Shearwell SET tags are light, durable and easy to apply. Our one-piece ear tag is popular around the world, with more than 80 million sold in the past five years alone.
The Shearwell SET tag is CSIP-approved. In trials its retention rate has proven second to none. Visual and electronic tags use the same Shearwell applicator.
The inner surfaces of the tag are smooth and rounded to avoid pinch points and reduce the risk of infection. Both RFID and visual tags are laser-etched for easy reading throughout the life of the animal.
The Shearwell SET tag was first developed in 1990. Since then many millions have been sold worldwide, of which some 16.7 million are electronic (EID) tags equipped with an RFID chip. In the UK, in the face of stiff competition from multiple tag vendors, the Shearwell SET tag has consistently outsold all others and is the tag of choice.
Scroll down and read on for more about our SET tag design, its benefits as well as some troubleshooting tips so you can get the best out of them.
The Shearwell SET tag was introduced to Canada in 2008. It is used worldwide, both with and without an RFID insert for electronic identification.
The correct applicator for SET tags have black jaw inserts. SET tags will not work properly in the green jaws of an old applicator!
The green jaw applicators were used in Canada from 2008 to 2014. If you are still using green jaws in your tag applicator you need to replace the green inserts with black inserts. SET tags will not fit in the green jaws of an old applicator!
Shearwell SET tags have become the tags of choice for so many farmers in so many countries for good reason. But we don't stand still even with a winning design. We've continued to work with the design, the material and with best tagging practice to help ensure you get the very best out of your tags.
Take a look through the list below and see if you are following the recommended and best practice to make your animals' tags work best for you.
A Shearwell tag applicator has two jaws that hold the tag in the correct position as you squeeze the handles together to tag a sheep. The top (round part) of the tag sits in a round space in one jaw, and the bottom (square part) of the tag is seated in the square space in the bottom jaw.
The top and bottom jaws of the applicator are replaceable so that you don't need to throw away your applicator because the tag jaws have changed. The old jaws are green; the new jaws are black.
You should receive a set of new black jaws for your tag applicator with your first order of SET tags. These jaws are inserts that are easy to install – remove the two screws that hold the green jaws in place, pop out the green inserts, and fit the new black inserts in their place. Secure the new black inserts with the two screws.
You must replace both the top and bottom jaws or tagging will be very difficult if not impossible!
1. Remove the top and bottom screws.
2. Pull out the green jaw inserts.
3. Slide the new black jaw inserts into place.
4. Replace the two screws. Your applicator is now ready for use.
Like medicine and feed, ear tags need to be stored correctly if you expect them to perform. Protect your SET tags from the weather– not broiling in the sun on the dash of the pickup; not forgotten out by the chute in a pail full of rain water or left to enjoy all four seasons of the year on a shelf in the lambing barn.
Correct storage for SET tags:
Each strip of SET tags is made in a mould. The plastic is a nylon compound, with additives for colour and laser marking. As part of the curing process, the plastic needs to absorb a small amount of moisture to become supple enough to use.
During application, the spike must be rigid enough to pierce the ear, but the tag must also be flexible enough to bend at the hinge. As the applicator is squeezed, the tip of the spike is forced through the hole at the other end of the tag. The hole must expand a little, and the spike must compress a little, as the tag is closed.
Problems can develop after manufacturing if the plastic gains or loses too much moisture. Correct storage instructions are supplied with every pack of tags. Tags stored in humid conditions can absorb too much moisture, become soft and flexible and more difficult to apply.
Tags allowed to dry out may become brittle and snap at the hinge instead of bending. Fortunately this is a cosmetic problem only - a tag in two pieces is still secure and will not fall out!
The good news is that all the stresses and strains on a tag only occur at application. A tag only needs to pierce, fold and flex once – the day it's snapped into an ear. After application, conditions don't matter - hot, cold, wet, dry - whatever the sheep ear endures the tag will too.
The base price of the SET tag is similar around the world but the currency exchange rate, import duties and shipping costs affect the wholesale price for suppliers. These are global forces beyond our control.
The biggest influence on the retail price of tags to sheep producers is their own industry governance. Most countries have a levy at the regional or national level for industry support – some at point of slaughter, some when sheep are moved, or some, like Canada, at sale of tags. Some countries subsidize the cost of tags to their farmers which keeps the tag price artificially low.
Yes – for best retention place tags in the top of the ear, close to the head, with room left for growth if the animal is young. The microchip should be inside the ear, not on top where it can be damaged. Tags that are put in upside down might also rotate in the ear, which can result in irritation and infection.
It's also the easiest way to tag for the spike to be on top of the ear, so the force of closing the applicator is pushing the spike down through the skin. If the spike is coming from the bottom up instead, then the skin is being pushed down over the spike which takes a lot more force. That will also put the microchip on the top of the ear instead of inside the ear where it is better protected.
Knowing how RFID tags work might help you understand what can go wrong.
RFID tags have no internal power source like a battery. The microchip in the tag is energized by the radio frequency of the tag reader. The electrical current is very small but just strong enough to power up the tag to transmit the EID number stored inside. This is one reason why the read range of RFID tags is relatively small – the tag and reader must be in close proximity for the tag to absorb enough energy to transfer its number.
Here are some ideas to consider if you have trouble reading a tag.
If you put a SET tag in an old applicator:
If you're still having problems please get in touch
Note: Tags that have broken into two pieces will not fall out. In fact, we recommend cutting tags at the hinge if they are restricting the growth of the ear. Always leave room for growth when tagging lambs or the ear can be damaged as it grows.
If you're still having problems please get in touch
If you’ve followed the other tips above and are still having problems with your tags then please get in touch with us. In the first instance, we suggest you contact your supplier.
Contact information for branch locations across Canada for Canadian Co-operative Wool Growers Limited (CCWG) and other distributors is given below.
Please feel to free to contact Shearwell directly at our headquarters in the UK if you still have concerns.