Microchipping Q&A

During preparedness presentations, we at OLAFR have talked about being prepared for identifying one's horse following a disaster if it becomes necessary. Having registration papers and photos of the horse - ideally also with both you and the horse in some of the pictures - is a good start, but what about those "plain brown wrapper" horses - or sorrel, or grey...? Animals with no definitive markings can be difficult to identify, and confirming ownership can become a problem. Branding and lip tattoos are two forms of identification seen in different circumstances, but microchipping is becoming the most prevalent method, and will undoubtedly increase in usage.

What is involved in getting one's horse microchipped? Prior to people bringing a horse to one of our low-cost microchip clinics, we are often asked about the process or other questions. Below we present a "Q&A":

Q: How long does it take?
A: Placing the microchip takes literally only a second or two.

Q: Will it hurt my horse?
A: The microchip is injected into the horse's neck, so as with any injection, there may be momentary discomfort, but a lasting effect is extremely unlikely.

Q: My horse is a bit nervous - will he need to be sedated?
A: Almost certainly, no. As noted, the implantation is essentially an injection taking only a second or so, and consequently, sedating the horse would actually require two injections instead of one, and injecting a horse so that one can give an injection is a bit of a redundancy! :)

Q: I have heard that microchips can migrate and be difficult to find in the horse later. Is this true?
A: When microchipping was first performed, and in some animals, the 'chip was placed subcutaneously (under the skin). In the horse, this was found to have a tendency to migrate, making it subsequently more difficult to find. The microchip is now placed mid-neck about an inch below the line of the mane in the nuchal ligament, reducing the risk of migration to about zero.

Q: If it's placed in a ligament, will this affect my horse's motion or performance ability?
A: In short, no. There has been no indication of such effects being seen with correctly placed microchips.

Q: Is there any risk at all?
A: As with any injection there is always a very slight risk of injection site reaction, however we carefully prepare the site and use aseptic technique to reduce any risk to almost zero.

Q: Will my microchip be able to be read by all readers?
A: When microchipping was first being performed, there were some chips being used which were also used in other species and were not the now-standard 15-digit 'chip. Readers were available specific to these older microchips, which were usually 10-digit. The older readers will not read 15-digit 'chips, however newer readers are now more common, which are "universal", reading both 10- and 15-digit 'chips. At OLAFR, we use both universal and 15-digit readers.

Q: USEA and USHJA are requiring microchipping. Will your microchip be acceptable by those organizations?
A: Yes. We use a standard 15-digit microchip approved by those groups.

Q: My horse had been previously microchipped with a 10-digit microchip, I show under USEA/USHJA rules - will my existing 'chip be acceptable to them?
A: No. The horse will need to be microchipped again, and the new number submitted to them.

Q: The Jockey Club is requiring that all Thoroughbred foals be microchipped. Will your microchip be acceptable with that organization?
A: No. The Jockey Club is providing their own serial number microchips, which must be obtained directly from them. Our veterinary officer is however available to microchip your horse using these 'chips (which you must bring with you) for a nominal fee at our microchip clinics.

Q: I have seen on the Internet that "900 series" microchips do not provide a unique number and are not acceptable by USEA/USHJA or other organizations. What does this mean?
A: "900 series" microchips are 15-digit 'chips specifically commencing with 900. These have not been restricted to unique-number production under International Standards, and therefore duplicates may occur. At this time, it is only microchips commencing with 900, not 910, 920, etc. Consequently, to avoid possible duplication, these (900 series) microchips should not be used.

Q: Once the microchip is placed, what happens next? How can my horse be identified?
A: You will need to register your horse and your own information in the database associated with the microchip we are using. You can either call an 800 number or go on-line to do this (we provide the information), and the registration is included in our fee. You can - and should - update your contact information any time it is necessary. If showing with a competition body which requires microchipping, you will also have to contact that organization to record the number there, as well as pay any fee associated with that organization.

Q: I do not have a Thoroughbred, or show at USEA/USHJA competitions, why would it be valuable to me to have my horse microchipped?
A: As we noted above and elsewhere, in a disaster it is common for animals to be displaced, either through straying if fences are destroyed, or evacuation by authorities if in danger or injured. Other situations involving separation may include theft or other straying issues. Microchipping is a definitive way to confirm ownership of the horse. To give an idea of the value of permanent identification, following Hurricane Katrina, there were 464 displaced horses with unidentified owners. 463 of those horses were reunited with their owners because Louisiana requires a permanent ID (microchip, unique brand or tattoo) in order to issue a Coggin's certificate.

Q: So what does this cost?
A: As we are interested in getting as many animals microchipped as possible, we maintain a low-cost service, which includes registration. At this time (Fall 2018), we charge $30 per animal. This also includes placement of the microchip by our veterinarian - there is no additional cost to you.

Q: I have a donkey and a mule - can I get them microchipped and the 'chip registered?
A: Yes. We will microchip any equid.

Q: So how do I go about doing this?
A: We run microchip clinics upon request from individuals and organizations. Within the central Oklahoma region (50 miles around Oklahoma City area) we require a minimum of 10 horses for a clinic. Outside that area, we are happy to travel, but will need a greater number of horses to cover our travel costs and time. Contact us! If you are involved with a 4H, FFA or Roundup Club group (or similar), please contact us about the possibility of putting on a clinic, and also our offering a presentation on the importance of microchipping ahead of the clinic, perhaps at your regular meeting. The bottom line in answer to the question is - contact us and we will do our best to make it work!

If you have any questions or comments, please do not hesitate to contact us, and we will be happy to respond. And please feel free to share this page, as the more people that see it, the more equids will hopefully be microchipped, which is the first step to being reunited if things go wrong.

OLAFR Donation

OLAFR is funded by donations and grants. We do not receive any Government funding! If you are not getting your horse microchipped (or even if you are!) and would like to give us a donation, it can be done with the button below. There is also an option to make a recurring (monthly) donation. Thank you for your consideration and support!

Thank you for your interest in and support of the Oklahoma Large Animal First Responders Inc. group!