RBST: 2021 Registrations Crucial for Rare Breeds’ Survival


Rare Breeds Survival Trust (RBST) is encouraging smallholders and farmers to ensure timely registration of their rare breed livestock and equines despite the disruption to shows and sales for a second year, to help safeguard the breeds’ futures.


In normal years the summer’s county shows, agricultural shows and sales often provide key milestones ahead of which rare breeds are registered but many of these shows have been cancelled or disrupted. Registered livestock and equines need to be recorded in the relevant flock book, herd book or stud book, and some receive certificates.


RBST Chief Executive Christopher Price said: “If registrations of rare breeds are overlooked in 2021 as a result of disruption to summer events, crucial information will be lost and the work to support the future of these breeds will suffer. Every registration helps RBST and the breed societies to determine an accurate picture for breed numbers and geographic distribution. Year by year this analysis informs our conservation priorities and programmes of work, as well as decisions about which breeds to target for the UK Gene Bank and categorisations on the RBST Watchlist. Some breeds must be registered within a certain timeframe and missing the window this year will have impacts for years to come, because only progeny of registered animals can themselves be registered.”


Many breeds allow online registration through the Grassroots system (see home.grassroots.co.uk) or the Cloudlines platform (https://cloud-lines.com). Paper applications can also be sent directly to the relevant breed society. 


Ian Roy, Secretary, Clydesdale Horse Society: "Registration of 2021 born Clydesdale foals is now in full swing as we work towards our foal registration deadline date of 30th September 2021. Each year in recent years around 200 foals have been registered with us, a sum which we feel is currently the minimum necessary to sustain our Breed. We would encourage every breeder to register their Clydesdales with us, the Breed Society so that we, alongside the valuable work we appreciate that RBST undertakes, give our Breed the best opportunity to survive and be sustained in the future.'


Stephen Tricks, Chair of Portland Sheep Breeders Group: “50 years ago Portland sheep were nearly extinct. The revival and current popularity of the breed among smallholders is attributable to the dedication of a few individuals and the work of the RBST in running the Combined Flock Book. Registration in the CFB is vital because it ensures that each new generation of Portlands is pure-bred and remains true-to-type.”

Marcus Bates, British Pig Association Chief Executive: “In difficult times it’s easy to ask what’s the point in paying for herdbook registrations as though it is some sort of luxury but without herdbooks we don’t have breeds and we certainly don’t have rare breeds. The information in the pedigree represents the joint efforts of so many generations of breeders in the past. No one breeder owns that pedigree it is a collective endeavour held in trust by the breed society for the benefit of the breed and all the breeders, past present and future. Herdbook registration is an investment in the future and an acknowledgement of respect to all the breeders in the past who kept the breed going for us to enjoy today.” 


Michelle McCauley, Irish Moiled Cattle Society: “Irish Moiled cattle are an ancient breed that came close to extinction in the early 1980s and conservators through the years have worked hard breeding and registering through the Irish Moiled Cattle Society to get the breed to where it is today. Registration for the breed has been invaluable to the breed’s survival. By registering in the herd book, it helps to monitor and record numbers, it gives the assurance that the cattle are pure bred, and DNA proven, there is a wealth of information on the sires/dams etc. all at your fingertips. Sadly, Irish Moileds that are not registered their breeding will be lost to the gene pool and numbers will also start to decline as their offspring cannot be registered. It is important that we continue the work of the conservators before us and continue to register to record and maintain records to help protect this unique and distinct rare breed.”


Adam Short, Registrar for the Old English Goat Society: “Registrations for a breed as critically rare as the Old English Goat are just as important as the breeding itself. Registrations allow us to keep track of the various genetic pools around the country and we can ensure that this season’s matings are based on maximum genetic diversity within the breed. With such a small pool of breeding animals, making the best breeding choices with all of the information available is paramount”