Microchipping Your Horse

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With hurricane season now peaking here in North Carolina, we all know that permanent identification is important when it comes to having livestock and reclaiming them in the aftermath of a natural disaster. Some of the more traditional forms of identification include branding and tattooing but microchipping is gaining traction in the equine world especially after seeing how it has benefitted dog and cat owners for the last 20 years or so.

Benefits to Microchipping your Horse Include:

  • Permanent Identification Method
  • Cannot be altered
  • Assists in reuniting animals with owners after emergencies
  • Decreased cheating at shows and other competitive equine events
  • Relatively inexpensive
  • Easier tracking and quicker containment of disease outbreaks

Microchip

The process to insert the microchip is quick and can be done by your veterinarian as part of any routine checkup. Most animals are scanned before inserting a microchip to confirm that the horse has not been previously chipped. If no chip is present, the vet will locate the nuchal ligament (1.5 – 2 inches below mane line) and will insert the rice-sized microchip using a sterile needle after administering a local anesthetic. The microchip will then be scanned to make sure it was properly inserted and can be read with the hand-held scanner. The chip number is recorded in the horse’s records at this time and should be registered with the proper microchip company by following the directions with the paperwork that accompanies the microchip. The insertion site will be tender for a few days just like when an injection is given but as long as sterile protocol was followed, the risk of infection or further complications should be none to minimal.

Inserting the microchip into the horse.

Scanning for the microchip

Scanning For the Microchip

Most veterinarians do not charge more than $75 for this procedure and that includes the price of the microchip itself. Extensive studies have shown that if properly inserted, chips will not migrate, they cannot be disabled with magnets and they do NOT cause cancer. Most microchips last at least 25 years. Remember, these chips do not include GPS capability so they must be recorded with the proper registry in order to work as intended. If you purchase a previously microchipped horse from someone, make sure to update your information with the registry. Also update your information when you move or change your contact information.

For more information about microchipping your horse, storm preparedness/recovery or anything else mentioned in this article please contact the agriculture agent at your local cooperative extension office.