While the outlook for many of the UK’s rare native breeds has remained broadly unchanged, the Rare Breeds Survival Trust (RBST) has highlighted a number of ‘priority breeds’ in its latest annual Watchlist.
Gloucester cattle, Tamworth pigs, Cleveland Bay Horse, Eriskay ponies and Old English Goat were identified as breeds of particular concern, with ongoing trends of very low populations as well as lack of genetic diversity.
Commenting on the Watchlist, RBST chief executive Christopher Price said farming with rare and native breeds had become increasingly attractive in the past few years as consumers placed a premium on locally sourced meat which is kind to the natural environment.
He said: “At the same time, we have seen Government policy starting to reflect the value of our native breeds to maintaining our natural environment and promoting 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.
"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 new Watchlist can be found at www.rbst.org.uk.