22 October 2001
Royal kiss of life for rare breeds

By FWi staff

PRINCE CHARLES has donated a substantial amount of money to help save some of Britains rarest farm animals from extinction.

The Rare Breeds Survival Trust launched a 2.5 million appeal in July 2001 to expand the “gene bank”.

The move came after the foot-and-mouth crisis threatened to wipe out unique breeds of cattle, sheep, pigs and goats.

Trust chief executive Rosemary Mansbridge said the money would help move the project further and will encourage others to provide vital support.

“A series of crises in farming including BSE, swine fever and now foot-and-mouth have resulted in millions of animals being destroyed.”

Animals at risk include the UKs only surviving herd of Vaynol cattle – a white, semi-wild breed maintained on a farm run by Leeds City Council.

Others under threat include British Lop pigs, Irish Moiled cattle, Castlemilk Moorit sheep, Boreray sheep and North Ronaldsay sheep.

Ms Mansbridge said that the trust must hold sufficient genetic material to help ensure that none of 63 endangered breeds are lost.

Some 20% of the 500 remaining Whitefaced Woodland breeding ewes have been destroyed in the last six months because of the foot-and-mouth crisis.

A quarter of the money would be used immediately to increase the collection of genetic material to ensure the future of rare breeds.

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