Cattle Breeding Centre
Records of the Dartington Hall Cattle Breeding Centre (DHCBC). The centre was established and financed by Leonard Elmhirst and George Hayter-Hames and licensed by the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries. It provided an artificial insemination service for cattle in certain areas of Devon and Cornwall. Profits from the service were used for research into cattle breeding problems. DHBRC records in this series were gathered by Peter Sutcliffe through his role as chairman of the centre, and by Leonard Elmhirst through his role as promoter. Records document the establishment, development, and activities of the DHCBC, and its branches in South-East Cornwall, Liskeard, and Tavistock, and at the Progeny Testing Station.
Subjects include: Thomas Scott's survey of the South Devon breed of dual-purpose cattle; the South Devon Bull Recording Scheme; the first experiment in England with the artificial impregnation of cattle, carried out on the Dartington Estate and the future development of the scheme; a Central Advisory Committee on Artificial Insemination; the purchase, AI service, particulars, tests, and use of semen charges, and the sale of bulls; an International Congress of Physiology and Pathology of Animal Reproduction and of Artificial Insemination; meetings of the DHCBC Board of Management; DHCBC investments; infertility in cattle; the establishment and development of a Progeny Testing Station; and the National Agricultural Advisory Service.
Records consist of printed pamphlets; publications; minutes and agendas; handwritten notes; memoranda; photographs; press cuttings; milk records, reports of bulls and daughters; plans; questionnaires; deeds of trust; veterinary reports; insemination records and reports; financial records; agreements between cattle breeders and the DHCBC; publicity records; and bull directories.
In 1932, Leonard Elmhirst and J R Currie formed the first proven bull society in Britain called the South Devon Bull Breeders Association and with the aid of Thomas Scott's complete survey of the milk recorded animals of the breed, established the South Devon Bull Recording Scheme. One of the difficulties encountered by the South Devon Bull Breeders Association was the danger of contagious abortion arising from the use of infected cows and artificial insemination was a means of overcoming this. Leonard Elmhirst had seen artificial insemination in operation in the USSR in 1932, and further information was obtained from similar experiments in the USA and at the School of Agriculture, Cambridge. In 1933 Leonard Elmhirst met with geneticists J Hammond, A Walton, and J Edwards resulting in J Edwards and A Walton coming to Dartington Hall to advise in the inpregnation of the first 3 cows at Old Parsonage Farm. In 1937, this was repeated on a larger scale and in 1938, a pilot service scheme was started with the aid of B Rossiter, a farmer from Kingsbridge.
In 1943, Leonard Elmhirst and George Hayter-Hames agreed to promote and finance an AI Centre, later termed the Cattle Breeding Centre. They provided 2 bulls, equipment including a bulling crate, collecting and inseminating appliances, examination, storage, and sterilizing equipment, and initiated and organised the field work of the scheme. In 1944 an insemination service centre was started, licensed by the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries and was initially financed by the two promoters, with premises and land for bull pens provided by the Dartington Hall Trustees. Sub-centres were established to provide an artificial insemination service to cover a larger area of South Devon and South-East Cornwall for all the principle breeds of cattle in South Cornwall, Liskeard (1946) and Tavistock (1947).
In 1948, the Centre was established as a Trust whose objects included: the provision of AI service for cattle in certain areas of Devon and Cornwall; investigation and research into problems of breeding cattle; genetic applications in breeding programmes; the means of controlling disease affecting livestock; and promoting education in the field of live stock breeding and animal husbandry. Initially the board of management consisted of Peter Sutcliffe, J R Currie, F U Crook, R H Gillard, D L W Mathews, and F Gent. Later additions to the Board included: B R Cundy, R Hoare, P Henwood, N Ross, F Viggers, P Blowey, and W Stanlake. J A Dall was the first veterinary surgeon.
The objects of the Cattle Breeding Centre were to maintain a number of specially selected pedigree sires of the South Devon breed under good conditions of management and with special precautions for preventing the spread of disease; provide participating herd owners with full particulars of bulls in use; collect semen and arrange for the insemination of approved cows or heifers. Later, in addition to supplying semen from the South Devon breed kept at the centre, semen was also made available for the following breeds: Ayrshire, Friesian, Guernsey, Shorthorn, North Devon, Jersey and Red Poll.
Information for Researchers
All papers belonging to The Dartington Hall Trust Archive (with the exclusion of Dartington Hall School pupils individual records) are held at the Devon Record Office. All enquiries relating to research should be made to Devon Records Office, Great Moor House, Bittern Road, Sowton, Exeter, Devon EX2 7NL
+44 (0)1392 384253
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The following requests should be made direct to the Archives & Records at The Dartington Hall Trust as shown below:
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