A few weeks ago (7th Jan) BBC’s Countryfile looked at what is being done to preserve rare native breeds in the UK, looking specifically at our native horses. I finally got round to watching it and thought it touched upon some really interesting ideas, albeit fairly briefly.
The program followed the theme of reproductive technology being used to save our native breeds such as; the Eriskay, Shire and Fell. It is still available on BBC IPlayer, but I’m not sure for how much longer! So make sure you watch it before it is gone. The horse bits are towards the end of the program.
The Rare Breed Survival Trust (RBST) is doing some fantastic work to preserve these breeds by creating breeding programs for the horse population they have left. But they are also collecting and freezing semen, eggs and embryos so that if things went wrong, they have a spare population of horses they could then use to help rebuild the breed. They currently have DNA from 70 horses frozen in their system, but they really need 350+ to have a good population size.
The program also visited Stallion AI, where they are doing a lot of work with the RBST by collecting from rare stallions and storing the samples. However, Stallion AI are more than just a sperm bank for rare native breeds, they also host many top warmblood stallions during their career, including Nick Skelton’s Gold Medal rider Big Star.
These are both areas I want to build on in future blog posts. But due to the time ticking on watching the episode on IPlayer, I wanted to get a brief post out telling you about the program while it is still available. So keep your eye out in the future for more on these topics!