THE Covid-19 pandemic has focused attention on preventing the spread of viruses like never before, in horses as well as in the human population. This rapid increase in awareness is proving to be an unlikely positive side-effect of Covid-19 for an Irish start-up company that helps farms monitor herd health.
Developed by Dr Kevin Corley, a specialist in equine internal medicine and critical care, EquiTrace is a new app that works with a horse’s microchip to identify, locate and track individual animals as they move around farms, sales, competitions or even across borders.
The EquiTrace app users can attach health notes to each horse’s record, which they can instantly share with the horse’s care team or connections. When used with the latest Merck Bio-Thermo chips and a suitable scanner, EquiTrace also checks, records and displays the horse’s temperature in just a few seconds. This unique combination is attracting interest from professionals around the world.
The EquiTrace app enables rapid identification of animals on the database with the swipe of a bluetooth enabled microchip scanner.
“We use this feature in our hospital, we can confirm a horses’ ID without having to go to the office and compare with the passport. The lameness gets his lameness exam and the castration gets, well, castrated” jokes Claire Hawkes, director and specialist equine surgeon at Sycamore Lodge Equine Hospital.
With almost everyone now having a smartphone, EquiTrace provides an accessible and easy to use solution for identifying horses, be it in hospitals, yards, sales or at the races.
The EquiTrace app is used in farms in Kentucky, Florida, UK , Italy and Sweden using both standard and Bio-Thermo microchips.
Many farms are using Bio-Thermo microchips for rapid and accurate temperature measuring, including Ramsey Farm in the USA, and Kinsale Stud and Chasemore Farm in the UK. EquiTrace has shown remarkable time savings in temperature-taking, with, for example, 64 foals scanned in 62 minutes and 70 yearlings in 40 minutes.
“Twice-daily temperature-taking of every animal on a farm becomes a realistic proposition, and as only one person is needed to scan the BioThermo chip, it can be done safely and while observing social distancing,” says Dr Corley. Horses can also be scanned in situations where rectal temperature-taking was previously impossible, such as on lorries, while flying, immediately after a race, and where animals are turned out.
The challenges in effective ‘track and trace’ programs have been highlighted by the current Covid 19 pandemic.
“We all know detecting a fever early is central to preventing the spread of viruses such as influenza and herpes virus,” says Dr Kevin Corley, EquiTrace’s founder.
“On a farm level, there’s an increasing desire to identify and isolate infected animals early.”
EquiTrace’s ability to facilitate the rapid detection of fever clusters and trace infected animals has led the United States Trotting Association to recommend that members use the app and chip combination on their 200,000+ horses.
Dr Alan Dorton of Ramsey Farm, the Kentucky birthplace of Kitten’s Joy, has been using EquiTrace on farm and to monitor 75 to 80 horses in training with five different trainers on seven different tracks.
“I’ve been extremely happy with the app and with the chips,” Dr Dorton says. “I use EquiTrace like a portable medical records – I enter each time I work on the horse; if it’s sick, if I give it vaccines, if I do any lab tests on it. You know it’s just easy, quick access to a lot of information.”
EquiTrace’s value as a management tool has been estimated to save the time of two staff per farm where standard microchips are used, as the app can ensure 100% accurate movement records and medical records as well as verifiable identification of all animals treated.
Uniquely, when a horse is scanned the system can be set to show its name or, if confidentiality is an issue, just the task or medication the animal needs. All data is securely held on the cloud, and can be accessed only by authorised users.
A video demonstration of EquiTrace in use, information about chips and scanners, and the opportunity to trial the app free for 30 days, are available on the EquiTrace website, www.equitrace.app. For more information call 045 258 011.