New Zealand Rare Breeds Website: – Information
Mohaka rams

About the Rare Breeds
Conservation Society of New Zealand

Feral goats on Arapawa Island, at the northern end of the South Island.  (Photo by Betty Rowe.) Feral goats on Arapawa Island, at the northern end of the South Island.

      As animal breeders have constantly sought to improve their livestock, some of the original breeds have dwindled to low numbers and even died out.  In Britain alone over twenty breeds of farm animals have become extinct since 1900.   Worldwide, the rate of loss has been estimated as about one breed per week, so the genetic diversity of livestock is rapidly becoming reduced.   A common breed can become rare and then extinct in a very short time unless someone is caring for it.   This has happened to sheep, cattle, goats, pigs, poultry and horses.

      In New Zealand there are true breeds that are rare both here and overseas.   There are also feral strains that are of historical and scientific interest, such as the Arapawa goats (see photo), Kaimanawa horses and Auckland Island pigs.   New Zealand can therefore play a part in the world-wide effort to preserve the world’s livestock diversity. (See Loss of Biodiversity in Livestock.)

Annual Rare Breeds auction in Christchurch.  (Trotter/McCulloch photo.) The annual Rare Breeds auction in Christchurch is attended by buyers and sellers from all over the South Island. For details see  Auction Notice .

Does it matter?
    Farmers naturally want to use the most productive, healthy and hardy stock they can, and to produce for the current market – which inevitably changes according to consumer requirements.   For a variety of reasons it is worth retaining the original breeds:
• They may have been superseded by today’s fashions, but they still represent unique “genetic packages” for use again some time in the future.
• Market fashions change.   Lean sheep are now favoured over fat, and goats are now valuable to many farmers who used to shoot them as pests.
• Rare breeds often retain desirable characteristics that can be incorporated in new improved breeds of livestock.
• Genetic engineering is rapidly revolutionising breeding work but it still needs the appropriate genes on which to draw.
• Rare and unusual breeds provide material for research on the evolution of domestic characteristics.
• Feral types illustrate how animals change when they run wild, and in New Zealand they illustrate aspects of our colonising history.

Rare Breed Cape Barren goose (Photo Jeanette McIsaac) The Cape Barren Goose is a rare breed from across the Tasman.

Why have a Society?
    Many people find unusual animals attractive to look at, to breed, to keep or to exchange with friends.   On their own they can do only so much.   Getting organized can help them develop contacts, share experience, get advice, build up their knowledge and avoid mistakes and losses.   As a group, lay people, scientists and managers can do much more than individuals working alone.   And they can develop a common voice in the interests of endangered livestock.
    The aims of the Rare Breeds Conservation Society are:
• To catalogue the holdings and locations of rare and unusual livestock (Registration and Inventory).
• To foster official and amateur efforts to preserve rare breeds, special breeding groups, and feral types.
• To publicize livestock genetic conservation at meetings and shows, and in the popular press.
• To maintain contact with overseas societies and international agencies.
• To organize rescue and breeding programmes.
The Society has established a Rare Breeds Gene Bank to help retain valuable genetic material by cryopreservation.

    The Rare Breeds Conservation Society of New Zealand, was founded in 1988 and is administered by a Committee elected under its Constitution. The Society maintains contact and exchanges publications with similar overseas organizations – the Rare Breeds Survival Trust (UK), the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy (ALBC), Rare Breeds Canada, the Rare Breeds Trust of Australia, and FERME (France) – and it is a member of Rare Breeds International. (See our Links page for links to these and other organizations.)

Website Details
© All New Zealand Rare Breeds Website material is Copyright – in the first instance to the writer or photographer concerned, secondly to the compilers of this website and thirdly to the Rare Breeds Conservation Society of New Zealand Incorporated.     All Rights Reserved World Wide.   See Website Information for details on this website.

Miniature Horse and Shropshire sheep (Trotter/McCulloch photo) A small Miniature Horse stands beside a large Shropshire sheep on Kuehns’ Waitangi property, Canterbury.

Benefits in joining the Society
• Your interests can be put into action.
• Free Buy and Sell advertisements on Webmart.
• Free listings in the Breeders Directory.
• A quarterly magazine, Rare Breeds NewZ.
• 33% discount on webpage/website design and hosting.
• Annual Conference/AGM.
• Advice on obtaining and looking after Rare Breeds of livestock.
• Contact with others with similar aims and interests.
• You will be helping to conserve genetic diversity in livestock.

See Join the Rare Breeds Society for details about joining on line or by post.

See our Links page for links to other Rare Breeds organizations, specialist groups, allied interest groups, and personal advertising/information pages; or the Breeders Directory for links to personal advertising and information sites and pages.

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