Virtually every individual involved in the livestock industry has used, or is familiar with, Ritchey Ear Tags. What the majority of these individuals do not recognize, is the story behind their livestock identification system. Ritchey Manufacturing Company, based out of Brighton, Colorado, has been improving livestock identification since Eugene Ritchey and his wife, Jo, started it in 1963 with the invention of the one piece, flexible tag with a permanent paint application. The Showtimes Magazine got the inside scoop from Gene and his son Craig Ritchey at the family owned and operated business, located just south of Brighton, Colorado.
According to Gene’s mother, he began inventing things before he could even crawl. In fact, he patented his first invention, hydraulics and welding loaders, at the young age of seventeen. Seeing how the use of the well-established hot brand was painful on livestock, Gene invented a less painful form of identification, freeze branding. The invention that has made him the best known throughout the livestock industry, however, is his new and improved ear tags. He created his first ear tags with the use of an old press and a mechanism that is comparable to a cookie cutter. Over forty long years later, Ritchey Manufacturing is still up and running with the help of Gene, and his children Grant, Craig, and Becci. Jo, who passed away in 2001, was very instrumental in the company's success. As Gene puts it, “We wouldn’t be where we are today without her.”
Ritchey achieved his success and outstanding reputation with his wife, Jo, by his side. Jo Ritchey was not only the vice president and owner of Ritchey Manufacturing, but she was also extremely active in the community. She was a member of the District 27J Board of Education, the community Drug and Alcohol Task Force, and the Brighton Chamber of Commerce board of directors. In 1987, Jo was named the Woman of the Year by the Brighton Business and Professional Women’s Association. Jo’s memory will always be a part of Ritchey Manufacturing.
The dual color engravable tag (a three layer tag allowing for the top layer to be engraved off to expose the idle layer as a permanent number) now has a selection of four styles and twelve tag/core color combinations.