Registrations 'crucial' for rare breeds' survival, farmers told

Conservators have worked hard breeding and registering rare breeds, such as Irish Moiled cattle
Conservators have worked hard breeding and registering rare breeds, such as Irish Moiled cattle

Farmers and smallholders are being urged to ensure timely registration of their rare breed livestock despite the disruption to shows and sales for a second year.

In a normal year, summer shows and sales often provide key milestones ahead of which rare breeds are registered, but many of these have been cancelled for another year running.

Registered livestock and equines need to be recorded in the relevant flock book, herd book or stud book, and some receive certificates.

Due to pandemic disruption, the Rare Breeds Survival Trust (RBST) has pushed farmers to register to help societies determine an accurate picture for breed numbers.

If registrations of rare breeds are overlooked in 2021 as a result of disruption, crucial information could be lost and the work to support breeds may suffer.

RBST chief executive Christopher Price said: “This analysis informs our conservation priorities and programmes of work, as well as decisions about which breeds to target for the UK Gene Bank and categorisations on the RBST Watchlist.

"Some breeds must be registered within a certain timeframe and missing the window this year will have impacts for years to come, because only progeny of registered animals can themselves be registered.”

Irish Moiled cattle are an ancient breed that came close to extinction in the early 1980s and conservators have worked hard breeding and registering through the Irish Moiled Cattle Society.

Registration for the breed has been invaluable to the breed’s survival, according to the Michelle McCauley, who works at the society.

"By registering in the herd book, it helps to monitor and record numbers, it gives the assurance that the cattle are pure bred, and DNA proven, there is a wealth of information on the sires/dams etc. all at your fingertips," she said.

"Sadly, Irish Moileds that are not registered their breeding will be lost to the gene pool and numbers will also start to decline as their offspring cannot be registered.

"It is important that we continue the work of the conservators before us and continue to register to record and maintain records to help protect this unique and distinct rare breed.”

Many breeds allow online registration through the Grassroots system or the Cloudlines platform, and paper applications can also be sent directly to the relevant breed society.