< A Historical account of GB's Dairy Cattle Breeding Industry book 'A Bovine Thriller' by Dr Brian McGuirk

Members of BCBC may be interested to know that one of our long-standing members, Dr Brian McGuirk, has published a book entitled “A Bovine Thriller”. This 125 page book is an historical account of GB’s dairy cattle breeding industry, from the early 1940s, when the first commercial Artificial Insemination services were established in GB, to “about 1990”, the effective end of the Milk Boards, and their technical services, including the provision of Artificial Insemination (AI).

The book highlights the role of the Club in that period. It focusses on the activities of three scientists, Prof. Alan Robertson OBE in Edinburgh, and Dr. Chris Polge and Dr.Tim Rowson OBE in Cambridge, whose achievements meant that the UK took a leading role worldwide in dairy cattle breeding matters. Through their frequent presentations to BCBC’s conferences, they were also important figures in the Club, with both Prof. Alan Robertson and Dr. Tim Rowson serving as Presidents of BCBC.

While a Chapter in the book is devoted to activities in Scotland, the focus is on England and Wales. The book is an historical description of the industry (cow numbers, milk recording, cow and herd numbers, breed performance and importance, as well as AI usage), but also an up-to-date description of subsequent technical developments, of which their work was an important prelude.

But the book also has a critical two Chapters on dairy breeding programmes, of which the Milk Marketing Board of England and Wales, the MMB, was an early leader, with its Dairy Progeny Testing Scheme (DPTS). Nowadays, the MMB is perhaps best known through the activities of a successor organisation, Genus.

Brian was closely associated with the MOET project in Northumberland, which made available to UK producers a range of genetic “products”, and applied the then latest ideas on genetic evaluation and embryo technologies.

Information Courtesy of Dr Brian McGuirk  - for further details please contact Brian directly.