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Our History

BOCM PAULS came into being in 1992, being formed by the amalgamation of two businesses operating in the animal feed industry, but which had very different beginnings.

Pauls Agriculture was founded in Ipswich in the early nineteenth century initially to trade in malt and barley for brewers. This expanded into trading of maize and other ingredients for horses and subsequently from the early 1900s onwards, for other animals.

BOCM Silcock also has its roots in the nineteenth century being one of the earliest crushers of oilseeds to produce vegetable oils for the human food industries and for soap manufacture. The by-product of this process - the oilseed cake- rapidly became a rich source of protein for feeding to all types of animals.

Pauls sailing barge "Ena"


The manufacture of animal feeds on an industrial scale can be traced back to the early 1900s when advances in both human and animal nutrition identified the virtues of a balanced diet and the contribution that processing of certain raw materials could bring to this.The Company was a pioneer in these fields and in 1907 registered two trade marks (both of which are still in existance):-


 - the first commercially available balanced diet for laying hens.                                          


- this was a cooked and flaked maize product widely fed to horses, cattle and pigs.

Both these products were based on the usage of maize which was imported chiefly from the USA. This was the beginning of the animal feed industry.

1910 - 1960 - Era of the port mills

The Kositos and Eggemon brands typify the beginning of the compound feed industry, which was to expand rapidly over the next 30 years. The bulk of manufacturing was carried out at major ports by a few large companies.


The industry grew up around main deep sea ports for three main reasons:-

  • Availability of cheap imported cereals (especially maize from the USA).
  • Proximity to flour mills (which also relied on imported grain, mainly hard red wheat from USA and Canada). The residue from flour milling - wheatfeed - was (and still is today) one of the major ingredients in animal feeds.
  • Proximity to oilseed crushing plants. Again, these plants relied on imported vegetable oilseeds (soya from USA and South America, groundnut from West Africa, cottonseed from East Africa and the Far East etc.). The by-products from the oilseed crushing process - the "cake" was a good source of protein and energy in animal feed rations.

Typically, one large company would be engaged in at least two of these activities at the port. Unilever, for example, in addition to the two feed mills it owned in London (through its BOCM and Silcock subsidiaries) also had oilseed crushing plants at Silvertown and Erith. Both Pauls and Unilever had feed mills and crushing plants in Hull. Other companies such as Ranks and Spillers owned flour mills in addition to feed mills.

By today's standards, the output from these port mills was truly massive. For example the combined output of the plants at Avonmouth exceeded 1 million tonnes per year and provided employment for well in excess of 1,000 people.

Much of the distribution from these port mills was by railway, and trains composed solely of animal feeds were a common sight (especially in the South West and around Selby in Yorkshire) up until the late 1950s. Typically, anything from one to ten trucks would be dropped off at wayside and branchline stations for collection by local merchants and thence delivery to farms. This is why the address of many traditional agricultural merchants is 'Station Road', even though the railway serving it may well be long gone.


1960 - 1985 - Era of the country mill

The 1939 - 45 War served as a stark reminder that Britain was an island and that reliance on imported food could (and nearly did) lead to starvation. Successive post war governments heeded this warning by encouraging our self sufficiency in food production, a policy which was to lead to the demise of the port mills and their replacement by country mills.  During the 1950s and early 60s the large port mills became increasingly uneconomic to run with their large labour forces, generally ageing equipment and expensive rail based distribution systems over long distances. In addition, home grown cereals were increasingly available and with transport costs rising, a multiplicity of smaller country manufacturers supplying the market in their immediate vicinity were established and challenged the dominance of the port mills. BOCM and Pauls became the industry leaders in establishing new and more efficient country mills sited much closer to farmer customers. Winsford in Cheshire was the first country mill to be established in 1967, followed by Lutterworth (Leicestershire) and Crediton (Devon) in 1969. Thereafter, a further 16 country mills were built replacing all but two of the 23 port mills, at Selby and Renfrew. Both of these plants received major upgrades in the late 1980s.

1985 - 2000  - Aftermath of dairy quotas

The late 1970s and early 1980s probably mark the heyday of the feed industry, with demand rising from an increasingly affluent population able to afford more meat, milk and eggs. The relative decline in the price of food also fuelled this demand. However, oversupply was becoming evident, especially in the dairy industry and the imposition of milk production quotas in 1985 hit the industry very hard removing as it did demand for around 1 million tonnes of dairy food virtually overnight. This resulted in a severe over-capacity in the industry which could only be tackled through rationalisation of ownerships and mill closures. The 5 years between 1987 and 1991 saw the end of many farming names in the industry, (e.g. Ranks and Spillers bought by Dalgety; Nitrovit bought by Bibbys) and the acquisition of many smaller country compounders primarily by BOCM and Pauls, including Marsdens (Lancashire), Burgess Feeds (Yorkshire), Sheldon Jones (Somerset), Cobbledicks (Devon) and Tucks (Norfolk). The amalgamation of BOCM Silcock and Pauls Agriculture in 1992 and the establishment of BOCM PAULS provided an opportunity to further reduce the numbers of uneconomic mills to the extent that today's mill configuration reflects current demand patterns.

2000 - To Date - Evolution of The Total Feed Business

The consolidation of the feed industry continued into the new century leaving BOCM PAULS as the only remaining national multi species compound feed business in the UK.  However, as our customers have changed, BOCM PAULS has changed with them.  Livestock farmers buy nutrition in a variety of ways and so BOCM PAULS has spent the last 10 years evolving from "the leading feed compounder" to "the total feed business" in order to supply nutrition in what ever form our customers want to buy it.  This process started in 2003 with the establishment of Feedex which supplies pig home mixers with premixes and creep feeds.  On the ruminant side of the business, the aquisition of the Farm Feeds NW blends business in the same year was the start of a strategy which saw a further 6 blends plants added to the Company's portfolio in the years that followed.  Feeds Marketing, a co products trading division was acquired from Tate & Lyle in 2004 and in 2010, BOCM PAULS bought a majority shareholding in Leafield Feeds, a well established biscuit meal manufacturer based near Wakefield.

In 2012 BOCM PAULS LTD was acquired by ForFarmers Group, creating the largest feed company in Europe with:

  • 8.8 million of tonnes of feed, of which 6.5 million tonnes is compound feed and 2.3 million tonnes is straights and co-products.
  • 2500 employees
  • Turnover of € 6.6 billion


Corporate milestones

1893  R & W Paul Limited incorporated.
1899 The British Oil and Cake Mills Limited incorporated (BOCM).
1964  R & W Paul merge with White Tomkins & Courage to form Pauls & Whites Ltd. New company listed in Stock Exchange.
1969 BOCM & Silcock Lever Feeds merged to form BOCM Silcock Ltd.
1984 Pauls acquired by Harrisons & Crosfield plc. (Now Elementis plc).
1992 Unilever sell BOCM Silcock to merge with Pauls Agriculture to form BOCM PAULS LTD
1998 Management Buyout from Elementis plc backed by Electra Fleming.
2000 Refinance of Company; now 89% owned by Directors and Management
2012 BOCM PAULS LTD acquired by ForFarmers Group.
Building Relationships in the Food Chain