‘Project to be scaled up after analysing the success of pilot project’

In a pilot project to maintain and monitor profiles of sheep and goat easily, the Tamil Nadu Veterinary and Animal Sciences University (Tanuvas) has started tagging sheep at the Mecheri Sheep Research Station in Salem with microchips, M. Babu, Director of the varsity’s Centre for Animal Production Studies, told The Hindu, after its launch here recently.

Microchip tagging was introduced as an innovative method and was being done as part of the ongoing silver jubilee celebration of the varsity. The chips, measuring 11.5 mm, were injected beneath the skin of the animal’s neck, he said. “In Tamil Nadu, microchips are used for maintaining records of pets. This is the first time microchips are fitted to maintain records of animals in a government institution.”

Each microchip would have a unique alpha numeric number. “Details such as an animal’s parentage, birth weight and its weight gaining progress in each stage and vaccination history would be linked with the number,” Dr. Babu said. When an animal passed through the sensor, its history would be displayed on the computer monitor. Staff could update information on that animal in an easy manner and one could create a database of animals for research projects. “After analysing the success of the pilot project, we will introduce it in all the other research stations that are attached to Tanuvas,” he said.

Head of the research station in Mecheri N. Murali said that 50 sheep had been fitted with microchips. “The remaining 884 sheep and goat here would be fitted with the microchips in a phased manner. The censors can read the microchips from a distance of up to one metre.” R. Balaji, director of the company that manufactures the chip, said the cost of a chip was around Rs. 65 to Rs. 125 and was based on the volume needed.