Animal ID and the Horse Industry

Amy Mann of the American Horse Council presented an update on efforts of the Equine Species Working Group (ESWG) in her presentation at the National Institute of Animal Agriculture (NIAA) ID Info Expo held in Kansas City, Mo., Aug. 22-24. The ESWG was established in October 2003 with 37 industry representatives and animal health officials.

“The purpose of the ESWG is to represent the equine industry in the development of the National Animal Identification System (NAIS) and to evaluate NAIS and the potential benefits and costs of the system,” said Mann. “Our goal is to develop recommendations for USDA on how the horse industry might be included in NAIS, should it become mandatory.”

Mann said a national equine ID program is necessary to protect the nation’s horses and industry by addressing human health issues, bio-terrorism, lost identity of missing horses, emergency management, and by working together with international trading partners.

During the first week of August 2006, the ESWG made recommendations to the NAIS. Two key points were made as they relate to movement and ID.

“Reportable movements have been a major concern for some time,” said ESWG Co-Chair Marvin Beeman, DVM. The ESWG decided to focus on horses that are at the greatest risk of exposure to disease, and/or those that might potentially spread disease.

“Our recommendation is to rely on mechanisms already in place for horses that move, i.e., the Certificate of Veterinary Inspection (CVI), VS-127 Permit, or International CVI,” said Beeman. “These will serve as continued starting points for trace back if a disease outbreak occurs. It’s the most practical solution at this time, as it will not place additional burden on horse owners or managers of premises.”

The second key factor in the ESWG recommendations was specific to equine ID and the standardization of ID practices in the industry. The ESWG recommends that states move toward standardization of the CVI, and that horse be identified with industry-compliant radio frequency identification (RFID) technology (microchips). Equine practitioners recommend that the RFID chip be implanted into the nuchal ligament in accordance with the 1996 FDA approval of that anatomical implantation site for horses.

The ESWG recommended that official identification be necessary when a horse is moved to any premises where a brand inspection, CVI, VS-127, or International CVI is required.

For more information on the ESWG, contact

About the Author

J. Amelita Facchiano

J. Amelita Facchiano has a passion for equine health, welfare, and identification. She chairs the U.S. Animal Health Association Animal Welfare Committee, and she serves on infectious diseases and ID committees for USAHA, the American Association of Equine Practitioners, and National Institute of Animal Agriculture. In addition, Facchiano chairs the Equine Species Working Group ID committee. She also wrote Horse Theft Prevention Handbook, available at

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