There have been numerous discussions within the goat industry regarding the best method of animal identification. There are currently no legal requirements in New Zealand to tag sheep or goats. However, as the industry grows, the sector will require a formal identification system in order to maintain biosecurity and food safety standards.
NAIT (National Animal Identification and Tracing) was established in New Zealand in 2012 for farmers and persons in charge of animals (PICA), and requires all cattle and deer to be tagged and registered within 180 days of birth or prior to being moved off farm.
The NAIT system relies heavily on the cooperation of farmers and PICA recording accurate information and ensuring they fulfil their legal requirements. There have been concerns about NAIT tags readability and retention, with criticism surrounding tags being easily torn from animals’ ears, especially during transport. Goats’ ears are particularly thin and sensitive, compared to those of cows and sheep. Tag use can often leave goats’ ears disfigured. Neck bands and collars are also popular among goat farmers, but this requires caution and supervision due to the risk of entanglement.
The New Zealand Dairy Goat Breeders Association (NZDGBA), which manages a goat registry, and promotes the use of microchipping and/or ear tattooing for identification purposes, has been researching microchipping options that are suitable for goats. In the process, the NZDGBA came across a New Zealand based company, Swissplus ID, which designs and manufactures Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology for identifying and tracking animals. In 2014, Swiss ID introduced the world’s first Bio Polymeric Injectable RFID device, which it developed with The National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA) to monitor fish populations in New Zealand waters.
New technologies such as the bio polymer microchip provide farmers with a more effective alternative to ear tagging in production animals. The inner workings of these microchips are much larger and therefore provide a strong signal back to the reader. They can be inserted into the tail or the base of the ear. This ensures a clear reading as the animals enter the milking platform, which gives farmers the ability to monitor the milk production of each individual animal.
The polymeric microchip casing material is attached, and adheres to surrounding tissue to prevent migration. The microchip has a bullet shape and blunt back end reducing the chance of it being aspirated out of the needle hole. This can be a problem with bio glass microchips which, being the same shape front and rear (like a grain of rice), can work their way out of the needle hole during insertion. Polymeric microchips are also more robust and able to withstand knocks and bangs. This can be a problem when microchips are inserted into a bony area like the tail web.
If you are interested to learn more about Swissplus ID and their microchips:
Contact: Ian Denby, Swissplus ID
Swissplus ID microchips are available for purchase through their website:
The NZDGBA offers its members volume pricing and is also able to supply smaller amounts of microchips. Email Paula Levett for more information at email@example.com or visit their website www.nzdgba.co.nz to download a membership form.
Send us your personal experiences and thoughts on microchipping to firstname.lastname@example.org