On August 24th 1904 a landmark meeting took place at the Boars Head Hotel in Carmarthenshire and Welsh Black breeders from north and south Wales created the Welsh Black Cattle Society(WBCS). The 25 breeders who were present at that meeting would be pleased with the way the Society has developed – from a Wales-wide organisation to a world-wide organisation with members and cattle spread across the globe.
The first President was Mr RM Greaves of Wern, Porthmadoc, with James Thomas, Haverfordwest as the first Secretary. The publication of the new amalgamated Herd Book took place in 1905 containing 211 bulls and 698 females. The 100th volume of the Society Herd Book was published in 2012.
The Society’s first organised sale took place at Menai Bridge on Anglesey on 26th March 1915. That day 46 animals were catalogued with the highest priced bull selling for 50 gns and the highest priced female for 25 gns.
The agricultural depression during the 1920s and 30s hampered attempts to hold regular markets but in 1957 a successful sale was held at Dolgellau, establishing the mart as the main gathering place for Welsh Black breeders. Annual sales are now held at Dolgellau, Llandovery and Abergavenny.
Over the decades Welsh Blacks have received numerous awards and plaudits, but one year stands out from the rest. In 2000, in cattle showing circles it was the year of the Welsh Black as the breed scooped virtually every major prize – the Burke Trophy for Best Pair of Beef Cattle at the Royal Show; the Royal Welsh equivalent, the Fitzhugh Trophy and the Queens Cup for British Native Breed at the Royal Smithfield. Much of this success was due to an outstanding pair of home bred animals, Mynydd William 2nd and Mynydd Marigold 2nd owned by Martin Stewart and his family from Colwyn Bay. It was a tremendous start to the new millennium and a wonderful boost for the Society.
The Society has been determined to move with the times and breed development and herd health received a boost with Objective 5b European funding. This allowed for such improvements as a testing programme for Johne’s disease and cattle now entered for Society sales are now from herds that are tested for Johne’s. Funding by Hybu Cig Cymru has also enabled the Society to carry out performance testing at IBERS, Aberystwyth. Growth rates/daily lwg, eye, muscle and feed conversion efficiency reveal the high level results that can be achieved with Welsh Blacks.
The Society continues the drive to improve the cattle, to market the Welsh Black beef, which is growing in popularity due to it’s superior taste, and the traceability acquired from over 100 years of pedigree registrations. Welsh Black cattle are increasing in numbers not only in Wales and England but have been exported to many other parts of the world, from Europe to Australasia.