Applications open to use rams out of Ovine Semen Archive

Some members may be aware that National Sheep Association (NSA) and the Rare Breeds Survival Trust (RBST) jointly owns the Ovine Semen Archive (OSA), which was established in 2009 to take ownership of semen collected by Defra as part of the National Scrapie Plan. The archive is not a true representation of any of the 69 breeds contained within it, as the semen was collected in response to the scrapie situation 20 years ago and has not been updated since. However, in lieu of the UK having a national gene bank (something NSA strongly believes should exist) NSA and RBST have agreed to continue to hold the OSA on behalf of the sheep industry for a little longer. The OSA directors believe that, while it is wrong for the sheep industry to be relying on OSA and mostly privately-owned collections as a genetic resource in the event of a disease outbreak or similar disaster, having OSA is better than nothing. NSA and RBST are continuing to highlight to Defra the need for a national gene bank – and, in the meantime, have rationalised the semen within OSA to reduce costs. This rationalisation is mostly reducing the amount of straws held per ram, but also releasing rams if they are duplicated in other stores or there are more than 25 rams held for a single breed. Rams not required in OSA and not of a scrapie susceptible genotype are now on release to any individual with an interest in using them and willing to pay an administration fee to move them out of the archive. Go to to view the available rams and download a semen release form. Forms must be received before Monday 1st August and will be processed on a first-come-first-served basis.