A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE DARTINGTON CATTLE BREEDING TRUST
The organisation, originally named the Dartington Hall Cattle Breeding Centre, had been promoted by Leonard Elmhirst and Sir George Hayter-Hames to foster development of the South Devon breed and licensed by MAFF to operate in 1944 as an AI service in South Devon and S E Cornwall. Dartington Hall CBC was subsequently registered as a charitable trust in 1948.
Initially the main business and bull stud was based at Yarner, near Dartington village. The site is now known as Beacon Park. There followed sub centres being opened up at Tavistock and Liskeard. In the mid-1950s the main office was moved across the road into a new building, and the stud was moved to a bigger site at Venton at nearby Tigley.
The AI business flourished and achieved its greatest success financially in the mid-1970s. Surplus funds from trading were invested with stockbrokers and the investments flourished too. In 1972 an alliance was formed with other UK AI organisations under the marketing name of Supersires. Together they sourced superior bovine semen from several European countries. Naturally with financial success came competition from other providers. In particular Genus Breeding plc, formerly the Milk Marketing Board, took an ever increasing share of the UK AI and semen selling market.
To compete and to procure a supply of high quality semen Dartington Cattle Breeding Centre jointly with Sersia France formed a limited company Supersires Ltd. in 1998; they bought the larger Somerset Cattle Breeding Centre based at Ilminster, from Horlicks Farms and Dairies Ltd. The Dartington office remained the heart of the enlarged business and continued operating the newly acquired sub centres in Somerset. After Peter Stewart retired Roger Smith took over as General Manager. He with Sersia executives instituted monthly management meetings at Yatton, near Bristol. The business struggled against ever pressing competition. It sold its Venton stud of about 30 bulls in 2001, and on the advice of the Advisory Committee in 2004 Trustees decided to sell the company to Genus Breeding plc, the dominant player in the UK AI business.
What was left was the registered charitable trust with money and objects to sponsor financially advances in cattle breeding and animal welfare, education and research and later on the making of capital grants to new farmers.
By 2011 the Trust had about £2.5M invested in shares and the small freehold property of about 2 acres with offices at Yarner, Dun Cross, Dartington. The Trust was then managed by 6 trustees of a variety of different but related backgrounds. They met quarterly.
Now, the Trust has 7 Trustees and continues to meet on a quarterly basis.
BOARD OF TRUSTEES
The Trust’s objectives include improving the quality and health of livestock in Great Britain for the benefit of the public by furthering research; supporting new entrants to livestock farming and others developing their livestock enterprises; and otherwise furthering education in livestock breeding, animal husbandry and related subjects.