The Budgerigar Society Closed Rings – The Full Story

During 2018, Budgerigar Society members expressed concerns about the overall quality of closed rings being supplied by the new BS ring maker. There had also been an issue with the delivery of the 2018 rings being late. This culminated with the old supplier A C Hughes, selling their entire business to Avian ID.

A member on the General Council, who has an engineering background, undertook a study of the rings. The scope of the study included size tolerances, legibility, the number of rings having to be cut off birds, quality of plastic rings, quality of Hughes rings compared to the new rings from Avian ID. A detailed report was produced and in general the metal rings were in tolerance. There was an issue around the legibility of the metal rings after they had been on a bird for even a relatively short period. It was concluded that this was not aided by changes in legislation and the need to use a different paint (unleaded) for the infill. A similar legibility issue was also being experienced with plastic rings being supplied by Roxan.

Talks had taken place with Avian ID and they made a commitment to the BS to supply rings on time but asked for members to be encouraged to order early, to try and help alleviate the Christmas bottleneck for both manufacturing and the post.

Sunday 23 September 2018

At the September 2018 GC meeting, a Councillor suggested that we include in our contract with the plastic ring suppliers the need for a quality improvement process and a challenge for them to come up with solutions around lifespan legibility.

At the February 2019 GC Meeting it was advised that there was ‘ring chatter’ on social media and concerns were being expressed on material thickness and roughness in the bore of the rings as well as overall quality and delivery issues.

A discussion took place where it was confirmed that the rings are indeed harder to cut for removal.

Because of the continuing issues around rings, three councillors were selected and tasked to undertake a full engineering review of our closed rings and report back to the GC at the April 2019 meeting; each had an engineering/manufacturing background and were well qualified for the job.

Saturday, 27 April 2019

The three members that were tasked to undertake the engineering review presented a professional report on the quality and dimensions of the rings. It was proposed that, rather than increase the ring internal diameter, we should reduce the wall thickness. However, the ring maker had already been approached and had advised that the rings were indeed of an increased wall thickness than those previously supplied by Hughes. This was to assist with the depth of the ring number details and to increase paint fill. It was agreed that overall, the ring size is fine, and the given tolerances are minute – like the thickness of a hair. The wall thickness is the problem.

The most problematic area is when a member needs to cut a ring off. The finish of the rings can also be an issue with burrs being evidenced.  The material specification would also appear to be different to that used by Hughes. The colour budgerigar rings are superior in quality and thickness and the lettering is good.

It was agreed to formalise the three Councillors who has undertaken the study into a ring sub-group and to visit the ring makers Avian ID to take up our concerns and report back at the next GC meeting.

Saturday, 2 November 2019

The ring sub-group presented their visit report to the GC. The full report was published in the January/February 2020 edition of The Budgerigar.

With reference to cutting the rings off, Avian ID explained that the material used was slightly harder and thicker as they require a thicker wall to get the best stamping of the lettering etc. Ring cutters sold by Avian ID were tested by the sub-group who had no difficulty with them.  These are available from the BS Administrator for £17 including postage.

The main risk identified is that Avian ID is the only viable supplier in the UK, and we should have a back-up plan should they fail. The agreed back-up plan was to use the plastic ring maker, Roxan if there is a problem with Avian id and vice versa. If that does not work, we would place orders with an overseas ring maker for a maximum of one year only. It would mean we may have to dispense with the BS flat on the ring during that period and replace it with a unique identity mark.

It was also advised that the thickness of the ring wall would eventually reduce, as Avian ID were using up stock of the thicker rings but it would not be until the 2021 rings before we see a reduction in the thickness.

Avian ID also strongly requested the BS to consider amending the ring issue date, as the 1st January is the busiest time of year for them and the posting situation was not the best.

A lengthy debate ensued considering the Club Show date and other show dates, postal issues, and other factors. Many dates were discussed, and the consensus was to change the date to 1st December, which it was felt would not interfere with many existing shows. The orders by date would be moved forward to give a 6 week lead in time to be around 15th October which would still allow members to order at the Club Show and the Administrator to process the orders. Postage of rings would be on the last working day prior to 1st December.

This proposal forms a part of the recent Rule Change member’s vote.

Saturday, 08 February 2020

A letter had been received from Roxan, the plastic ring manufacturer explaining that they no longer wished to supply plastic rings to the Society. The decision was based on falling sales since they started supplying the Society in 2016 and the prohibitive costs involved in trialling new materials and colours. However, they did add that if higher sales could be guaranteed they would look again at providing a service.

A debate on options available to the Society took place. In anticipation of this, various ring suppliers at the recent World Show had been approached and all the plastic makers agreed that this year’s colour was not the best to laser cut and the best colours were black and dark blue. Also, the flat was a problem to produce as the tooling requirements were expensive and were not justified on the numbers we require.

It was agreed that we need to consider our default option to replace our plastic ring maker or find an alternative metal ring maker; investigate removing the flat on our rings and replace it with a unique mark. And so, the ring sub-group was reformed to investigate all these aspects, including alternative suppliers.

And Then The Coronavirus Happened

As a consequence of the Coronavirus and the need to follow Government guidelines, Avian ID closed its premises at the end of March this year – initially for a period of three weeks – but they did not reopen until 11th May 2020 – so six weeks in total.

To address this emergency situation and re-establish a supply of rings to members, alternative suppliers Coditech in Belgium and OESIEG in Germany were arranged. This has proved very successful and the Society is grateful to these two ring manufacturers for their help during this difficult period.

BS Emergency Ring Orders during the period 27 March to 7 May 2020

Country                                Ring Orders                        Rings Supplied

Belgium                99                                           4,206

Germany             125                                         4,901

In a strange way, this was a blessing in disguise as it gave the Society the opportunity to trial two alternative ring suppliers. It also allowed us to assess two of the recommendations of the ring sub-group – to dispense with the flat on the rings and to have them laser cut to improve overall quality. Of the two emergency suppliers Coditech was the only one to offer laser cut rings and so the two manufacturing alternatives were there to be seen. At the time, unknown to the Society, Avian ID also has the plant and equipment to produce laser cut rings. So, this means that we can continue with Avian ID as our main supplier and have a choice of alternatives should the need arise.

Two proposals were put to the GC. The first was the removal of the flat from our rings – the result 13 to 1 for. The second proposal was put to the GC at the first ever zoom virtual council meeting, when the vote was for either having Avian ID as our supplier of rings or to offer the membership a choice of either Avian ID or Coditech. The vote was 10 to 4 in favour of option 1.

There were several factors which swayed the vote in the way that it did. The first was postal concerns in that for bulk orders, Coditech usually post the rings in a single mail bag (which could amount to 1000 plus orders at our busiest time), for onward distribution to members, which gives two points of postage failure compared to the one from Avian ID, who post the rings directly to the member. This also increases delay, administration, and the cost of addressing and posting out individual envelopes. Secondly, there is a risk around exchange rates and the unknown consequences of Brexit when trading with Europe in the future. And finally, there is a preference to buy British and support a British company.

The Society has negotiated with Avian ID to pay the same price for the Avian ID laser rings as we currently pay, subject to a cost of living increase of £0.01 per ring to members for 2021. The GC has also seen samples of the Avian ID laser cut rings and they are to the same quality as the European laser cut rings.

In summary, for 2021 rings onward will be supplied by Avian ID. The rings will be laser cut and will have an identifying mark in place of the flat for both regular and colour budgerigar rings. Plastic rings will no longer be an option. The 2021 laser cut rings supplied by Avian ID will be reviewed to ensure the Society is happy with the quality. The GC has also agreed to increase the internal diameter of the ring with effect from 2021 to be in line with Confederation Ornithologique Mondiale (COM) dimensions. The internal diameter will increase from the existing specification and tolerance of 4.2mm to 4.4mm ideally 4.3mm, to 4.3mm to 4.5mm. The other specifications covering wall thickness (0.6mm to 0.9mm) and the ring wall height (3.85mm to 4.0 mm) remain unchanged.

Unfortunately, 2020 young birds could be wearing four variants of closed ring. However, all will be recognised as official BS rings and qualify for BS awards.

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