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RBST Press Release: Good news for breed conservation

News Date: 28.04.2010

RBST Press Release

The scrapping of the numerical threshold from the Breeds at Risk Register (BARR) marks good news for conservation. Following an announcement by Defra, the way is now open for even single animals to benefit from any special measures introduced in the wake of a disease outbreak.  Previously restricted to Foot and Mouth Disease, special measures may now also be extended to all notifiable diseases.

These moves have been welcomed by the Rare Breeds Survival Trust (RBST) which has been campaigning for the removal of the numerical threshold which has prevented many keepers of rare breed livestock from including their animals on the register. 

It is an EU requirement that member countries establish lists of holdings where animals are kept for conservation purposes which are indispensable to the survival of the breed.  By being able to identify premises where such animals are kept, Defra may be able to include them in considerations for alternatives to slaughter in the event of a disease outbreak.  However, the numerical thresholds stipulated breeding nuclei of 8 females for cattle, 16 for sheep, three for pigs and 6 for goats.  Now keepers with just one female are able to register.

RBST Chairman Tim Brickstocke says:  “This is a very welcome development.  RBST has long campaigned for a fully integrated register as the best way of protecting rare and endangered farm animal genetic resources in a disease outbreak.  As Defra recognises, any number of animals on a premises could at some point become indispensable to the survival of a breed.  Longer term, we would like to extend BARR to cover all farm livestock species, but that may be some way off.”

Inclusion on BARR is purely voluntary, but it is in owners’ interests to register their premises.  Although there are no guarantees, it is only in this way that any special disease measures can be applied to them.  To qualify, breeds must be listed as rare in the UK Country report, be native to the UK and be registered with a recognised breed society.  Keepers can register their stock at rbst.org.uk/breedsatrisk or call RBST on 024 7669 6551.

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Note to Editors

1. For further details contact Tim Brigstocke on 07710 741440

2. RBST was established in 1973 as the world’s first national non-governmental organisation created for the genetic conservation of farm animal genetic resources. During the first seven decades of the 1900’s, 26 native breeds of livestock became extinct in Britain. Since the formation of the RBST no native breeds have been lost.

3. The RBST Watchlist is published each year which monitors the registered adult breeding female numbers and vulnerability of native breeds. In 2009 an additional category of Geographical Concentration was published.

4. Information on the Rare Breeds Survival Trust can be found at: http://www.rbst.org.uk