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Coggins Testing

Equine Infectious Anemia (EIA) is a deadly viral disease in which there is no cure or vaccine.   EIA is spread from horse to horse by horseflies, so this disease can occur anywhere horseflies live.  Once a horsefly bites an infected horse and then bites a healthy horse, the disease is transmitted.   To be sure a horse is not a carrier a simple test is performed, the EIA (coggins) test.

All horses domiciled within the state of Louisiana shall be maintained with a negative current official test for Equine Infectious Anemia (EIA).  A negative current official test is described as a negative result of a test conducted by a state approved lab that was performed not more than 12 months earlier.   Written proof of a negative current official test shall be made available, at any time, upon request by an authorized representative of the Livestock Sanitary Board.   A coggins test is often needed to take your horse to shows or across state lines.

Also, beginning February 1, 1994, all horses prior to an official test for EIA shall be individually and permanently identified by one of the following means:

    1. An implanted electronic microchip

The microchip is a small device about the size of a piece of long grain rice. It consists of a small transmitter embedded in medical grade glass, sterilized and packaged. It is injected into the horse’s neck through a needle just like a vaccination. To identify the horse, an electronic reader is passed over the neck and a 10 or 15 digit number instantly appears on the reader’s screen.  They are guaranteed to function for 25 years (and that is only because there are no chips more than 25 years old, so longevity testing is still ongoing).   Implanting the microchip only takes a minute or two and can be done at the same time as vaccinations or any other routine appointment.

    1. Lip tattoo

A lip tattoo is just what its name implies–a tattoo on a horse’s lip. It is comprised of letters and numbers and is placed on the inside of the horse’s upper lip. A majority of state racing commissions have enacted rules requiring a horse to be tattoo-branded prior to entry in a race.  Lip tattoos begin to wear off after four to five years and will continue to fade over time.

    1. Freeze brand or hot brand

A freeze brand is made by placing an intensely cold iron on the skin for a correct amount of time and pressure.   The intense cold destroys the color factor of the hair, resulting in permanent white hair growth.  If the iron is held on for a longer period of time, the cold temperature destroys the growth factor as well, so no hair grows at all.  On a light colored horse this bald brand is desirable because the dark skin with no hair shows up better than a white brand.
Similar to the bald brand we previously mentioned, a hot brand uses intense heat to produce the same result. It is recognizable because it destroys hair follicles located under several layers of skin and leaves a permanent bald scar on the hide of the animal. The secret to successful hot branding is destroying hair follicles without burning through the hide. Although hot branding has been used for years, recent studies have shown that hot brands have been known to cause 3rd degree burns and has been argued as a cruel practice.
A simple brand design, whether using cold or heat, is encouraged as it will cause less stress to the animal and be easier to read.

Should your horse not have 1 of the required permanent forms of identification, we have microchips available for purchase.     Dr. Dac does offer freeze branding services but you must provide your own brand and the branding must be done prior to or same day as the EIA test.



Maurice Veterinary Clinic is pleased to offer its customers IN HOUSE coggins testing.   We perform EIA (coggins) tests on Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings.   If needed, EIA tests can be completed in as little as two hours however, restrictions and additional charges will apply.