A Closer Look At: Monitoring Equine Health With EquiTrace – Horse Racing News

A microchip scanner at work. Photo courtesy EquiTrace

In this series, we ask some of the equine health questions you’ve wondered about but were too afraid to ask. Today, Dr. Marta LaColla, who specializes in companion animal and equine identification for Merck Animal Health, and Dr. Kevin Corley, EquiTrace founder, tell us more about EquiTrace, which is an app that works with equine microchips to assist with health and location monitoring.

– What is EquiTrace and how does it work with the Merck Animal Health Bio-Thermo microchip? Can one be used without the other?

Dr. LaColla: EquiTrace® is a complete monitoring and recording system for a veterinary practice or farm through a horse health app on iOS or Android mobile devices. It works with the Bio-Thermo® microchips by connecting with the Global Pocket Reader™ Plus and storing the temperature data in the horse’s record. The horse’s temperature is automatically sent to the EquiTrace app through a Bluetooth connection. It also graphs the microchip temperatures and creates averages for the morning and evening from all of the data, making it easy to identify variations for that horse. Information is shared instantly with all members of the team that were given access to the farm’s data in the app.

EquiTrace can be used with other 15-digit ISO microchips but will not have the temperature-data functionality. Bio-Thermo microchips can be used without the EquiTrace app since temperature is displayed directly on the reader. The advantage of using them together is that temperatures from each horse will be displayed and shown in a graph. Average temperatures will also be calculated for each horse, making it easier to identify variations.

– Lots of people don’t realize that microchips themselves don’t allow for GPS data collection. Can you explain how the EquiTrace app allows for this function?

Dr. LaColla: When using the EquiTrace app connected to the scanner, the app will record where the horse was last scanned (works with all the ISO microchips). This function can easily be turned off within the EquiTrace app if recording of the horse’s GPS location is not needed or desired.

– Can temperature be read from the microchip remotely, or does the microchip reader have to be used to record this?

Dr. LaColla: A manual scan of the microchip is required to read the Bio-Thermo microchip temperature. If the reader is connected to the EquiTrace app, the temperature is automatically uploaded to the app. That temperature information will then be visible to all authorized team members with access to the farm’s data.

– How does temperature read from the microchip compare to the temperature taken rectally — are we looking at the same range of ‘normal’?

Dr. LaColla: The Bio-Thermo microchip temperatures present values ​​related to the implantation site in the nuchal ligament on the left side of the neck, halfway between the poll and withers. The temperature measured in this region will depend on blood flow, tissue conduction, local metabolism and the thermal exchanges between core and surrounding environment. Generally, due to these factors, microchip temperatures will be lower than rectal temperatures and tend to follow a similar pattern. That is why EquiTrace is such a powerful tool. It allows caretakers to easily monitor temperature from each horse and compare it to that individual’s temperature trend. This allows early identification of atypical values, alerting caretakers to evaluate that horse more closely.

– Obviously, the location function available through the EquiTrace app has a lot of applications for equine welfare; was there a particular problem or challenge that you wanted to solve by including this?

Dr. Corley: This feature can be used in a number of ways. Anonymized data can be used together with the temperature feature to warn of an unusual cluster of temperatures in a particular locale. This can be used as an early warning sign for diseases such as EHV-1, without identifying individual premises or horses involved.

A rescue charity in Ireland is using the feature in two ways – firstly to keep a record of where horses are on their extensive property. Simply scanning the horse’s microchip as they turn them out to each field or paddock provides a record of their location. Secondly, they have had an issue with a small number of rehomed horses being sold or loaned without their permission. Asking clients to regularly scan rehomed horses (which remain on the charity’s property) removes the need for regular inspections to ensure the horses are where they are supposed to be. This function can be turned off within the EquiTrace app if recording of the horse’s GPS location is not needed or desired.

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