Equine ID Group Meets, Elects New Chairmen

The Equine Species Working Group (ESWG) had a meeting on August 21st, in conjunction with the National Institute of Animal Agriculture's 2006 ID Info Expo.

During this meeting, the ESWG gave subcommittee updates, discussed ESWG membership and welcomed its newest member, Brian Quinsey from the Friesian Horse Association of North America. In the afternoon, Neil Hammerschmidt of the USDA gave the group a NAIS progress report and discussed AIN distribution and allocation. Dr. Carl Heckendorf gave a presentation on the Colorado pilot project, discussing some of the projects findings with microchipping, readers, passports and capturing movements. This was followed with a presentation from Dr. Kevin Owen who spoke about the Bio-Thermal 134.2 kHz RFID and the different projects being done to test the product.

Following the presentations, the ESWG spoke about communication strategies, and then voted upon new ESWG Chairmen to replace Amy Mann, Dan Fick, and Marvin Beeman after their much appreciated two year run as co-chairs. The newly appointed ESWG Chairmen are Jim Morehead, DVM, of the American Association of Equine Practitioners, and Billy Smith, PhD, of the American Quarter Horse Association.

Morehead, a graduate of the University of Missouri-Columbia College of Veterinary Medicine, practiced in Edmond, Okla., for two years at a large referral hospital prior to moving to Lexington, Ky., where he worked at another prominent referral hospital for five years. In 1991, he started his own practice, Equine Medical Associates, PSC which now has five veterinarians full-time and three part-time.

In addition, he became the resident veterinarian at Three Chimneys Farm in Midway, Ky., in 1999. Morehead is the past president of Kentucky Association of Equine Practitioners and is a member of the American Association of Equine Practitioners.

Smith is the Executive Director of Information Technology for the American Quarter Horse Association. He joined AQHA in 1999 after 10 years as a university professor, business consultant, speaker and writer. He graduated from the University of North Texas with degrees in Journalism and Business in 1984. He completed master's degrees in Public Relations and Education from Texas Tech University in 1989 and completed a doctorate of education from Texas Tech in 1999. Smith worked as a journalist for various publications after graduating from college, including freelance assignments in El Salvador, Nicaragua and Honduras.

Prior to this ESWG meeting, the group submitted a report and updated recommendations to the NAIS Subcommittee of the Secretary of Agriculture's Advisory Committee on Foreign Animal and Poultry Diseases. One major focus was on movement reporting. The ESWG recommended that no equine movements be reported. It was recommended that the horse industry continue to rely on the current regulatory mechanisms in place for horses that move, particularly brand inspections, Certificates of Veterinary Inspection (CVI), VS-127 Permits or International CVIs.

These regulatory documents are kept and maintained in either the state/country of origin, the state/country of destination or both and each contain information as to the horse's point of origin and its point of destination. In the event of a disease concern, federal and state animal health officials would be able to access that information. The ESWG feels that these current practices will capture the movements of those horses at the greatest risk of being exposed to and/or spreading disease. And most importantly, with the exception of the one-time official identification of the horse, these are practices currently being met by horse owners who move their horses and therefore will not require the establishment of new business practices in the industry.

The ESWG also recommended that official identification is necessary when a horse is transported to any premises where a brand inspection, CVI, VS 127 permit, or International Certificate of Veterinary Inspection is required.

If you choose to utilize RFID for official identification, the ESWG recommends the use of the ISO/ANSI compatible RFID chip (11784/85, 134.2 kHz), implanted in the nuchal ligament on the left side, in the middle third of the neck, halfway between the ears and the withers.

For more information on the ESWG and to view the recently submitted recommendations, please visit www.equinespeciesworkinggroup.com.  

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