A NEW survey has revealed that choosing native breed livestock means overall costs are lower, compared to choosing continental breeds. 

The Rare Breeds Survival Trust (RBST) conducted a Commercial Trends Survey 2023 of farmers in the south west who keep both native and continental breeds or who have switched from continental breeds to native breeds. According to the survey, 73% said that overall costs with native breeds were lower than with continental breeds. 

This compares with 7% who said native breed costs were higher and 20% who said costs were the same.

Sally Lugg, who farms with native breeds in Cornwall and runs premium Cornish pork business The Primrose Herd, said: “Whilst native breed pigs take longer to finish we use a lower percentage protein feed which is cheaper than commercial diets. There is also less labour needed as we do not routinely use antibiotics, teeth clip, castrate or tail dock.”

When asked about feed and supplement costs, 87% said they thought their feed and supplement costs were lower with native breeds than their experience or expectation with continental breeds. 

As well as this, 73% of respondents said their costs related to the type of land required are lower with native breeds than with continental breeds.

"The fact that our hardy native breeds generally require lower inputs has become even more appealing as costs such as feed and supplements have skyrocketed, and look set to stay elevated," said RBST chief executive, Christopher Price.

"The chance to insulate against higher input costs, coupled with the opportunity to sell native breed produce for a premium thanks to its high quality and provenance, creates a strong opportunity for commercial success not only in the current inflationary environment but looking at longer-term resilience too.”

When asked about barriers to growth, 57% of respondants across the UK consider the lack of suitable abattoir as one of the greatest barriers to growing their native breed business.

“The survey results show a thriving and dynamic native breeds sector with strong levels of investment and positivity about future growth, particularly related to increasing consumer interest in the environmental impact, welfare standards, local provenance and quality of the meat they eat," added Mr Price.

"However concern remains high that the lack of local abattoirs suitable for native breed farming is a frustrating barrier to growth. We have been drawing Government’s attention to this problem and suggesting solutions, and we welcome the Farming Minister’s announcement of the Small Abattoir Fund. Translating the announcement of the fund into positive action on the ground, and soon, is critical.”