Oldest native breed on watchlist
The future for rare breed pigs is “extremely worrying”, with seven of the 11 native breeds showing declining numbers on the latest Rare Breeds Survival Trust (RBST) Watchlist.
The Gloucestershire Old Spots breed, despite its illustrious reputation, is showing the most dramatic decline. Numbers of sows producing birth-notified litters were down from 837 in 2014 to 416 in 2016. The breed is now on Watchlist Category 4 – At Risk.
There were more hopeful signs for native sheep breeds with renewed interest resulting in increases across the primitive and hill and heath breeds. Numbers of Borerays and Whiteface Dartmoors were going up but the situation was more mixed for the shortwool and down and longwool breeds, apart from the Dorset Down, Portland and Greyface Dartmoor. One of Britain’s oldest native breeds, the Derbyshire Gritstone, is now on the Watchlist as a Category 4 – At Risk.
“There is an urgent need to encourage more producers to take on these breeds to stop the genetic pool shrinking but breeders must have a market for their produce,” said the RBST’S chief executive, Tom Beeston.
The charity is helping small producers by launching a competition to find the best national breed sausages. Sausages can be made using any meat – pork, beef or lamb – providing it comes from a registered pedigree animal from the RBST Watchlist categories 1 to 6. Entries close on 3 July. The winner will be announced at Jimmy’s Festival on 22 July hosted in Suffolk by RBST president Jimmy Doherty. For details, visit: www.rbst.org.uk