Thirsk business’ upgrade for vital livestock tagging task

Chris Jeffrey, MD at  Green's Farm Supplies based at Thirsk Rural Business Centre and Auction Mart, has set up Lazer Tags and invested in a new machine to lazer numbers on to animal ear tags. Picture: Tony Johnson.
Chris Jeffrey, MD at Green's Farm Supplies based at Thirsk Rural Business Centre and Auction Mart, has set up Lazer Tags and invested in a new machine to lazer numbers on to animal ear tags. Picture: Tony Johnson.
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Pandemonium if it hasn’t already started will soon be under way at most lamb and calf producing farms as this year’s crop is born. It’s a time of little sleep, animal husbandry skills being tested to the max and also when even the most diligent of livestock men and women find that they can sometimes come up short in their preparation.

“Where’s the colostrum? Who used that thing last? Pass me a tag,” and when the answer comes back that more is needed of everything the first port of call is the local livestock supplies company.

Husband and wife team Chris and Kate Jeffery started Green’s Farm Supplies in 2004 when their business involved distributing animal health products from a small unit next to Northallerton livestock market. Today the business headquarters is at Thirsk Farmers Auction Mart and it has grown so that they are now providing everything from a tin of dog food to cattle crushes worth thousands of pounds.

One of their main lines particularly at this time of year and constant throughout is the provision of ear tags for livestock.

In the recent past Chris has been enraged over the time it has taken for printed ear tags to be available from their date of order. Chris and Kate’s ethos has always been to provide the best possible service to all customers and having fallen short, through no fault of their own, they have taken matters into their own hands. Next week sees the official launch of a new business within Green’s Farm Supplies called Lazer Tags, which follows a substantial investment in state-of-the-art laser printing equipment that will see tags printed and available within minutes.

“One of the major parts of our business is in providing animal identification equipment,” says Chris.

“Whether you keep goats, pigs, sheep, cattle or whatever, you are legally obliged to identify them with ear tags. Quite frankly for the last two years our ability to supply quickly has been extremely poor mainly due to companies we’d sourced from previously having been bought out and production having been moved away from the locality. We decided that we needed more control and that the only way to assure ourselves of having printed tags when farmers need them was to invest in our own facilities.

“The machine we’ve purchased means that a farmer can now come in to us at Thirsk have a cup of coffee and in a short time he or she can have their tags and away they go rather than having to wait two or three weeks. Having the kit ourselves means we can also offer our customers cost savings on such as replacement tags.

“Springtime is traditionally the time of year when farmers buy tags whether they are cattle or sheep farmers. We all know that many leave things until the last minute and often don’t realise they haven’t enough tags until they see just one or two left in a box when they need five or ten when dealing with cattle or hundreds when it is lambing time. We wanted to be in a position where we could meet the demand immediately and that’s what Lazer Tags is all about.

“This is a big cattle feeding area and when cattle lose tags it is important they have replacements as slaughter houses will reject cattle that don’t have the customary two tags. Quite often the farmer can be getting ready to take a wagonload to market the day before and realise several have them missing. I’d say on average around 15 per cent of cattle tags pop out at some stage through getting caught on such as gates or feed rings, so it’s important there is a ready supply of replacements.

“The other main cattle tag area for us is in new runs of tags for suckler herds.”

“Our other main market around this time of year is for the lambs that are born and will be going to slaughter within 12 months. All sheep must be EID identified, which means their tags need an electronic chip. This is where we score on service as the tags come to us ready to be printed and with a blank chip. We put the blank chip on a codifier and make sure that the codifier and printed tag details match up. The electronic chip is read by the relevant machine that reads tags at market and this means everything remains traceable.”

Chris and Kate Jeffery’s business at Thirsk Farmers Auction Mart is set to expand further next month with the launch of a new farm shop within their country store.

They explained: “We have been asked many times whether we would consider stocking a range of locally produced farmers’ products and by the end of April we should be open for business.

“We haven’t as yet decided on all produce that will be stocked but we are hoping to have a range of quality fresh and cooked meats available from Hartley’s in Tholthorpe who deal with a number of farmers who sell livestock here at the mart.

“We’re looking forward to it.”