RBST’s 50th anniversary year saw the first of the key objectives in the joint RBST/British Pig Association (BPA) Gene Bank project being achieved with every existing line for every native pig breed being represented in the bank.

During the year, three Gloucestershire Old Spots boars were added together with one Large White and one Welsh. With all of the lines now represented, there remained to be collected five boars representing the Berkshire, Middle White and Oxford Sandy & Black breeds, which would have met the target of 10 boars of each breed in the bank. However, events intervened when the BPA heard that the Felton herd of Gloucestershire Old Spots on the Earl of Plymouth Estate was being closed down. 

This large herd had been run as a closed population for many years and as such the stock were very unrelated to the rest of the national herd. In consultation with RBST and the Gloucestershire Old Spots Pig Breeders Club it was decided to divert resources so that these unique genetics could be added to the Gene Bank with one boar of each line being added to the bank. Three of those have already been frozen and they have dramatically reduced the level of inbreeding in the GOS Gene Bank. The fourth boar from the Sam line has been identified and will be moved to Northern Ireland in a few months. 

BPA Chief Executive Marcus Bates says: “2023 was, officially, the final year of the project but we would like to explore the possibility of extending it for one more year to enable us to collect two Middle Whites and two Oxford Sandy & Blacks to that the full complement of 10 boars per breed can be achieved by November 1 this year when the BPA celebrates its 25th anniversary.”

Photograph - KBB 110 Patrick