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    New Sheep Autotagger from Ritchey

A leading manufacturer and supplier of products to the agricultural, equine and pet market has launched a new automatic tagger for sheep to trade customers.

The Autotagger being used on farm to tag a sheep.

Ritchey Autotagger

The Ritchey Autotagger® takes 10 tags at once, which reduces tagging time considerably when compared with a standard applicator, explains Ritchey marketing manager, Pat Mangion. The Autotagger® applicator uses a staple gun action, which eliminates the need for a blade. This system is less stressful for livestock, and reduces the risk of operator injury. The product has been launched to trade customers, and will be on sale to farmers from 26 October 2009.

“The Autotagger® has performed exceptionally well in practical trials,” says Mrs Mangion, who is based at Ritchey’s head office in Masham, North Yorkshire. “Feedback from farmers who have tried and tested the product has been very positive.

“There have been few developments or innovations in sheep tagging, since it became compulsory. The vast majority of the 25million plus ministry tags purchased each year are put in using a manual applicator. Historically, the development of a safe, reliable and effective method of automation has been a difficult goal to achieve.

“A great deal of resource has been put into the design and development of the Autotagger®, with particular emphasis on speed and ease of loading,” she adds.

Although Ritchey has always been opposed to compulsory sheep EID, the company is committed to assisting farmers wherever possible. Therefore, in order to comply with new EID tagging regulations effective from 1st January 2010, a version of the Autotagger® that can handle electronic identification (EID) is under development.

“Compulsory EID will create more red tape, and increase the financial burden on sheep farmers, who are already struggling to cope after a sustained period of poor profitability. It was important for us to develop a system that is easy to use, as well as one that is priced as realistically as possible to the end user,” says Mrs Mangion.

The Autotagger® launch event took place on Thursday August 6, 2009 at the Black Sheep Brewery in Masham. The venue was chosen in line with Ritchey’s policy of supporting UK agriculture, wherever possible. The Brewery uses around 2,250 tonnes of UK grain each year, producing a range of cask ales and bottled beers.

“Masham is a relatively small country town, but it contains a large number of medium-sized businesses, many of which have strong connections to agriculture,” comments Mrs Mangion.

Producers interested in finding out more about the Autotagger® should get in touch with their local agricultural merchant for more details. Alternatively, Ritchey can be contacted direct on 01765 689541 or through the website,



Why is EID being introduced into the UK?
EID is being introduced through (EC) Council Regulation No. 21/2004, which is the manifest for establishing a system for the registration and identification of ovine and caprine animals in all member states. UK agricultural ministries will be responsible for the interpretation and introduction of this ruling, which applies to sheep and goats.

When is EID being introduced into the UK?
EID has already been taken up by a number of EU countries. Some farmers in the UK are using the system to give greater depth to managing farm data, leading to improved efficiencies and therefore cost savings in their livestock enterprises.
The new “EU Double Identification” rules, applicable from Jan 1st 2008, are being extended from 31st December 2009. Any animal born after that date and reaching six months of age (for intensively reared animals) and nine months of age (for extensively reared animals, not knowingly going for slaughter before twelve months of age) must be “Double Identified” with one visible tag and one means of EID – a transponder in either a tag or a bolus.

Will EID identity apply to all sheep and goats?
When the new legislation comes into force, it will be compulsory for sheep only (the UK does not have a large enough national flock of breeding goats for that part of the industry to have to comply) to have an EID transponder as one of its means of identification.

What does this mean for sheep and goat producers?
For all sheep farmers, any animals born after Dec 31st 2009 and not intended for slaughter within 12 months of age must be identified by two means - one of which must be an EID device - with both identifiers bearing the same individual identification number. These animals must be individually recorded in the holding register. However individual recording in the movement documents will not become mandatory until January 2011.

England has opted for a slaughter derogation, what will this mean after 31st Dec 2009?
EID transponders do not have to be used for sheep under twelve months intended for slaughter. This allows sheep under twelve months old intended for slaughter to be identified by a single UK ear tag, with no individual number required.

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