Tradition and innovation as firm celebrates 75th birthday

Claude Horrell and Winifred Dodson co-founded the firm in 1939
Claude Horrell and Winifred Dodson co-founded the firm in 1939
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A family firm which holds two Royal Warrants is celebrating a special landmark.

Animal feed specialist Dodson & Horrell, which is based in Islip, is celebrating its 75th anniversary this year.

1961 Dodson &Horrell lorry

1961 Dodson &Horrell lorry

The firm, which is considered to be Europe’s leading specialist in animal feeds, has been a pioneer in horse feed since it was founded in Ringstead in 1939 by Claude Horrell and Winifred Dodson.

The business initially stocked and sold other major brands of animal feed before building its own small mill. With the outbreak of the Second World War, Dodson & Horrell was affected by the introduction of the wartime measures of food rationing and its two lorries operated on fuel tokens.

Continued steady growth and the installation of more milling equipment saw manufacturing becoming well established in Ringstead. Dodson & Horrell continued to produce mainly traditional animal feeds which it supplied to the local farming community. Close links were forged with local farmers at this time, both as suppliers and customers, and many of these relationships remain intact to this day.

The company has grown to become a world leader and respected authority on animal nutrition as well as Europe’s leading horse feed manufacturer. Now based at nearby Islip, after relocating in May 2005, the business is run by John and Richard Horrell, sons of co-founder Claude Horrell.

Dodson & Horrell

Dodson & Horrell

The firm was granted its first Royal Warrant of Appointment in 1985 as Horse Feeds Manufacturers to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth 11.

Joint managing director John Horrell said: “Since the company was founded in 1939 it has grown to become one of the leading horse food manufacturers in Europe utilising years of knowledge and expertise from within the company.

“We have built and developed strong foundations in the last 75 years and our aim is to build on our success for the future.

“2014 is a special commemorative year and will provide the platform for our future growth within the industry.”

1976 Dodson & Horrell lorry

1976 Dodson & Horrell lorry

The firm is well-known in horseriding circles not only for its feed but for its sponsorship programme, which has seen the firm associated with some of the world’s leading horseriders across all avenues of the sport.

Show jumper Ellen Whitaker, event riders Piggy French and Laura Collett, dressage rider Richard Davison and a host of other names across the various disciplines rely on the backing of Dodson & Horrell which supports many equestrian disciplines from the grass roots level up.

In the past 12 years, Dodson & Horrell has fed three winners of the Grand National. It has also fed 13 Olympic horses and three Hong Kong Derby winners in the past 20 years as well as seven Epsom Derby winners since 2001.

So much horse feed has been manufactured by Dodson & Horrell since 1939 that if all the bags were laid end to end, it would be the equivalent distance of going to the Moon and back five times. And the tonnage output from Dodson & Horrell per year is the weight of 15 Eiffel Towers.

1997Dodson & Horrell lorry

1997Dodson & Horrell lorry

The firm also owns the Chudley brand, which includes complete dry diets for pet and working dogs.

The Chudley family were well-known for breeding and training champion labradors, springers and cocker spaniels and had been buying straight cereals from Dodson & Horrell. In 1976 they agreed to cement their relationship on a commercial basis and the Chudleys brand was born.

Chudleys Dog Food was granted a Royal Warrant in 2006, making the company Horse and Dog Food Manufacturers By Appointment to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.