24 May 2002

Big grant increases rare breed security

BRITAINS rare sheep breeds are now more secure than ever.

The Rare Breeds Survival Trust (RBST) is to receive a £425,000 grant from the Tubney Charitable Trust, which will allow it to collect and store semen from all 28 breeds listed by the Trust.

Collected semen will be split between breeders and the RBST, with 55% being put into long-term storage for future use should a breed need access to a wider genetic base. The rest will be made available to cattle, sheep and pig breeders for short-term use.

The threat to Britains rare breeds was never greater than at the height of last years foot-and-mouth outbreak, when the RBST says six breeds were at immediate risk of losing large numbers.

"With this generous gift from the Tubney Trust, we can build up protection for our precious sheep breeds making them better able to withstand threats that they may face in the future," says Rosemary Mansbridge, RBST chief executive.

Some of the grant will also be used to develop a unique dedicated library and archive of all 73 rare breeds of British livestock which the RBST oversees. &#42