Rare pig breeds spared fom cull

3 July 2001

Rare pig breeds spared fom cull

By Isabel Davies

RARE-BREED pig producers whose stock is threatened under the foot-and-mouth culling policy are set to be thrown a lifeline by the government.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) is to say that rare-breed pigs will be exempt from culls on farms neighbouring outbreaks.

Previously they were automatically slaughtered in these contiguous culls as part of foot-and-mouth disease control.

The expected relaxation of rules follows a move in May to exclude rare breeds of sheep from the policy.

It was welcomed by the Rare Breeds Survival Trust (RBST) at the launch of an appeal to raise 2.5 million for an internal gene bank in London on Tuesday (03 July).

Rosemary Mansbridge, RBST chief executive, said foot-and-mouth had had a devastating impact on rare breed population.

Sheep had been the hardest hit, but cattle and pig numbers had also been badly affected.

The number of Gloucester Old Spots in the country had dropped by 15% to just over 300, said Mrs Mansbridge.

She feared that losses could be even greater once all data becomes available. “I suspect they will become worse as hard figures trickle through,” she said.

Mrs Mansbridge said if an international gene bank could be established, it would minimise the effect of any future farming crises.

“Some of the most endangered breeds can count the number of breeding females in only tens or hundreds of animals,” she said.


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