RBST 'Watchlist' compiled

JANUARY 2008: Two breeds of sheep are to be classified at 'Other Native Breeds' and 19 native breeds of poultry added to the annual 'Watchlist' compiled by RBST.

2007 gave us many challenges, floods, FMD, Bluetongue and Avian              Influenza all these along other factors will have a direct effect              on numbers of livestock, both now and in the future, said RBST. However, the              2008 Watchlist shows that most breeds are showing an encouraging            increase in numbers.

           

“We are delighted that the numbers of Llanwenog and Ryeland              sheep have increased and enabled both breeds to be moved to the ‘Other              Native Breeds’ category. This is a great credit to the longstanding              commitment of the Trust, breed societies and breeders.” says              Dr Dawn Teverson, RBST Conservation Officer.

           

Greater public awareness about food production and animal welfare              together with a demand for traceable, quality products is supporting              the work of RBST.

           

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Word is spreading throughout the farming fraternity that native              breeds can be managed extensively without the need for the expensive              inputs that are required by many other breeds. Premiums paid for              quality meat and incentive schemes for keeping native breeds also              help to increase animal numbers whilst discerning retail customers              are returning time and again to butchers who provide this quality              service.

           

Other changes to the annual Watchlist include:

           

Cattle

           

The Irish Moiled Cattle Society, have put together a breeding              programme on the basis of Geneped results and advice from the Trust.              The breed moves from category 2 to category 3 now that we are assured              that the programme is in place, and conservation breeding semen              is now available to Irish Moiled breeders in addition to the bulls              on the ‘for sale’ list.

           

Other cattle breeds which are showing the results of concerted              conservation efforts are the Shetland (category 3 to 4), original              population Lincoln Red (category 2 to 3) and the Whitebred              Shorthorn              (category 1 to 2). Although an increase in numbers, we must remember              that this still only brings the Whitebred Shorthorn to significantly              less than 200 breeding females – more than ever a breed in              need of serious support.

           

Sheep

           

Two primitive breeds, the Soay and the Castlemilk Moorit are going              from strength to strength. The Soay (category 3 to 4), and the              Castlemilk Moorit (category 2 to 3). The Castlemilk Moorit Breed              Society has embarked on an extensive Breed Support programme, based              on the results of breed analysis by RBST, using Geneped. Rare bloodlines              are being targeted, both for semen collection and live animal conservation.              The project is a model of cooperation between the Society, the              breeders and the Trust. The Dorset Down is also classed as a success              with its move (category 4 to 5).

           

Horses and Ponies

           

Equine breeds show little movement between categories for 2008.              However, the Dales is a notable exception (category 1 to 2), a              welcome increase after the shock of it moving from category 3,              Vulnerable to 1, Critical in the 2006 Watchlist. This move is a              reflection of the hard work of the owners and the breed society,              but also illustrates the positive effect of accurate listing of              a breed on the Watchlist, which means that we can monitor population              numbers in order to concentrate effort and resources where they              can be most effective.

           

Poultry

           

RBST met with the Poultry Club of Great Britain during 2007 and              significant new projects are planned for 2008. These will build              on the continuing work of the Trust and Roslin Institute to produce              poultry DNA profiles, and the addition (after extensive research)              of 19 native breeds of poultry to the Watchlist. This means that ‘other              native breeds’ of poultry are included as well as those traditionally              found on the Watchlist; as with other species. However, we do not              have population data for these additional breeds for the 2008 Watchlist,              so they will remain uncategorised.

           

Pigs

           

The Trust and British Pig Association (BPA) expect to make significant              progress during 2008 with Geneped breed analyses planned for all              our Watchlist breeds. However, these can only be attempted when              BPA has received pig survey returns from the breeders and incorporated              this information into the registration database. Both organisations              will pool expertise and resources to take our breeds forward, post              2007.

           

For more information contact RBST on 024 7669 8764 or visit www.rbst.org.uk