With the advent of new housing, heating, automatic feeding systems etc., intensive farmyard enterprises took off in Ireland in the 1960’s. With this new technology becoming commercially available, many farmers took the opportunity to increase family farm income by opting for intensive pig and poultry production.
Nowhere was this development more apparent than in Co. Monaghan. At that time firms such as David Patton Ltd. and Colburns Vitafeed Ltd. were making a considerable financial commitment to pig and poultry producers by developing specialised feeding stuffs and technical know-how. This commitment was often threatened by outbreaks of disease, consequently, both firms decided that a veterinary diagnostic and preventative back-up service was vital to the successful development of these farming enterprises. Therefore, in October 1966 Monaghan Veterinary Laboratory came into being: their aim was to establish and staff the new company with the emphasis on preventative medicine. Their services were open to all farmers and, within a very short time, considerable experience was gained in the fight against disease outbreaks and in modern management techniques.
It soon became apparent to the staff that while they were very often able to identify disease problems and prescribe remedies, the whole exercise often fell flat due to the necessary medicaments being unavailable, or difficult to obtain. These delays often led to considerable financial loss for farmers. It was therefore decided to expand the role of the laboratory, whereby they would carry stocks of the most commonly required preparations. However, within a short time, demand was such that a separate trading company, Agrihealth Ltd., was formed.
Initially the company only stocked pig and poultry preparations, however it soon became obvious that there was a growing need for a distribution company which would carry the broadest range of quality veterinary products and ensure easy availability to farmers through merchants, pharmacies and vet practices. To this end the company made a conscious decision to expand into all aspects of veterinary preventative medicines and, from a very limited base of poultry and pig products carried in the late sixties, the company has arrived at the stage where, today, it carries over 2,500 different animal health products and equipment catering for the entire livestock industry.
The Company’s success snowballed rapidly in the early seventies, so much so that a branch was opened in Donacloney, Craigavon in 1973 to cater for the Northern Ireland and U.K. end of the business.
Because the company was one of the first innovators in merchandising veterinary products to co-ops, sales in 1974 (the year of the collapse of the cattle trade) expanded by 50%. While this expansion figure is taken from a low base it does reflect the drive within the company to succeed.
In the mid-seventies livestock numbers grew and farmers became more conscious of animal health and preventative medicine.
Distribution and merchandising of reputable animal health and veterinary products had been at a low ebb, Agrihealth came along and added its own brand of professionalism in the form of constant supervision of product quality, display, advertising and relevant technical back-up information for their customers.
In 1979, Agrihealth further diversified into veterinary equipment such as syringes, calving aids, dosing guns etc. This development was carried out as a further support for their animal health and veterinary products and has proved very successful. In fact the Agrihealth NI branch is continually expanding its hold on the UK mainland through these products.
Business expanded so rapidly that in 1980 the first computerised system was obtained at its Monaghan branch where accounts were centralised. Through continual growth it became necessary for the NI branch to produce its own financial accounts, and in 1985 Agrihealth NI obtained its first computerised accounts system.
During the company’s history premises have been extended and modernised. The Donacloney premises (NI
Branch) were purchased from the receiver of a liquidated building company and land and property have been acquired from its three immediate neighbours to enable the three major expansions to the original property. These took place in 1980, 1988 and 2000/2001.
In 2005 Agrihealth further showed its commitment to agriculture with the purchase of its’ main wholesaling competitor in Northern Ireland, Vetigal Ltd. Due to the continued growth of the NI & UK business, Agrihealth with the support of Invest NI moved in early 2008 into a new purpose built 25,000 sq. ft. warehousing and office facility in Lurgan, Co. Armagh.