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Last Updated: Monday, 6 November 2006, 04:16 GMT
Rescue plan for rare farm animals
A Farm
The aim is to protect the genetic diversity of rare breeds
Rare breeds of farm animals in danger of dying out are being targeted by a new rescue plan involving the government and breeders.

Some 100 of the UK's 130 native breeds are at risk of disappearing.

It is hoped a combination of sperm and egg banks, along with the protection of existing live animals, will help to safeguard the future of rare breeds.

The efforts are an attempt to protect genetic diversity that may prove to have valuable traits in the future.

BBC environment correspondent Tom Heap said: "The genetic diversity is what is really valuable.

"Too often these unusual varieties are squeezed by commercial pressure or threatened in their enclave by infectious diseases, like foot-and-mouth."

Our correspondent went on: "In the future they may prove to have highly valuable traits or qualities of disease resistance - and if they go, that is lost."

He said the plan "urges the government and industry to work harder to ensure the spread and vigour of live herds and investigate improved stores of genetic material".


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See what the rare breeds rescue plan entails



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