Article posted Friday 18th February 2011
RBST comments on proposed reduction of rare breeds at Home Farm at Temple Newsam estate, Leeds.
Home Farm is an RBST Approved Conservation Centre and of particular importance to RBST as it is the home of the principal herd of Vaynol cattle, a breed which is in the Critical category of the RBST’s 2011 Watchlist of endangered native breeds of farm animal. There are fewer than 50 breeding females remaining. The farm is also home to other rare breeds in good-sized breeding groups, including a flock of Boreray sheep, also in the Critical category as a rare breed.
At this time of financial constraint, RBST fully understands the need for Leeds City Council to appraise all aspects of activity. Nevertheless, we have real concerns about the council’s current proposals. They do not appear to recognise the time scales involved in dealing with biological livestock systems which simply cannot be switched on and off to meet financial targets-however desirable these may appear in theory. Changes to farming systems take time to implement and thus the potential financial savings may take longer to deliver than is appreciated. RBST would be delighted to work with Leeds City Council to come up with a more robust and workable solution which continues the work of the past 30 years and at the same time strengthens the visitor attraction of Home Farm and reinforces, via the choice of the livestock breeds, the cultural heritage of Leeds and the surrounding area.
Peter Titley, President of RBST comments, “The importance of Temple Newsam’s contribution to conservation cannot be overstated. For over thirty years Home Farm has been a centre of excellence – producing high quality stock and developing the special husbandry skills required to deal with some of the world’s most endangered farm animals. In this respect, Leeds City Council’s track record is second to none. Their success was illustrated last year, for example, by RBST’s decision to fund a satellite herd of Temple Newsam's very rare Vaynol cattle in Lincolnshire – a move only made possible by the fact that Temple Newsam brought this breed back from the brink of extinction”
“I understand the current financial pressures on local authorities but the Temple Newsam proposals, as outlined to me, are ill-informed and misconceived. I would urge the City Council to explore all avenues to ensure that the full potential of the farm is being realised – particularly in relation to the incentives and subsidies available to the farming industry… RBST has links with other public bodies and has considerable experience in ensuring that all available funding streams are maximised. We have put this expertise at the disposal of the City Council and I hope that it will make good use of our connections before finalising its plans…”
Tim Brigstocke, Executive Chairman of RBST, comments, “Leeds City Council has set the standard for promoting and conserving Britain’s livestock heritage through its operations at Home Farm, Temple Newsam. The skill and dedication of the staff have produced standards of husbandry which have taken some of the most endangered domestic animals in the world and brought them back from the brink of extinction.The proposed reductions in livestock numbers would lead to the loss of the carefully developed conservation breeding programmes for the various breeds, many of which have taken over three decades to establish. In conservation terms, this is vandalism.”