ISO Scanners???

With the start of a new year, we begin a new theme for blogs. Looking back over the past years it does become a little more challenging to discover new things to discuss. Decided to talk about the different tools that can be used to assist us with our daily tasks as veterinarians. 

The first tool that we use quite frequently is an ISO microchip scanner. When microchips were introduced, each company had a chip and a scanner. That was clumsy because scanners would only read their companies chips or certain frequencies. Therefore, a chip may have been missed by a shelter or veterinary office unless they had multiple scanners. The International Standards Organization (ISO) approved and recommended a global standard for microchips. At that time, it was also decided that chips should have 15 numbers and no letters. They would be called universal chips and would be accepted worldwide. All chips would also be read with a forward and backward universal scanner. The ISO frequency is 134.2kHz. There are 125kHz and 128 kHz chips still implanted in dogs. They are not acceptable to travel worldwide but most universal scanners will detect the chip number if the pet is scanned properly. Earlier chips had a tendency to migrate once implanted. The new universal chips will not migrate. If scanning a pet be certain to scan over the entire body just in case they were chipped with an earlier version of microchips.

At this time no company has microchips that have GPS trackers on them. There are collars that come with tracking devices but as for a microchip that is implanted and trackable, that technology is not available. The size of the GPS tracker and its need to be charged does not allow for this to be implanted under the skin of an animal. The following link is one source that is available if you are interested in tracking your dog’s movements. There are usually costs associated with the tracking so be aware of that as you are considering this type of technology. 

https://tractive.com/en/pd/gps-tracker-dog

We can place microchips under the skin above the shoulder blades on any animal during a routine exam. The microchips we provide are from Home Again. Once the chip has been placed, we register the chip with Home Again to safeguard that information is available should the pet ever get lost. It is important that owners update this information should addresses or phone numbers change. We have had situations where a lost pet is brought to Winterset Veterinary Center and we find a microchip number but it is registered to a person in California. We know that animal did not walk from California to Iowa. Updating this information is as important as notifying the Post Office of an address change. In a few situations a pet has 2 microchips. Please register both chips. When a pet is scanned the first number it picks up is the one searched. No one suspects a second chip being present. Therefore you must register both numbers. This can happen from a pet being lost and a chip migrates so it is missed and when adopted out a new chip is placed. I also had a puppy that had 2 chips – both placed from the breeder. Apparently one puppy got two chips and another did not have one. It can happen so just make certain to register both chips if you find out your pet has more than one chip.

Many people fear that the microchip carries important information that could affect ones privacy. This is not true. The only information gathered from the chip reader is the 15 digit number and recently I was able to get the pets body temperature from the chip. That beats a rectal or ear thermometer any day! All personal information is kept confidential by the company that registered your pet’s microchip.

For under $50 a microchip can be placed and registered to safeguard your pet gets home should they ever decide to wander off. We have had dogs all sizes, ages, shapes, and colors, come to us as lost pets. The reunion happens quickly if a chip is discovered.  Without a chip, the distance a dog can travel in a short period of time makes that reunion much less likely. Statistics have shown that 15% of dog and cat owners will lose their pets. Dogs have a recovery rate of 93% but cats are only at 75%. Dogs seem to wander away more than once. Cats not wearing ID collars because they are considered “only indoors” is a big concern. In one study 41% of the owners who were searching for their lost cat reported the cat was indoor only.  Cats wearing a collar with an ID tag is a great method to improve reunion of cats with their owners. All pets should be microchipped as a way to improve a lost pet being reunited with their family.

Any microchip can be registered with the Home Again’s registry if you wish. You can register with multiple registry’s. American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) has a microchip lookup online site where you may search microchip numbers of found pets. If you have found a pet you are able to enter the chip number and it will give you a phone number to the proper site so a pet may get home safely. Again your personal information is protected and that of your pet. It is designed to reunite pets with their families as quickly as possible.

All pets should be microchipped if you want to assure they find their way home to you. One is never assured that even an indoor only cat or a tiny dog would not wander off someday. I once had a person ask my why their 8 year old neutered male boxer ran away. He had never done something like that in the past. This owner was worried but also confused about why? I had no answer for him and as you might guess there was no collar or chip with identification on it.

Place a microchip in your pet. Get ID on the collar of your pet. Start kittens with collars at a young age so you can have ID on them as well. Last week I saw a client that had her phone number embroidered on her cats’ break away collars. She is not leaving it to chance. She wants to make certain her cats get back home if they were ever to get lost.

If you have more questions about microchips feel free to contact me at Winterset Veterinary Center during regular business hours or the article below has some additional information about frequently asked questions.

https://www.avma.org/resources-tools/pet-owners/petcare/microchips-reunite-pets-families/microchipping-faq

Please do not let your pet go out unprotected. Their ability to get home depends on you. A microchip is a pet insurance that is priceless were you ever faced with a lost pet.

Months of Animal Blogs in 2021

We began the year with Alpaca/llama’s followed by mini horses, rabbits, cattle, goats, pigs, sheep, and chickens. I was wondering what I should do to round out the year. I decided that even though I do not do a lot of exotics, zoo, or marine species, this would be a good topic for the final month of 2021.

As veterinarians there is no species that we do not see. We may have preferences for certain species but after receiving your DVM degree and passing your state boards you can treat any and all mammals, birds, reptiles of land, water, and air. This carries with it a great responsibility to explore the variations between these species.

At Winterset Veterinary Center we do see a few exotic species for simple procedures on occasion. It may be a bird for wing or nail trims or a pocket pet for eye issues or a reptile for skin lesions We have had skunks, raccoon, possums, and wild birds brought in for certain procedures. An occasional snake or iguana has entered the practice for one reason or another. I will admit that I am more of a fur and feather veterinarian, but Dr. Jim has always been willing to see “All Creatures Great and Small”.

When these unusual creatures come in often their needs come down to basic husbandry issues. Cleanliness of their cages, temperatures that need to be consistent, water sources that are necessary for healthy skin, diets that are complete with the nutrients needed to remain healthy so they live a long life. Sometimes we have to offer the facts that lead to a difficult decision since some have a short lifespan to begin with. Sometimes we will refer if additional diagnostics are needed. The area of exotics has expanded in the last decade and more people are seeking out treatment for their special friends.

I know that my daughter would enjoy snuggling with a snake as much as a puppy. She said the way they will wrap themselves up around her and give the big hugs has always been a physical high for her.  She is the  one furthest to the right in this photo. A friend owns these and she has enjoyed their unique personalities.

I have watched exotic veterinarians on television handle the different species that enter their doors and have learned interesting facts. Since my practice days have mostly been in more rural areas we see less exotics. The neat thing is that regardless of what someone classifies as a pet we are given the opportunity to help them stay healthy and live longer lives. These pets mean as much to their owner as a puppy or kitten does to theirs. We must do everything possible to protect that client- patient- veterinarian relationship. As the song goes…

ALL THINGS BRIGHT AND BEAUTIFUL

ALL CREATURES GREAT AND SMALL

ALL THINGS WISE AND WONDERFUL

THE LORD GOD MADE THEM ALL!

As we say goodbye to 2021, Dr. Jim, our staff, and myself would like to thank you for entrusting us with your pets and livestock. We continue to strive to meet your expectations and retain your loyalty and trust. Winterset Veterinary Center cannot exist without our clients and their critters. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! See you in 2022!

CHICKENS… Pet or Livestock? Hobby or Business?

I would like to thank Ashley Kinney for November’s blog on CHICKENS… Pet or livestock? Hobby or Business? Ashley is currently a Senior at Winterset High School and is working at Winterset Veterinary Center after school and weekends. She has been showing chickens at the county and state fair for a number of years. We are so grateful for her contribution to our veterinary office and her willingness to write this blog and share her photos.

~ Thanks, Dr. Lonna

Photo by Teddi Yaeger

There are many different uses for chickens, one of the most popular usages being meat. Chickens grown for meat are known as broilers. The Cornish Cross is the most commercial of the broiler breeds. This breed is wide-set and built to grow fast. Cornish are ready to be harvested between 8-10 weeks of age and produce large amounts of meat. These birds are likely to have health issues due to their rapid growth, therefore it is not recommended to keep them past their harvesting age. Raising these birds in a pasture-like setting can help improve their overall health. Other broiler breeds include the Bresse, Barnyard crosses & other heritage breeds. These birds have fewer issues compared to the Cornish but take longer to grow and produce less meat. 

A Crossbred Rooster

Egg production is also a very popular use for chickens. White Leghorns are by far the best layers. They have thin bodies to make them food efficient and a distinct flopped-over crest. Leghorns are the ones that lay those large white eggs you can buy in the supermarket. Road Island Reds and Sex Links are also good layers and are desired in backyard flocks. Chickens can lay many different colors of eggs. The color of the egg a chicken lays can be told by their earlobe color. White earlobes indicate white eggs, red earlobes brown eggs, and blue earlobes blue eggs. There are some exceptions to this rule like the Silkie who has blue earlobes but lays cream-colored eggs. Laying hens do not need a rooster to lay an egg, but a rooster is required to produce fertilized eggs. 

A White Leghorn Hen

Dual purpose breeds are popular in homestead flocks. These chickens are bred to be utilized for both meat and eggs. Some of the most notable dual purpose breeds would be the Australorp, Orpingtons, and Barred Rocks. 

Hobby poultry have become increasingly popular in recent years. Hobby chickens are some of the wackiest of the chicken breeds. They can have interesting colors and patterns. Some have feathers growing out of their waddles (muffs), heads (topknots), and feet. Others have feathers that look like rabbit fur (silkies), feathers that curl up towards their heads (frizzles), and even a combination of both these features (sizzles). 

A Black Bearded Silkie Bantam Hen

Hobby chickens have a wide variety of combs. Some of their combs look like popcorn, pebbles, spike balls, or even a king’s crown. Sultans are a breed of chicken with the most of these characteristics. They are a small white bird with a “V” shaped comb, top knot, vulture hocks (feathers that extend down from the thigh), feathered feet, and an extra toe. Phoenix chickens are another impressive breed. They come in vivid colors and have tail feathers that never stop growing. 

This Black Sumatra Rooster has a tail similar to a Phoenix, however his will stop growing.

The largest of the chicken breeds include the Cochin, Brahma, and Jersey Giant. The smallest of the chicken breeds are known as Bantams.  They’re essentially the toy dogs of the chicken world who only grow to be half or less the size of a normal chicken. The smallest of the bantams include Serama Bantams, Sebright Bantams, and Game Bantams. 

A Dark Brahma Hen perched in a flower tree
(Photo by Carissa Gerwig)
A Golden Laced Sebright Bantam Rooster showing off to the ladies

Proper housing is a necessity when raising chickens. Chicken houses and runs need to be predator-proof which means unable to be dug into, squeezed into, climbed into, or easily broken into. It should also protect from weather such as snow, rain, and strong wind. The coop should be cleaned out regularly. Lastly, housing should have adequate space per bird (2 feet minimum inside the coop) and enough perch space for all the birds to perch comfortably. Chickens should be given more space if they don’t have access to free-range or a large run. When chickens are too crowded it can lead to cannibalism and health issues.

The flock is all perched up and ready to go to bed.

What a chicken eats depends on what it is used for. Broiler chickens are fed a high protein diet to help them grow fast. While laying hens need extra calcium to help them produce eggs. Laying feed and meat bird feed can be found in most farm stores. Chickens also need grit, especially if they don’t free range. Grit is a rough ground substance that helps aid in digestion and keeps a chicken’s crop healthy. With proper housing and nutrition, your chickens can live their lives happily. 

Some hens enjoy a watermelon slice as a snack on a hot summer day.
(Photo by Carissa Gerwig)

When it comes to showing chickens the Standard of Perfection is your best friend. The Standard of Perfection is a book containing all the recognized chicken breeds in the American Poultry Association and American Bantam Association. The book outlines nearly everything about the breed from the number of points on the crest to what angle the tail should be held. At some shows, the birds are brought up to a table and examined there. Other times, the birds are kept in their cage and the judge comes to them. At the show, chickens are divided into classes. In the large fowl category, chickens are divided up based on where they originated. While in the bantam category, they are divided up based on crest type. In each class, a reserve champion and grand champion are picked. Then all the reserve champions and grand champions are pooled together and the grand champion overall is picked. Judges judge based on the book, but personal preference can also play a role in their judging. To do well in a chicken show, your bird should follow the standard of perfection and be in good condition, meaning healthy and no feather damage. Taking good care of your chickens and knowing the Standard of Perfection is the key to success when showing poultry.

A Grey Japanese Bantam Hen poses with her Grand Champion Bantam and Overall Grand Champion trophies.

Further Information:

This website is loaded with information and allows you to read, talk, and ask questions about chickens from experienced poultry owners: 
https://www.backyardchickens.com/

This website contains information regarding show poultry: 
https://www.poultryshowcentral.com/

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