that case, the information is used not only to disseminate the NetPosse Alert to tens of thousands nationwide but to provide the owner with a webpage with all the data, pictures, and a flyer (if warranted) to share with the public.

More Microchip Information--How does it work, and where is it required?
We are moving from the old US Standard 125 kHz microchip frequency used for decades in the United States to the new ISO 134.2 kHz International microchip. Although no law dictates which frequency must be used, the International Organization of Standardization (ISO) for radio-frequency identification recommends that:

  • A microchip is meant to be a lifetime ID, and ownership can be transferred in most registries. Register the microchip in a reputable registry and Stolen Horse International's NetPosse ID, the only all-ID record-keeping registry. 
  • A chip must be an ISO microchip operating at a frequency of 134.2 kHz.USEF, USHJA, FEI, and a few other registries.
  • Must operate at 134.2 kHz, read-only by universal scanners compatible with ISO 11784 or ISO 11785.
  • It must have 15 characters, and the first three characters designate the manufacturer or country code. Each horse's other 12 characters are unique, thus their VIN or SS number.
  • 840 is one of the USDA-acceptable ID methods, the 15-digit microchip, that begins with the designated US prefix 8-4-0 and carries the official USDA 840.
  • 900 prefix chips, which are usually cheap and possibly not sterile,  have the potential for duplicate numbers and are unacceptable.  A shared 900 chip is an ISO code carried by many implantable microchip products. It is almost impossible to track the chips to their manufacturers, many of which are overseas or difficult, if not impossible, to read.
  • Make sure the owner of the record is listed in microchip registries.
  • Microchip registration is transferable.
  • USEF, USHJA, FEI, and other registries require the ISO microchip. (See article links below)
  • The Jockey Club requires microchipping for all foals born as of January 1, 2016.
  • Microchips do not migrate if properly inserted.
  • A microchip is not a GPS tracker since the microchip does not have a battery or power source. Both are required for GPS. A scanner's radio wave signals initiate microchips.
  • You can use a microchip for many tasks--FEI Passport requirements, health certificate, Coggins, new foal ID, record keeping, etc. 

The Scanners
A scanner creates an energy field when it is on. A transponder picks up that energy when its antenna enters this energy field. The integrated circuit, the microchip, creates a signal of specific characteristics, and identification data is transmitted using the antenna. A scanner then receives the signal via the antenna’s energy field or by a separate receiving antenna. The scanner understands the signal and converts the data from binary data to decimal format. It then sends that data to a display or other device, such as a computer.

It is important to note while the United States is going through transitioning from the old 125 kHz microchip to the new 134.2 kHz microchip that, the following may occur:

  • The old universal scanners will not read the new ISO microchips even though they are universal scanners. They were universal at the time because they read other companies’ microchips and frequencies used primarily in the United States. Many of these scanners are still in use today.
  • The new “true” universal scanners read the old US standard frequencies plus the new ISO frequency.
  • All scanners are not created equal. There are now scanners being cheaply sold that do not read the encrypted 125 kHz chip or, in some cases, no chips other than the 134.2 frequency. Unless you use a scanner to read your horse, we do not recommend using one of these scanners when reading multiple animals.
  • The US Standard microchips are still sold and preferred by some animal owners and agencies. Microchips last for the life of the animal, thus resulting in decades of use of the 125 kHz frequency microchip.
  • You get what you pay for in scanners. Hundreds of thousands of horses and pets are still using the 125 kHz frequency, and some scanners will show no microchip present when scanning a chip on that frequency. Do you want to be the one who misses the opportunity to save an animal or horse? Spend the money and buy better scanners, especially if you are a professional.
  • Some brands of scanners that read all microchips from any company are AVID Mini Tracker lll (which also reads other frequencies as a universal scanner), Halo, Destron Fearing, HomeAgain WorldScan, Datamars, and Trovan. BEWARE: Not all scanners read frequencies other than the 135.2 kHz frequency. Make sure you ask questions before you purchase a scanner. Don't go by the sales pitches alone. Read the small print.

In Summary

As of this article, the microchip industry is still transitioning, and a scanner that reads multiple frequencies is imperative for professionals when scanning multiple animals. To be a professional with a single frequency or old universal scanner is irresponsible.

As an animal owner, you must know what company and frequency of microchip is implanted in your animal. Should a horse or pet be lost, it is up to you to make sure the right scanner is used to prove a microchip is present. Make sure your vet knows to use a true universal scanner. When making lost posters or flyers, make sure you put that your animal is microchipped, the frequency used, and that it must be read by a scanner that reads that frequency.

The microchip industry is changing in the USA, but one day we will all be on the same frequency, and all scanners will read all chips pretty much like it was before the introduction and push to use the international code.

As for which microchip company is the best--most are similar, but only one still offers the 125 kHz microchip. Our favorite company is AVID. They are one of the oldest companies, have various products, and were the first to offer a pet registry. HomeAgain and Microchip ID also offer good microchips and services and are very reputable. 

We offer a buyer beware warning when purchasing microchips from newer companies, especially if they offer 900 numbered microchips. Do your homework and check them out before purchasing their low-priced chip or scanner. 

It is all about recovery and proving ownership here at Stolen Horse International. We encourage you to microchip your animals even during this time of transition. It is better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it. 

Microchips for horses by  AVID, HomeAgain, and Microchip ID are available in the NetPosse Store. Our microchips are US Standard (125 Khz frequency) and International  (134 Khz frequency) FEI COMPLAINT. Low-cost universal scanners for permanent identification are available.   Purchase your NetPosse ID record-keeping registry, AVID, and HomeAgain Registry.  

NOTE: Not all scanners are created equal. To read all frequencies you need a true universal scanner that reads current frequencies. You do get what you pay for in scanners. Make sure you get the scanner that fits your needs. Don't assume that your scanner reads all frequencies. See more on this topic below. Have questions? Contact us. We have multiple scanners from different companies.  To see the details or purchase the one we use, click here

Microchip Video Demo

AAHA Microchip Lookup Tool

CA.Gov Microchip Implantation

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