2017-09-29 

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Heavy Horses to Die Out Within a Decade Without Help

The Rare Breed Survival Trust (RBST) is very concerned about the plight of the heavy horses and has launched a campaign to save our heavy horses, at their National Livestock Gene Bank conference.

It is hoped the RBST campaign will help raise awareness of the plight of the UK’s heavy horses (Clydesdale, Suffolk Punch and Shire) and also increase donations which will help to fund the collection of much-needed genetic material for the Gene Bank.

Suffolk Punch

Suffolk Punch
pic: Andrew Atterwill, Earsham Wetland Centre

These gentle giants were once a familiar sight in every town and village in the country, as they managed the land by pulling drays and ploughing the fields.

The decline began during World War One, when thousands of heavy horses died whilst hauling heavy artillery into the trenches. Numbers steadily increased during the period in-between the World Wars, only to steeply drop after the introduction of tractors. As the UK embraced industrialisation with the mechanisation of transport, agriculture and industry, there was consequently no need to keep them.

RBST are raising awareness that if we wish to keep our heritage alive, we need to support the National Livestock Gene Bank. Without collecting genetic material from these unique breeds now, we risk losing each of them forever.

We are calling for the public and government to support this gene banking in order to preserve our heavy horses, as well as our other rare and native breeds. Tom Beeston, RBST CEO ‘These heavy horses were here for us when we needed them, now it’s our turn to act to save these iconic breeds’.

The Numbers:

Save 1 horse: £68

Field Officer support for 1 day: £250

Save a full horse collection: £5000

Save a breed: £125,000

Save heavy horses: £375,000

RBST

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