Registration of animals is crucial for the conservation of rare breed livestock – but this year's cancelled farm show season threatens to set back those efforts.

The Rare Breeds Survival Trust this week urged animal keepers not to overlook breed registrations, despite there being no immediate pressure for their stock to be documented.

RBST chief executive Christopher Price said: “Every registration helps to give us a more accurate picture of the status of each rare breed, allowing us to analyse trends such as increases or decreases in numbers, and geographic distribution. These analyses inform our conservation objectives, decisions on the capture of genetic material, programmes to prevent inbreeding, and support for keepers’ commercial avenues. Some breeds must be registered within a certain timeframe so a delay can mean missing the boat.”

Registered animals are recorded in the relevant flock book, herd book or stud book, and some receive certificates. Progeny of unregistered animals cannot be registered, so one missed registration can interrupt a bloodline that has survived for generations.

Mr Price added: “For everyone involved with rare breeds, a longer term ambition should be that consumers come to value the proof of authenticity of buying produce from registered rare breed animals. Now that more and more producers are selling meat and wool directly to consumers, we have an opportunity to highlight that registration demonstrates an animal truly has the breed’s unique qualities.”

Many breeds allow online registration through the Grassroots system, and once registered those animals can be flagged as ‘available for sale’. Paper application can also be sent direct to the relevant breed society. Grassroots is soon to launch a new-look online registry and a linked mobile app for both Apple and Android phones to make it even easier to manage pedigree records, from grazing groups and birth information to shearing dates and applying for registration. More information will be available in the coming weeks on

Other breeds allow online registration through the Cloudlines platform. The Cloudlines platform ( allows for the recording of pedigree data from all breeds of livestock, including poultry. The platform is continuously evolving and has additional capabilities including interactive pedigree maps, the generation of genetic information regarding breed populations, stud-selector tool and automated exports of data to population analysis platforms.

Chief executive of the British Pig Association, Marcus Bates, said: “Herdbook registration and pedigree breeding are the foundations of rare breed conservation. Without pedigree breeders diligently registering their pigs many of our native breeds would now be extinct. The Lincolnshire Curly Coat was the last British pig breed to be lost in the 1970’s. Since then a small group of dedicated breeders supported by organisations like the British Pig Association and the Rare Breeds Survival Trust have ensured that no more of our wonderful native pig breeds have been lost. When you herdbook register your pigs you are joining one of the longest running and most successful conservation projects and ensuring that our native breeds are passed on to the next generation.”

Speaking from the Society of Border Leicester Sheep Breeders, Jennifer Struthers said: “Being on the RBST Watchlist it is vitally important that we can accurately track numbers of sheep in the country to help us understand the trends in numbers. The only way we can do this is if sheep are registered officially with the society. This can be full registration of pedigree animals as well as via birth notification.”