Old­est na­tive breed on watch­list

The Field - - NEWS -

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

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