RBST Release 2018 Watchlist

The Rare Breeds Survival Trust (RBST), the only UK charity dedicated to monitoring, preserving and promoting rare breed farm animals and horses, have released the 2018 Rare Breeds Danger List report.

The report sets out the current state of the countries rarest breeds at risk of extinction.

Hitting the highest danger level of breeds most likely to die out are (number of breeding females 2018):

  1. Vaynol cows – 12

  2. Cleveland Bay Horse – 64

  3. Suffolk Horse – 80

  4. British Landrace pigs – 138

  5. British Lop pigs – 161

Vaynol Cow & Calf

Vaynol Cow & Calf

UK rare breed animal numbers are at crisis point, with animals that have been around since Viking times, in danger of being lost from the British landscape forever.

Danger zone
Of the types of animals most at risk in 2018, pigs (British Landrace and British Lop) and horses (Suffolk Horse and Cleveland Bay Horse) are all in the danger zone.

Tom Beeston, CEO of The Rare Breeds Survival Trust said;
“These rare breed animals are going to end up as dead as a Dodo unless their numbers increase dramatically. With the publication of the Danger Watchlist, we are calling on Government bodies and consumers to support our work.

“We need more than £10m in the next decade to pay for our Gene Bank, where genetic material is stored so that we can recreate a breed, a bit like the film Jurassic Park. And although it might sound odd we want more people to eat rare breed meat to drive demand for the animals.

“These animals are beautiful to look at, uniquely British and deserve to be protected for future generations.”

Horses and Ponies
Our rare breed heavy horses (Suffolk, Clydesdale) who used to plough the fields of the UK, were ‘called up’ during the First and Second World Wars to pull gun carriages (‘War Horse’ film) are now in danger of dying out forever. During the wars, over a million of these horses were used by the army for active service. Farmers don’t use Clydesdale, Shire and Suffolk horses for ploughing anymore because 99.9% of farms use tractors. These horses are noble, majestic animals with great personalities that can be shown, ridden and driven. Action is desperately needed to breed more of these heavy horses.

The UKs appetite for bacon continues to rise with 87 million breakfasts last year (Kantar Worldpanel data) including sizzling rashers. Roast pork for Sunday lunch and ham for sandwiches, mean pork is a popular consumer choice.

However, the demand for pork over the past few decades has led to intensive production of pigs for lean meat with little waste. Rare breed pigs like the Gloucestershire Old Spots and Tamworth do now feature on gastro-pub menus, and the Rare Breed Survival Trust believe it’s very important for consumers to ask for these rare breed animals when they go out to eat.

The British Lop and British Landrace pigs are in extreme danger. Pigs produce large litters of up to 12 piglets, but the problem is that celebrity chefs and restaurant owners haven’t heard of these rare breeds so there is no market for them. RBST is working to change this.

Rare breed beef is becoming of greater interest to chefs and restaurants. Highland Cows used to be on the danger list in the 1970s, but and are now considered great meat and popular with consumers. Counter-intuitively; this is a good thing, because the more people that eat rare breed meat, the greater the demand and the more animals will be bred.

Of greatest concern are Vaynol due to the critically low numbers, with British White cattle also being hit hard with a significant decrease since last year.

Cattle Sheep Horses Pigs
In Decline
Chillingham Wild Cattle Soay Eriskay British Lop
Native Aberdeen Angus Exmoor British Saddleback
British White Clydesdale Welsh
No Change
Gloucester Boreray Dales British Landrace
Irish Moiled Lincoln Longwool Hackney Tamworth
Traditional Hereford North Ronaldsay Highland
Shetland Whitefaced Woodland Shire
Welsh Mountain Pedigree
Border Leicester
Derbyshire Gritstone
Dorset Horn
Manx Loaghton
Of Concern
Dairy Shorthorn (op) Leicester Longwool Cleveland Bay Large Black
Northern Dairy Shorthorn Castlemilk Moorit Fell Middle White
Whitebred Shorthorn Devon & Cornwall Longwool New Forest Berkshire
Lincoln Red (op) Hill Radnor Suffolk Large White
White Park Portland Dartmoor Gloucestershire Old Spots
Teeswater Oxford Sandy & Black

The Future
Ominously, the report shows that some breeds will be lost forever unless funding is urgently found from the government and public funds.


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