SCIENTISTS at a Whitchurch location have again achieved a new first by setting up the UK’s first-ever livestock bio bank, securing herds for the future.

The UK National Livestock Biobank is a farm animal gene bank, established to ensure UK livestock breed and herd security for the future, based at Chapel Field Stud in Whitchurch, the home of Stallion AI.

Based upon semen and skin sample cryopreservation, the UK National Livestock Biobank aims to be the equivalent of the Millennium seed bank but for the crucial livestock sector.


Lucy Morgan is Biobank Lead at the project and said that its formation is because livestock breeds and food security are at risk as 75 per cent of food comes from just 12 plant and five animal species.

She added: “When a food producing animal dies, its genetics are lost to history.

“Even if semen is preserved, this only captures 50 per cent of the DNA of the animal.

Whitchurch Herald: Dr Tullis Matson.Dr Tullis Matson. (Image: Stallion AI.)

“These lost genetics may prove vital for future farm production, to respond to disease outbreaks, climate challenges or changes in animal fitness that can arise from breeding animals too closely related to achieve production targets.

“We firmly believe that we need to act to preserve and safeguard what is available to us today, to ensure a sustainable, resilient and adaptable tomorrow, with the multi model, regenerative cryopreservation model of the UK National Livestock Biobank providing the technology upon which this can be achieved.”

Lucy said the work is need because of the dangers posed by climate change to animal environments with around 30 per cent of livestock breeds at risk.

And she explained how it will work through skin preservation.

Lucy added: “Preserving skin is, for most species, the only way that the genetics of the maternal line can be captured and preserved for the future.

“Skin samples can also be taken from castrated and neutered animals and those that are sexually immature or beyond reproductive fitness.

Whitchurch Herald: Lucy Morgan with a tray of samples. Lucy Morgan with a tray of samples. (Image: Stallion AI.)

“This allows for greater genetic capture versus reliance on preservation by gametes alone.”

Dr Tullis Matson, from Stallion AI and a world leader in animal insemination, added: “We are living in changing times in terms of climate, disease risk, governmental pressures and changes in the farming system, a growing human population, and a cost-of-living crisis.

“All these factors, in addition to declining farm numbers and reduced uptake by the younger generation, pose serious risks to the stability of our livestock sector.

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“We already have seed banks…the same does not exist for food producing animals, and this is why we have formed the UK National Livestock Biobank.”

To ensure UK food security, the UK National Livestock Biobank aims to be government funded but also open to private animal owners, wishing to preserve their herd or flock genetics for the future.

All samples preserved by the biobank will be banked with regeneration in mind – that is the ability to create living cells and living organisms from the preserved material.