The Rare Breeds Trust of Australia is a not-for-profit organization, founded by a group of committed animal breeders and conservationists who work tirelessly to promote and educate the public on the need to conserve livestock genetic diversity. We are facing the largest mass extinction the world has ever seen and at the RBTA we do the grassroots work to promote the conservation of pure breeds of domestic livestock in Australia. On our website, you will find lots of useful information on breeds and species.
Why Do They Become Rare?
It is now more than three-quarters of a century since teams of Clydesdale horses pulling farm implements and carriers’ wagons were an everyday sight. As the introduction of the tractor started their demise so the advance of intensive farming has affected other breeds of livestock. An agricultural industry where the biggest profits are the driving force has resulted in bigger holdings run by fewer farmers, and the concentration of pig and poultry production into factory-like conditions. The consequences are hybridization and the demand for efficiency and of uniformity of stock.
The breeds of farm livestock common in the first half of last century fell from favour because of these societal and agricultural changes.
The Slippery Path to Oblivion
Lost forever are Australia’s Poland China and Chester White pigs. The Gloucester Old Spot disappeared around 1930. Middle White Pigs disappeared in the 1990’s. Cotswold and Wensleydale sheep breeds have also vanished.
Once a breed is gone it is gone forever!
What is significant about many of the old breeds is that they combined desirable production traits with distinctive table properties. Old breed literature frequently commented on the differing flavours found in various farm breeds. The Houdan fowl is one that was noted for not only a tender, early maturing carcass but for its delicious tasting eggs. The number of purebred Houdans in the Australia-wide National Poultry Survey in 2017 indicated that the numbers were very low with only 80 remaining
Conservation Is Important
Every effort should be made to conserve the remaining domestic production animal breeds whose numbers are declining, in some cases, rapidly
They are part of our heritage and deserve just as much recognition as old buildings, farm implements and other national treasures. Their retention is paramount in ensuring and securing Australia’s food sources in isolation from the threat of introduced diseases.
Genetic diversity is vital to healthy and sustainable food production, rare breeds often provide many traits that have been lost in modern "efficient" hybrid varieties
Preserving the diversity of domestic livestock is insurance for future trends and developments. We may need to call upon these breeds for specific traits to enhance the current industrial stocks, for example, characteristics like longevity, disease resistance, climate adaptability and structural soundness.
Most of the old domestic breeds are docile, easily managed and attractive to look at, in other words, they are fascinating and fun to be around, different breeds have differing personalities. This is the personal aspect of keeping an endangered breed.
The Purpose of the Trust
The Rare Breeds Trust offers the opportunity for like-minded people to work together to preserve endangered breeds of domestic livestock and learn from each other. We want to ensure that all members have a common voice in promoting our domestic purebred livestock as valuable for the future. Breed them for food and never stop telling people the world loses on average 3 breeds of domestic livestock per month. (FAO)
Please join us - your support is vital to ensure our work and the Trust continues with vigour to the future. Application for Membership is available on this site.