About Sutherland Partners

Sutherland Partners Limited are an agricultural technology (agritech) company that formed in 2013. Bruce Sutherland, the inventor who helped to bring their flagship product, the ‘Aid to Birthing Cattle’ to life, was an Essex-based vet who began to develop the product once he retired in his 80s.

The late Bruce Sutherland (1916-2015), a retired veterinary surgeon, spent many years working with large agricultural animals and was concerned that so many animals experienced problems with birthing (Dystocia), which sometimes occurred due to the practice of interbreeding cattle to produce larger calves. Mr Sutherland devised a rudimentary aid to assist in the birthing process which proved time after time to be of benefit.

Upon retirement Mr Sutherland and his family felt that the birthing aid concept should be developed into a viable commercial product, which they dubbed the ‘Aid for Birthing Cattle’ (ABC). Working with Operations Director John Burgess, the Essex-based Sutherland Partners Ltd was created and a resulting grant of £86,000 was awarded by the UK Government’s Technology Strategy Board (now Innovate UK) to take the product development forward. The company employs two people at present and is looking to increase their workforce.

Sutherland Partners work in co-operation with Edinburgh University and received significant grant funding three years ago from Innovate UK to allow a proof of concept through the university. The company are hoping to take the product to market in 2019.

Close-up shot of multiple cows in a field

How Invest ESSEX have supported Sutherland Partners

After the company was passed to the family of Bruce Sutherland, progress was made with a consultant that Sutherland Partners had initially sought out to try and make the late inventor’s vision a reality. Invest ESSEX were subsequently introduced to the agritech business in order to assist in raising finance for the completion of the flagship product’s design.

Sutherland Partners Ltd were introduced to Dave Watson of Invest ESSEX by Jacqui Stimpson of the Best Growth Hub. Best Growth Hub told me that Dave has the reputation of doing what he says he’ll do and getting things done!

John Burgess
Operations Director
Sutherland Partners

Since then, Invest ESSEX have continued to help Sutherland Partners with the aim of bringing this pioneering product to market in the following ways:

  • The introduction and facilitation of initial meetings with a business angel that is now supporting the business expansion and direction.
  •  Located and introduced an Essex-based business supplying veterinary equipment through a distribution network across 100 countries which is now partnering SPL (Sutherland Partners Ltd).
  • Invest ESSEX are also supporting grant applications through Anglia Ruskin University.
  • Provided an introduction to the world’s largest online reference source for vets who have just launched clinical info service for veterinary care of cattle
  • Sutherland Partners have also been introduced to Ellisons Solicitors and Writtle University College via Invest ESSEX, which are both now supporting this Essex based growth business.
Farmer in tractor

Invest ESSEX has proved to be of tremendous assistance to our company as well as many others in the business community and Dave Watson is a brilliant advocate for the work that it does. Dave has achieved and exceeded his brief with a vengeance.

John Burgess
Operations Director
Sutherland Partners

How the Aid to Birthing Cattle addresses dairy industry challenges

The ‘Aid to Birthing Cattle’ (ABC) is the only non-surgical, non-drug based product that facilitates natural birth in cases of dystocia (problems with birthing). The design of the late Bruce Sutherland’s, rudimentary aid helped to combat dystocia, going on to form the basis of the ABC. The cost to farmers of dystocia is £91m per year, however the solution provided by the ABC would help to reduce this number.

Unlike the ‘Aid to Birthing Cattle’, common dystocia treatments which prove to be ineffective are…

  • Caesarean section (high cost in vet charges, lost milk income and replacing livestock)
  • Painkillers (do not prevent physical damage)
  • Chains (can reduce breeding efficiency by 25%)

Working in close collaboration with Edinburgh University and their Roslin Institute, the largest Veterinary School in the UK, Proof of Concept live trials were held during 2015 and 2016. The trials proved to be successful, and the Proof of Concept was established.

The ABC is a new product type for large agricultural animals and will promote improved welfare for both cows and calves. It will also allow vets and experienced stockmen to deliver even better service & protect farmers’ income. The ABC will play a large part in improving animal welfare for calves and cows and help to prevent birthing deaths of 165K projected deaths caused by dystocia between 2015 to 2020 in the UK alone.

As the UK’s largest agricultural sector at £3.5bn, the dairy industry is seen as of paramount importance. Plans by the UK government to reduce dairy imports from £1.2bn to £0 by 2025 require an increase in herding size within the UK, something which must be matched by the advent of a technological advancement in order to meet these demands within the dairy industry.  The ‘Aid to Birthing Cattle’, and products like it, will therefore play a crucial role in ensuring that such demands are met.

Bottles of milk


For more information about the ‘Aid to Birthing Cattle’ or how to contact Sutherland Partners Limited, please click here: sutherlandpartnersltd.com

Business support 

Invest ESSEX helps companies to relocate or expand in Essex. Our work is delivered by the Let’s Do Business Group and is jointly funded by Essex County Council (ECC) and the European Union’s European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).

For more information on how we can support your business, see here: SME Support page