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Eminent cattle breeder John Moffitt dies aged 79; Farming.

Byline: Sam Wood

THE man regarded as one of the greatest agriculture entrepreneurs, influencer and cattle-breeder of the past century, John Edward Moffitt CBE DCL FRASE, of Stocksfield, Northumberland, died on May 6, aged 79.

Born on September 11, 1929, at Hunday Farm, near Workington, West Cumbria, to Edward and Alice Moffitt, he was one of three children.

He studied agriculture at Armstrong College, now the University of Newcastle upon Tyne.

The family moved to Peepy Farm, Stocksfield, in 1944 and retained the Hunday cattle-breeding prefix previously registered in 1937 with the then British Friesian Cattle Society; now Holstein UK.

On November 20, 1950, a cattle-breeding watershed arrived in the shape of a Society sale held at Harry Hobson's repository at Peterborough.

The sale consisted of 57 bulls and 13 heifers imported from Holland and had an estimated attendance of over 2,400 people.

Mr Moffitt purchased the third highest priced animal - one that would later transform the fortunes of not only the Moffitt family, but pedigree British black and white cattle breeders.

Only three bulls catalogued carried the famous Marius bloodline and the Moffitt family purchased a yearling bull calf known as Adema 88, for 7,000 guineas.

Over the next decade, Adema 88 progeny became the most sought after animals in the UK.

His show winning daughters achieved in excess of 71 Championships, 90 Reserve Championships, 491 First prizes and 126 First prize progeny groups on a national basis. The bull had eight prestigious First prize winners at the Royal Show from 1955 to 1965. By 1961, the success of Hunday bloodlines led to, along with several other leading fellow breeder directors, the formation of the UK'S first private AI company known as, Cattle Breeders Services. John served as secretary and general manager from 1961 until 1979 and that year, became chairman of the company, then trading as Premier Breeders Ltd.

In 1982, under his leadership, the company acquired a leading competitor, Select Friesian Services, and in 1988, established the UK's largest national cattle embryo-transfer business at the company's base at Vallum Farm, Northumberland.

John's vision for the future of UK cattle-breeding brought about the establishment of the world's first nucleus herd testing programme at Bays Leap Farm.

From 1981 onward, John's unique knowledge of agriculture, science and cattle-breeding resulted in his serving on numerous advisory committees at Edinburgh University, Newcastle University and the Institute of Genetics, Roslin, Edinburgh.

He was appointed chairman of the Milk Development Council, chairman of the National Animal Data Centre as well as acting as president of the Royal Association of British Dairy Farmers and British Cattle Breeders Club, respectively.

He was awarded a Fellowship of the Royal Agricultural Society of England (FRASE) in 1973 and was made a Commander of the British Empire (CBE) for Services to Agriculture in 1979. He received a Doctorate of Civil Law (DCL) from Newcastle University in 1985 and elected an Honorary Associate of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons in 1989. In 1994 he was awarded "International Person of The Year" at World Dairy Expo, Madison, USA.

He received the "Princess Royal Award" in 1995 from the Royal Association of British Dairy Farmers for Outstanding Achievement to the Dairy Industry.

In January 2008, John received the "Lifetime Achievement Award" from breed society, Holstein UK.

John Moffitt is survived by his wife Madge, son Peter and daughter, Sue, and six grand children.

A thanksgiving service for John is to be held at Hexham Abbey on Monday, May 19 at 1.30pm. It follows a private service and cremation.


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Title Annotation:Business
Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Date:May 14, 2008
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