For immediate release: 27 July 2020


RBST: Keep Registering Rare Breeds Despite Lockdown


Rare Breeds Survival Trust (RBST) is warning of a set-back for the conservation of rare livestock and equine breeds if animal registrations are overlooked this year as a result of the Covid pandemic. 


Summer is usually a popular time for registering native animals with breed societies, as some breeds need to be registered to qualify for livestock showing classes at county shows over the summer and for forthcoming sales. With the pandemic forcing shows to cancel or move online this year and sales being disrupted, there is a risk that some keepers will overlook registrations. 


RBST Chief Executive Christopher Price said: “Registration of animals is crucial for rare breed conservation. Every registration helps to give us a more accurate picture of the status of each rare breed, allowing us to analyse trends such as increases or decreases in numbers, and geographic distribution. These analyses inform our conservation objectives, decisions on the capture of genetic material, programmes to prevent inbreeding, and support for keepers’ commercial avenues. Some breeds must be registered within a certain timeframe so a delay can mean missing the boat.” 


Registered animals are recorded in the relevant flock book, herd book or stud book, and some receive certificates. Progeny of unregistered animals cannot be registered, so one missed registration can interrupt a bloodline that has survived for generations. 


Christopher Price adds: “For everyone involved with rare breeds, the longer term ambition should be that consumers come to value the proof of authenticity of buying produce from registered rare breed animals. Now that more and more producers are selling meat and wool directly to consumers, we have an opportunity to highlight that registration demonstrates an animal truly has the breed’s unique qualities.”


Many breeds allow online registration through the Grassroots system, and once registered those animals can be flagged as ‘available for sale’. Paper application can also be sent direct to the relevant breed society. Grassroots is soon to launch a new-look online registry and a linked mobile app for both Apple and Android phones to make it even easier to manage pedigree records, from grazing groups and birth information to shearing dates and applying for registration. More information will be available in the coming weeks on


Other breeds allow online registration through the Cloudlines platform. The Cloudlines platform ( allows for the recording of pedigree data from all breeds of livestock, including poultry. The platform is continuously evolving and has additional capabilities including interactive pedigree maps, the generation of genetic information regarding breed populations, stud-selector tool and automated exports of data to population analysis platforms.


Marcus Bates, Chief Executive of the British Pig Association said: “Herdbook registration and pedigree breeding are the foundations of rare breed conservation. Without pedigree breeders diligently registering their pigs many of our native breeds would now be extinct. The Lincolnshire Curly Coat was the last British pig breed to be lost in the 1970’s. Since then a small group of dedicated breeders supported by organisations like the British Pig Association and the Rare Breeds Survival Trust have ensured that no more of our wonderful native pig breeds have been lost. When you herdbook register your pigs you are joining one of the longest running and most successful conservation projects and ensuring that our native breeds are passed on to the next generation.”


Lorna Holden, Registrar of the Eriskay Pony Society said: “Ensure your mare has an up to date Breed Society passport with current ownership shown, and also that your proposed stallion is approved by the society and not closely related. Nobody needs the anxiety of trying to prove that a pony has a genuine pedigree, after the event. Avoid that situation by keeping the Breed Society informed of changes of ownership/castrations and plans to breed/ births. Technology means it is very easy to keep in touch.” 


Jennifer Struthers of the Society of Border Leicester Sheep Breeders said: ““Being on the RBST Watchlist it is vitally important that we can accurately track numbers of sheep in the country to help us understand the trends in numbers. The only way we can do this is if sheep are registered officially with the society. This can be full registration of pedigree animals as well as via birth notification.” 


Alistair Black, Chair of the White Park Cattle Society said: “Prompt registration of all animals allows us to correctly monitor our future breeding stock. This in turn informs us about the total population of White Park cattle and their distribution throughout the U.K.”


To support the Rare Breeds Survival Trust’s work saving rare livestock and equine breeds across the UK, become a member of RBST or donate by visiting



For more information, interviews or images: Isobel Davidson, [email protected] or 07725 470917



  1. Rare Breeds Survival Trust (RBST) is the sole charity dedicated to promoting and preserving the UKs rare and native breeds of farm livestock. Started in 1973, RBST monitors numbers of animals, and threats of inbreeding and geographical concentration. It promotes the breeding and registration of rare and native breeds. Through its 4,500 members, staff and support groups it provides a network of knowledge to support and encourage breeders to reduce these threats. See the website
  2. Native breeds provide a major contribution to our rural economy, both economic and culturally. There are around 30,000 herds and flocks of native breeds in the UK. They contribute over £700 million to UK local economies.