Conserving livestock biodiversity

Conserving niche breeds

Over the last three decades now, around fifteen cattle breeds have been managed under on-farm conservation programmes for niche breeds. These programmes not only keep the national breedstock registry and work to enhance the value of existing genetic material (collecting/controlling market release of semen doses and embryos), but also aim to coordinate fieldwork and support initiatives with the breeder groups concerned.

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National Genetic CryoBank

The objective pursued by the National CryoBank is to ensure that the genetic biodiversity of all livestock species – from cattle, sheep and goats to donkeys, rabbits, poultry, and more – is sustainably conserved into the very-long-term. The genetic material conserved is sampled from stud animals in breeds that are under threat of extinction or breeds sidelined for selection schemes, as well as animals that are rarely bred despite presenting one or more stand-out traits, or animals with particular genotype sets.

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Key figures

  • 15 cattle breeds under on-farm conservation programmes
  • 1 341 adult cows in 1990
  • 8 509 adult cows in en 2010
  • 1 207 farms
  • 11 species
  • 137 breeds
  • 250 000 genetic samples