Semen from three Highland stallions, including the Queen’s Balmoral Moss, has been added to a sperm bank set up by the Rare Breeds Survival Trust (RBST) to ensure the survival of Britain’s most threatened native breeds.

Balmoral Moss, Fyfedene and Carlung Ebony travelled from Scotland to Shropshire to visit artificial insemination specialists Genus Equine’s collection centre to have their semen collected and added to the RBST’s gene pool.

The RBST “ReGENEration Bank” programme was launched at the height of the FMD crisis in 2001 to store sufficient breeding material to prevent a major disease outbreak from posing a threat to any of Britain’s rare livestock breeds.

Stored in liquid nitrogen, the semen will remain viable almost indefinitely providing valuable gene pools for future use.

The initiative has already seen semen collected from the Irish Draft, Eriskay, Dales, Dartmoor and Cleveland Bay breeds, which are among the 11 native equine breeds listed with the RBST. Semen hasalso been generously donated to the RBST project by the Shire Horse Society.

However, the second phase of the collection procedure, which would see semen collected from the remaining five breeds, including the endangered Fell and Exmoor ponies, may have to be put on hold due to a lack of funding.

“We launched the National ReGENEration Appeal to help raise funds for the project but have only collected around £800,000 of the £2.5m needed to complete the work. Funds for the projectare now running perilously low and this may force us to postpone phase two of the collection,” says Lynn Godsall of the RBST.

If you would like to make a donation, or find out more about the Rare Breeds Survival Trust’s work, visit www.rare-breeds.com

For more information about Genus Equine (tel: 0870 872 7799) or visit: www.genusequine.com