NI Breeds at Risk Register

The Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs maintains the Northern Ireland Breeds at Risk Register (NIBARR).

The purpose of the NIBARR

The purpose of the NIBARR is to identify any rare breeds in advance of an outbreak of epizootic disease such as Foot and Mouth Disease or Avian Influenza. This will allow the Department to consider using provisions under current European law to exempt certain categories of animals, including breeds at risk, from culling during disease outbreaks provided that disease control measures are not jeopardised. The decision to exempt animals from culling will be based on the outcome of a veterinary risk assessment which will consider the situation on individual premises as well as other factors such as wider disease control measures and impact on trade.

Registration on the NIBARR is voluntary and free of charge to owners.

This list of breeds at risk has been determined from the expert advice of the UK Farm Animal Genetic Resources Committee. Further information on some of the definitions used in the criteria and frequently asked questions is on the UK Farm Animal Genetic Resources Committee website.

This is not a closed list, and if evidence can be provided to support the criteria, the UK Farm Animal Genetic Resources committee will consider further submissions to include additional breeds on the list. Equally, a breed can be removed from the list if it no longer fulfils all criteria.

The criteria for eligibility to the UK breeds at risk lists

For a breed to be included on the UK list of breeds considered to be at particular risk in the event of an outbreak of exotic disease it must:

  • be a native breed, as defined below
  • be eligible for inclusion in the UK National Breed Inventory, as defined below
  • have a population of registered breeding females below the thresholds shown in the table below

Definition of a breed for the purpose of the UK National Breed Inventory

A livestock breed, in the UK context, is an interbreeding population of husbanded or formerly husbanded domesticated animals of consistent genotype and phenotype with a recognised history and administrative framework.

Eligibility of a “breed” for inclusion in the UK National Breed Inventory

To be included in the UK National Breed Inventory a breed should satisfy both of the following conditions:

  • it fulfils, or potentially fulfils, a role in the rural economy. This condition may be satisfied by evidence that the breed has been, at some time in the past, viable in numbers that exceed criteria for being at risk by UN FAO standards
  • less than 10% of the aggregate genetic contributions to the population over the last 4 generations are derived from other resources distinct from foreign herd books recognised as representing the same breed

Definition of a “native breed”

For a breed to be considered native, the breed should satisfy all of the following criteria:

  • the breed satisfies the criteria for inclusion in the UK National Breed Inventory described above
  • breed history documents the breed origin within the UK (including from an amalgamation of native breeds) and the UK has formed the primary environment for the development of the breed. Breed history documents its presence in the UK in its current adapted form for a qualifying period of at least 40 years or 6 generations whichever is the longer period of time. Less than 10% of the aggregate genetic contributions to the population over the qualifying period are derived from other resources distinct from foreign herd books recognised as representing the same breed
  • a minimum of 80% of the genetic contributions from any generation of ancestors within the qualifying period must come from ancestors that were (i) registered in the breeds herd book and (ii) born in the UK. An exception to this may be granted as part of an approved conservation scheme. Henceforward, all conservation schemes that may threaten native status should be notified to Defra

Thresholds for number of registered breeding females in UK population

Species Thresholds for population of registered
breeding females
Cattle <3000
Equines <3000
Goats <3000
Pigs <1500
Poultry <1000
Sheep <3000

Further information on some of the definitions used in the criteria and frequently asked questions is available from the defra website.

Defra Research

Publication of Defra Research: Development of co-ordinated in situ and ex situ UK Farm Animal Genetic Resources conservation strategy and implementation guidance.

A research project funded by Defra, has been completed reviewing conservation strategies and breeding plans as they relate to the UK's farm animals genetic resources. The reports have been published and can be accessed via the Defra Farm Animal Genetics Resources website.

Key outputs of the project have been reports on the policy backround to conservation of livestock breeds, on the practicalities of individual identification and traceability, and on how effictively genetic variation in the UK's native breeds is being conserved. Some guidance is also offered to breed societies on how they might foster the conservation of genetic variation within their breeds.

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