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Rare Breed Stallions

Stallion AI Services Working with the Rare Breeds Survival Trust Since 2002

The 2013 Stallion AI Services team with Countryfile presenter Adam Henson and the Managing Director of the Rare Breed Survival Trust Robert Havard

The Marsh Christian Award for Conservation in Genetic Bio-Diversity

Tullis receiving the Marsh Christian Award for Genetic Biodiversity in 2011

This Award, run in association with the Rare Breeds Survival Trust, recognises individuals or a group that have made significant technical, scientific and practical contributions to the field of genetic bio-diversity.

In 2011 an extra category was introduce to recognise those people who had made a committed long term contribution in the field of Genetic Biodiversity and the Rare Breed Survival Trust.

The 2011 winner Tullis Matson 

Tullis Matson won the Scientific and Practical Award for the technological advances he has brought to the field of equine semen collection and freezing in the UK and his work to further the knowledge of these processes. His work has researched and broadened the range of extenders now being used in equine semen freezing, which has enabled some breeds such as the Hackney to be collected and successfully frozen for the first time. Semen from certain breeds and indeed individual stallions was often previously found to not survive well some traditional extenders. Tullis has been testing with extenders which include bovine serum and using more rigorous semen assessment methods to get the best possible freezing results. He now guest lectures at a number of institutions and runs training courses in AI to pass on such techniques and knowledge others. It is thanks to this work by Tullis and his staff that we have some breeds and certain bloodlines in the RBST gene bank – which have been difficult to collect from in the past. In addition he has helped raise the profile and confidence in the use of frozen stallion AI, which was not so well thought of only a decade ago.

The National Livestock Genebank

The Rare Breeds Survival Trust (RBST) is asking owners of Britain’s rare native pony and horse breeds to help secure their future by putting stallions forward for its semen bank.
There are currently 12 breeds on the RBST’s watchlist classified as rare along with 2 more breeds, the Shetland Pony and the Welsh Pony and Cob. In the critical category are the Cleveland Bay, Dales Pony, Eriskay pony Hackney Horse and Pony and the Suffolk horse — which each has less than 300 registered breeding mares.

The RBST aims to collect and freeze semen from 25 stallions from each of the breeds listed as part of their genebank, to ensure that, should a crisis occur in the populations, there will be adequate semen supplies, to prevent any breeds becoming extinct. The use of a genebank will also help to ensure genetic variation amongst the breed.

The RBST works with breed societies and individual breeders to identify suitable stallions. All stallions must be registered and have an accurate, minimum three-generation pedigree, to ensure the semen bank holds the broadest genetic diversity in the current population. The RBST can compare a new stallions breeding with that of the stallions already collected to ensure a varied collection is achieved.

The RBST collect the semen with a number of different agreements with the stallion’s owner. A typical agreement is where the semen is collected and a certain percentage is for the owner with the cost covered by RBST.
As well as undertaking their own semen collections RBST will also purchase suitable semen that has already been collected and will undertake a shared collection if both the stallion owner and the RBST would like a collection.

If you have a Native Breed Stallion that you are planning to take for semen collection or you think would be of interest to the RBST then please get in contact RBST Field Officer Tom Blunt: tomblunt@rbst.org.uk

The RBST Watchlist

The RBST Watchlist is produced annually; it is the single most important document they publish. It is significant as it highlights any changes in breed population trends and so plots the success of one of the Trust’s key charitable objectives

The watchlist is divided into 6 categories:

Critical
Endangered
Vulnerable
At Risk
Minority
Other UK Native Breeds

The data is gathered from the relevant breed society, the breeds are then placed into the appropriate category based on species and the total number of registered breeding females in the United Kingdom. There are also other factors that affect a breed’s position on the watchlist such as geographical concentration.

There are more breeds native to the UK that are not classed as rare; these breeds are listed in Category 6 other native breeds, in the case of equines these are the Shetland Pony and the Welsh Pony and Cob. So far 16 breeds now in category 6 were previously in categories 1-5 and have successfully progressed into category 6. This clearly illustrates the successful work being carried out by dedicated breeders, breed societies and Rare Breed Survival Trust.

Any breed wishing to be accepted onto the Watchlist should submit a minimum of 25 years (preceding application) of continuous verifiable pedigree data in the form of annual registrations. If electronic records exist, these should be supplied in full. Any supplementary information will be discussed with the Breed Society before use. In addition, all breed analyses will be released only to the Breed Society in the first instance – all subsequent releases must come with Breed Society approval. A breed whose numbers of registered breeding females are estimated by the Trust to be below the Category 6, “Other Native Breeds”, threshold will be accepted into the appropriate Watchlist category.

A numerical guide to the 2017-18 Equine Watchlist categories:

Category Horses
1. Critical Fewer than 300

Cleveland Bay Horse, Dales Pony, Eriskay Pony, Hackney Horse and pony, Suffolk Horse

2. Endangered 300-500
Dartmoor Pony, Exmoor Pony
3. Vulnerable 500-900
Clydesdale Horse, Fell Pony, Highland Pony
4. At Risk 900-1500
New Forest Pony, Shire Horse
5. Minority 1500-3000
6. Other native breeds Greater than 3000
Shetland Pony
Welsh Pony and Cob