Chatsworth farmyard wins national charity accreditation for conservation success with rare animal breeds

The Chatsworth farmyard has been commended by a national charity for its staff’s conservation work with some of the UK’s rarest livestock breeds

Wednesday, 14th April 2021, 3:03 pm

The Rare Breeds Survival Trust (RBST) has bestowed the farmyard with its official accreditation, linking it to a network of 25 farm parks which take part in crucial conservation programmes, manage special breeding groups, and support education about rare breeds and why they matter.

RBST chief executive Christopher Price said: “Native breeds have an important place in a future for farming where sustainable production goes hand in hand with the natural environment, but they are also an irreplaceable part of our rural heritage.

“For centuries these animals ploughed our fields, took our soldiers to war and powered our industry, it would be devastating if they disappeared, and Chatsworth has been doing crucial work to support the survival of some of our rarest native breeds.”

Farmyard manager Melissa Underwood with two of Chatsworth's Eriskay ponies.

Among the breeds at Chatsworth designated as priority or at-risk by RBST are Suffolk punch horses, shire horses, Eriskay ponies, Gloucestershire old spot pigs, Bagot goats and cream legbar chickens. British landrace pigs will join them soon.

Farmyard manager Melissa Underwood said: “Since joining Chatsworth farmyard in September 2020 we have been increasing the numbers of rare breeds kept here.

“I am passionate about rare breeds and their conservation and look forward to sharing our journey and exciting new breeding programmes with our visitors.”

She added: “One of my best moments has been to discover that the Albion breed of cattle originated here in Bakewell. They were an obvious choice for us to have here and we hope to use them in our milking demonstrations later in the year.

A Bagot goat.

“We were lucky to be able to source our two females and look forward to welcoming their calves in the summer.”

The accreditation cements a long-standing relationship between Chatsworth and RBST. The farmyard has provided agricultural education for almost 50 years, and Duchess Deborah, mother of the current Duke of Devonshire, was once RBST president.

The farmyard reopened to visitors on Tuesday, April 13. For more details and ticket bookings, go to chatsworth.org/farmyard-playground.

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The Albion cattle are a recent addition to the farmyard.
The Suffolk punch horses are a big favourite with visitors.