Rare Breeds Survival Trust says its new RBST Watchlist, published in a fresh format, reflects growing recognition among farmers and smallholders of the commercial potential and environmental importance of the UK’s rare breeds of livestock and equines.
RBST works across the UK to save and safeguard the future of rare and native livestock and equine breeds, and its Watchlist is the annual situation report for these breeds. The outlook for many of the UK’s rare native breeds has remained broadly unchanged, thanks to continuing interest from new breeders, the commitment of dedicated Breed Societies, conservation programmes at the 25 RBST-accredited farm parks, and generous public support for RBST’s work.
The way the RBST Watchlist is produced has also been updated this year to give a more holistic view of each breed’s outlook, reflecting robust measures of the genetic diversity within each breed, not just the numbers of breeding females registered as previously used. The new Watchlist is also presented in a simpler style to clearly show Priority and At Risk breeds, and can be found at www.rbst.org.uk.
RBST Chief Executive Christopher Price says: “Farming with rare and native breeds has become increasingly attractive over the past few years, as consumers place a premium on great tasting, locally sourced meat that is kind to the natural environment and based around high standards of animal welfare. At the same time, we have seen Government policy starting to reflect the value of our native breeds to maintain our natural environment and promote biodiversity.
“The new Watchlist more clearly shows a number of breeds which are At Risk but with an improving outlook for their survival well into the future, including Traditional Hereford cattle and British White cattle, Oxford Sandy and Black pigs, New Forest ponies, Bagot goats and Golden Guernsey goats, Leicester Longwool sheep, Boreray sheep and Greyface Dartmoor sheep. However, there are breeds in all our livestock and equine categories which remain a Priority and we are working closely with Breed Societies and RBST-accredited farm parks to improve their position with vital conservation programmes.
“Last year’s births were largely the result of pre-pandemic breeding programmes so we will be keeping a very close eye over the coming months on the impacts of last year’s restrictions, particularly on the equine breeds.”
The rare breeds watchlist 2021
The Rare Breeds Survival Trust
Rare Breeds Survival Trust (RBST) is the sole charity dedicated to promoting and preserving the UKs rare and native breeds of farm livestock. Started in 1973, RBST monitors numbers of animals, and threats of inbreeding and geographical concentration. It promotes the breeding and registration of rare and native breeds. Through its 4,500 members, staff and support groups it provides a network of knowledge to support and encourage breeders to reduce these threats. See the website www.rbst.org.uk
Native breeds provide a major contribution to our rural economy, both economic and culturally. There are around 30,000 herds and flocks of native breeds in the UK. They contribute over £700 million to UK local economies.
With thanks to breed society secretaries, Grassroots Systems Ltd and the Farm Animal Genetic Resources Committee (FAnGR), with whom RBST collaborates to collect data for the Watchlist.