Eleven boars have now been added to the RBST Gene Bank as part of the British Lop Project. The breed has a total of seven boar lines and at least one boar from each line has been added.

The latest additions are Bezurrell General 37 from Giles Eustice’s Bezurrell herd and Eaves Duke 3 from Mick Paddock and Sarah Marsden’s herd. Both boars were selected out of the 2023 show season stock and make a valuable contribution to the overall mean kinship and thus diversity of all the breeding genetics taken to date.

Eaves Duke is only the second Duke boar to be collected as part of the project and describing him Mick Paddock said: “He was called Peter Rabbit as the 2022 Lop females are called Flopsie and Mopsie (Mopsie being his sister). His sire was Chapel Duke 3, bred by Steve Booth, and his dam was Windmill Excelsa 53, bred by Malcolm Hicks. We have only been keeping Lops since 2019, but he was our 107th birth-notified Lop – he had a good growth rate, is long in the body and has a good Lop head. We showed him in 2023 at Nottingham, Devon, Stafford, South of England, Three Counties, Cheshire and The Royal Welsh, and he won his class at Devon, South of England and Three Counties.”

Giles Eustice, British Lop Pig Society Chairman, said: ‘It is fantastic to see another two boars enter the programme and, in particular, to see the Duke line making its way into the Gene Bank. Not many years ago we almost lost the Duke line in its entirety before the last of the gene pool was saved from a breeder in Scotland and work was focussed on bringing it back up in both numbers and diversity. It’s very nice to see that work rewarded and saved for the future.’

There are currently a further three boars which are on centre being collected, all from the very successful Liskeard Herd and representing three boar lines: Cornishman, Supreme and Prince. Importantly these three boars represent the Mary and Sunshine sow lines, neither of which have been directly represented in previous boars.

As well as being frozen from the RBST Gene Bank, Eaves Duje 2 and Bezurrell General 37 are remaining on centre at Deerpark Pedigree Pigs. They will be available for use in breeding programmes, enabling breeders to access genetics that may have not currently be represented in their herd. The collections that have occurred represent a significant conservation project for the breed, combining both in-situ and ex-situ conservation.

RBST Senior Conservation Adviser Tom Blunt says: ‘The British Lop project has been significant in ensuring the genetics of the breed are maintained for future generations. It has also helped raise the profile of this fantastic breed and, working with the breed society, RBST aims to continue to improve the conservation status of the British Lop pig. The breed is still classified as a Priority breed on the RBST Watchlist, so it is important that new herds are established to supplement the work of existing breeders.”

To find out more about the British Lop visit: www.britishloppig.org.uk or contact RBST.

Photo: Christina Vaughan