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Operation Bo Peep! shortlisted in British Farming Awards

A ground-breaking anti-theft device used by sheep famers to protect their flocks for rustlers has been shortlisted in this year’s British Farming Awards 2020.

TecTracer and Operation Bo Peep! – a unique forensic marking and tracing system that uses raddles to ingrain thousands of coded markers into a sheep’s fleece, allowing them to be easily identified – is a nominee in the Sheep Innovator of the Year category.

And such is the science behind the TecTracer nickel dots, that whilst being almost invisible to the naked eye, they and their unique identifying codes cannot be destroyed.

The product, which has been developed in York by a former senior Yorkshire police detective John Minary, an expert in forensics and crime prevention, is used by hill farmers across the UK to protect their flocks from rustlers.

The potential of Operation Bo Peep! to make a positive change to sheep farming has already been recognised by Police Scotland and the Scottish Partnership Against Rural Crime (SPARC).

There are approximately 25 million sheep in the UK and a high percentage of farmers losing between ten and 15 per cent of their flocks. Recent findings by NFU Mutual revealed that, behind Lincolnshire and Essex, North Yorkshire was one of three counties worst affected by the cost of rural crime.

John Minary said: “I’m absolutely thrilled that Operation Bo Peep! has been shortlisted in this year’s British Farming Awards.

“Being nominated is an accolade in its own right, and is a superb advert for the product and its crime prevention credentials. And with the judging panel coming from within the farming industry, it demonstrates the value of the product.

“Having developed a security system to protect heritage buildings from lead thieves, I was asked by North Yorkshire Police if it could be developed in the fight against rural crime.

“As a result, we created TecTracer and launched ‘Operation Bo-Peep!’ which utilises a combination of forensic technologies, applied to the fleece of sheep, and a database which will identify an animal even if its ear tags have been removed.

“Used in combination, the system creates a strong deterrent against theft, provides irrefutable evidence of ownership, is low cost and quickly pays for itself. Importantly, it works!

“The potential of Operation Bo Beep! to make a positive change to sheep farming has already been recognised by Police Scotland and the Scottish Partnership Against Rural Crime (SPARC).

“Where it is in use, it is cutting repeat victimisation to zero. This is not only saving farmers’ money, it also prevents duplication of efforts in having to reinvest in flocks and blood lines.

“It also has benefits for the wider community in helping to ensure food is sourced from safe and reliable farms.”

The British Farming Awards will be held online on the evening of Wednesday, October 21.

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