Herdwick gene bank success

Herdwick gene bank success

The latest herdy fund project that sponsored a trail blazing initiative to help protect and preserve the Lake District’s iconic Herdwick sheep breed has proved to be a huge success. A three-way collaboration between The Herdy Company, the Herdwick Sheep Breeders Association (HSBA) and Newton Rigg Agricultural College has resulted in 19 embryos being harvested from three new Herdwick flocks. Six pure bred ewes from fell farms across the county were brought together at Sewborwens Farm, Newton Rigg College. The 19 embryos were collected by students under a closely monitored eight-week programme and are now frozen and stored in The Herdwick Heritage Gene Bank. Spencer Hannah, co founder and director of herdy, said: “Herdwick sheep are the iconic breed of the Lake District and we are really pleased that our herdy fund has been able to make this forward thinking initiative happen. The fact that 19 embryos have been successfully harvested is a great result and really does make you smile. The project has also provided a fantastic learning opportunity for the students at Newton Rigg College who helped care for the Herdwicks and learn about the complex techniques of embryo collection.”Amanda Carson from HSBA, added: “The HSBA are absolutely delighted that 19 embryos have been successfully collected and frozen from three important flocks that are not currently represented in the gene bank. I cannot stress enough how complex and costly this process is, and to achieve such a great result is fantastic for the Herdwick breed now and in the future.” Herdwicks are the foundation of fell farming, which is one of the most sustainable agricultural systems in the UK today, in which the needs of the wild habitat and those of the domesticated animals are balanced and nurtured. Essentially, the environment of the high fells is maintained by the grazing of the sheep. Herdwicks have been in the Lake District for over a thousand years and have become supremely adapted to the harsh environment of the high fells. The 19 embryos will be added to the five Herdwick flocks already in the The Herdwick Heritage Gene Bank. In 2016 to mark the centenary of the HSBA, The Herdy Company came forward to help mark the occasion by offering to fund a collection of Herdwick embryos to enhance the existing collection. For more information about other herdy fund projects and what the fund has accomplished since it was set up in 2008, check out www.herdy.co.uk/about/herdyfund

herdwick sheep