Merck Animal Health and USTA partnership advances equine health through identification

USTA partnered with Merck Animal Health in 2018 to become the first horse registry to formally incorporate temperature scanning into their microchip identification program. USTA is one of the largest users of Merck Animal Health’s Bio-Thermo microchips.

“USTA has become a beacon to the industry by embracing this unique identification technology to advance health and well-being in Standardbred racing,” says Ron McDaniel, director of U.S. equine sales, Merck Animal Health. “The partnership extends our unconditional and shared commitment to the horse. We are excited to recognize what has been accomplished in four short years and even more excited for what lies ahead.”

The USTA embraced the Bio-Thermo microchip because of its ability to serve not only as a dependable means of identification but also as an effective way for caretakers to record the horse’s body temperature at the scan of a microchip reader. This saves a significant amount of time over rectal thermometers and helps identify febrile horses sooner.

“We remain firm on the declaration that Bio-Thermo microchipping continues to provide the safest, most efficient and reliable means of identification that is also the most advantageous to the horse,” says TC Lane, chief operating officer, USTA. “This brings USTA in line with the international standard for equine identification. As an industry, we recognize that microchip technology is here to stay and view it as a win-win for our Standardbreds.”

Winbak Farm, one of the largest Standardbred breeding farms in the industry, has utilized the temperature-sensing microchip technology to keep track of its annual crop of more than 330 foals. Bio-Thermo microchips measure a horse’s temperature in seconds within one-tenth of a degree.[1] With rectal thermometer readings estimated to take at least three minutes per horse, this saves Winbak Farm more than 16 hours of labor.

“The microchips definitely help with taking temperatures,” says farm manager Jack Burke. “It’s much quicker and safer than doing it rectally.”

 Next-level microchipping and management

Coupling the Bio-Thermo microchip with the new EquiTrace® horse health management app automates daily temperature charting and consolidates equine health record keeping — from managing mare ovulation status and logging therapeutic medications to estimating withdrawal times prior to race day. The USTA and its members are helping define the use cases and user experience for this innovative combination of the Bio-Thermo microchip and the app.

“I’m also excited about the EquiTrace technology, a tool that Winbak would love to integrate into its current systems,” added Burke. “The ability to pull up a horse’s complete history and add procedures in the field from your phone seems like something that anyone could get excited about.”

“Oftentimes, leading change in an industry that has a deep-rooted foundation is met with resistance,” says Lane. “As an equine organization representing roughly 18,000 members throughout the U.S., the USTA continues to take great pride in our ability to advance equine health and identification processes so they are executed in the most superior manner possible.”

The Bio-Thermo microchip provides a 15-digit identification number, is about the size of a grain of rice, will not wear out and lasts the life of the horse. Both the EquiTrace app and Bio-Thermo microchips work with the Global Pocket Reader Plus™ and the HomeAgain® UWSR+ microchip readers. The secure, cloud-based, subscription-based EquiTrace app is available to download at the App Store  or Google Play.

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