Why do British Soay Sheep need to be registered with the Rare Breeds Survival Trust?
Our sheep are a link to the past, embedded in British history. Through the RBST registry, we can trace back our sheep to St. Kilda. The diverse genetics that Soay still retain links back to the origins of the breed. Loosing sheep through non-registration narrows the available gene pool that helps to keep the diversity of the breed.
Our sheep are not only a connection to the past, but the hope for the future. As keepers of British Soay sheep, our responsibility extends to the whole breed. RBST Field Officer Ruth Dalton explains “We are custodians of part of a data set that consists of the whole breed. If breeders are not registered with a breed society and registering the offspring of their animals, those animals cannot be included in research into breed characteristics and parameters, giving at best an incomplete picture and at worst dramatically inaccurate conclusions. “ (Dalton, R . Why Register?, The Ark, Winter 2011) This affects our goals to maintain the genetic diversity in Soay and to replicate the characteristics that Soay have in the wild. When people choose not to register their lambs, the information on the non-registered sheep limits the information we have available to make breeding decisions that has an effect on the breed as a whole.
Everyone that owns British Soay benefits from keeping them. Registration is about British Soay benefitting from us. Each lamb that is kept off the registration is as though it has been sent to slaughter. Registration is inexpensive and simple. Contact http://www.rbst.org.uk/ for more information.