NAIS Goat Working Group

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Microchip (Biochip) Technology

The biochip technology was originally developed in 1983 for monitoring fisheries, its use now includes, over 300 zoos, over 80 government agencies in at least 20 countries, pets (everything from lizards to dogs), electronic "branding" of horses, monitoring lab animals, fisheries, endangered wildlife, automobiles, garment tracking, and  hazardous waste. To date, over 7 million animals have been "chipped". The major biochip companies are A.V.I.D. (American Veterinary Identification Devices), Trovan Identification Systems, and Destron-Fearing Corporation.

What is a microchip implant?

The current, in use, microchip implant system is actually a fairly simple device. Todayís, biochip implant is basically a small (micro) computer chip, inserted under the skin, for identification purposes. The biochip implant system consists of two components; a transponder and a reader or scanner. The transponder is the actual biochip implant. The biochip system is a radio frequency identification (RFID) system, using low-frequency radio signals to communicate between the biochip and reader. The reading range or activation range, between reader and biochip is small, normally between 2 and 12 inches.

Note, we are only examining the implanted "biochips", there are many other RFID microchip systems available (such as RFID tags).

The transponder: The transponder is the actual biochip implant. It is a passive transponder, meaning it contains no battery or energy of it's own. In comparison, an active transponder would provide itís own energy source, normally a small battery. Because the passive biochip contains no battery, or nothing to wear out, it has a very long life, up to 99 years, and no maintenance. Being passive, it's inactive until the reader activates it by sending it a low-power electrical charge. The reader "reads" or "scans" the implanted biochip and receives back data (in this case an identification number) from the biochip. The communication between biochip and reader is via low-frequency radio waves.

The biochip-transponder consists of four parts; computer microchip, antenna coil, capacitor and the glass capsule.



Computer Microchip: The microchip stores a unique identification number from 10 to 15 digits long. The storage capacity of the current microchips is limited, capable of storing only a single ID number. AVID (American Veterinary Identification Devices), says that their chips, using a nnn-nnn-nnn format, has the capability of over 70 trillion unique numbers. The unique ID number is "etched" or encoded via a laser onto the surface of the microchip before assembly. Once the number is encoded it is impossible to alter. The microchip also contains the electronic circuitry necessary to transmit the ID number to the "reader".

Antenna Coil: This is normally a simple, coil of copper wire around a ferrite or iron core. This tiny, primitive, radio antenna "receives and sends" signals from the reader or scanner.

Tuning Capacitor: The capacitor stores the small electrical charge (less than 1/1000 of a watt) sent by the reader or scanner, which activates the transponder. This "activation" allows the transponder to send back the ID number encoded in the computer chip. Because "radio waves" are utilized to communicate between the transponder and reader, the capacitor is "tuned" to the same frequency as the reader.

Glass Capsule: The glass capsule "houses" the microchip, antenna coil and capacitor. It is a small capsule, the smallest measuring 11 mm in length and 2 mm in diameter, about the size of an uncooked grain of rice. The capsule is made of biocompatible material such as soda lime glass. After assembly, the capsule is hermetically (air-tight) sealed, so no bodily fluids can touch the electronics inside. Because the glass is very smooth and susceptible to movement, a material such as a polypropylene polymer sheath is attached to one end of the capsule. This sheath provides a compatible surface which the bodily tissue fibers bond or interconnect, resulting in a permanent placement of the biochip.



The biochip is inserted into the subject with a hypodermic syringe. Injection is safe and simple, comparable to common vaccines. Anesthesia is not required nor recommended. In dogs and cats, the biochip is usually injected behind the neck between the shoulder blades. Trovan, Ltd., markets an implant, featuring a patented "zip quill", which you simply press in, no syringe is needed. According to AVID "Once implanted, the identity tag is virtually impossible to retrieve.  The number can never be altered."



Notice the ID number
in the LCD display.


The reader: The reader consists of an "exciter" coil which creates an electromagnetic field that, via radio signals, provides the necessary energy (less than 1/1000 of a watt) to "excite" or "activate" the implanted biochip. The reader also carries a receiving coil that receives the transmitted code or ID number sent back from the "activated" implanted biochip. This all takes place very fast, in milliseconds. The reader also contains the software and components to decode the received code and display the result in an LCD display. The reader can include a RS-232 port to attach a computer.

How it works
The reader generates a low-power, electromagnetic field, in this case via radio signals, which "activates" the implanted biochip. This "activation" enables the biochip to send the ID code back to the reader via radio signals. The reader amplifies the received code, converts it to digital format, decodes and displays the ID number on the reader's LCD display. The reader must normally be between 2 and 12 inches near the biochip to communicate. The reader and biochip can communicate through most materials, except metal.

Common Misconception About Biochip implants:

With a biochip they can track you or your petís location, anywhere in the world.

FALSE. The current biochip and reader has a maximum range of 12 inches. Petís are located by shelters, vets, etc. finding a lost pet and reading itís biochip. The technology does not exist to globally locate something as small as a biochip.
Information provided by Ervin Sanchez


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