By Cynthia Wycliff, Harlequin Dairy Goats
Okay, so you’ve heard the good news that ADGA is now accepting microchips as backup identification for goats and you’d like to start microchipping your own herd. The first step is to choose a vendor that sells the USDA 840 chip, which is the only chip that ADGA is accepting going forward (older styles of chip that were previously used are still being accepted in goats that were chipped prior to this rule going into effect). You will need both a scrapies herd number and a premise ID number and the two numbers will need to be linked in the national database. This part sounds intimidating, but usually only takes a 5-minute phone call to sort out and the microchip vendor can give you the correct number to call for your state to get it done before you order.
Once you have your scrapies numbers on file with the vendor, you are ready to order. We went with the mini-chip and mini-needle for our goats. Be sure to order a chip reader with your first batch of chips. This will come in handy for verifying that the chips are in place and reading correctly after you insert them and you will need to carry it with you whenever you travel with your goats so that the chips can be read, if needed, at shows or during transport. The reader we purchased is fairly small and fits nicely inside the front pocket of our herdbook with our registration paperwork so that’s where we keep it when not in use.
Once your chips arrive, you are ready to insert them and add the numbers to the goats’ registration papers. If the goat has not already been registered, you just include the microchip number and location on the registration application (paper or online). If the goat has already been registered, you will need to mail in the existing registration papers and pay the fee to have them edited and reprinted. Each microchip comes individually packaged with convenient stickers that have the microchip number on them so you can simply stick the sticker onto the registration paper near the tattoo and include a note telling ADGA which location you use when placing the chip before mailing the papers in to be updated.The alternative to this is to place the chip in the skin webbing off to the sides of the tail, and this is what we have been doing lately. This last pic goes with the group about injecting in the center of the tail.
ADGA currently accepts two locations for chip placement. The first is at the base of the ear and the second is the underside of the tail. We chose to place our microchips in the tail location for our herd so that is what I’ll be demonstrating here, but the process is the same, regardless of location.
First, gather your supplies. I like to bring out a bottle of rubbing alcohol, some baby wipes or paper towels, and the microchips. For each goat, I write their name and left ear tattoo number on the outside of the package of the chip I plan to use so I can keep track. I also leave the sticker sheet inside the package so when I go to register the goat later I can easily pick up the package, see the goat name and tattoo on the outside and the microchip number on the inside and be certain that I am recording the right microchip number for each goat.
When handling the microchip needle, keep the cap on until you are ready to insert the chip and, once the cap is off, always keep the needle pointing upward as the large diameter of the needle means that the microchip can fall out if it is pointed downward.
I like to clip the goat to a fence by their collar and then straddle their hips while facing backwards so that I can hold their rump still between my knees. Then, I clean the skin under their tail thoroughly with a baby wipe or paper towel soaked in rubbing alcohol.
Keep in mind that microchips are considered as a back-up form of identification at this time and you will still need to apply tattoos as well for now. The current rules allow the microchip to be used if there is evidence that the animal was tattooed at some point, but the tattoo cannot be read. If the tattoo CAN be read, but does not match the tattoo on the animal’s registration papers, or there is no evidence that the animal was ever tattooed, the microchip won’t be accepted.