There is a great variety of indigenous livestock breeds in Germany. For the large animal breeds horse, cattle, pig, sheep and goat alone, we count a total of 80 indigenous breeds.
In poultry, there are 33 chicken, 7 goose, 9 duck, 3 turkey and 3 pigeon breeds, and among rabbits, 30 breeds are defined as indigenous. An overview of all native breeds can also
be found in the brochure Indigenous livestock breeds in Germany and Red List of endangered livestock breeds 2021 (in German only).
For the planning of conservation measures for native livestock breeds, information on their risk status must be available. This is determined according to the National Programme
for the Conservation and Sustainable Use of Animal Genetic Resources in Germany on the basis of the population size published in TGRDEU. The National Advisory Committee on
Animal Genetic Resources regularly advises on the risk status. A distinction is made between large animals regulated by the zoo-technical legislations, poultry and rabbits.
The BLE publishes the results of the risk assessment in TGRDEU and in the form of a brochure.
The livestock breeds classified as endangered in the Red List by the Advisory Council on Animal Genetic Resources may receive payments. In addition, the zoo-technical and the animal health
legislation as well as the European TSE Regulation provide for derogations for endangered livestock breeds. The Red List published by the BLE provides the basis for respective decisions.
The BLE brochure is also relevant for organic farming. EU legislation on organic farming (Article 8 of Regulation (EC) No 889/2008) requires the preferential use of native livestock breeds.
The BLE brochure contains a complete list of all native livestock breeds. It thus provides important support to organic farms, organic inspection bodies and the relevant authorities in their work.
According to the national animal breeding law (§2 TierZG), an indigenous livestock breed is:
a) a breed for which a herdbook was first established on the basis of livestock available in Germany and which has been kept in Germany since then or, if the establishment dates back further, since 1949, or
b) a breed for which a herdbook was not first established in Germany, but for which now only in Germany herdbook and breeding program are installed, or
c) a breed for which a herdbook was not first established in Germany, but for which on the basis of livestock available in Germany a herdbook is kept at least since 1949 and a separate breeding program is conducted.
Furthermore, the National Advisory Committee on Animal Genetic Resources recommended that certain populations between which there is a substantial exchange of breeding animals be grouped together into a breed group. This recommendation was also implemented in the risk assessment.
The classification of the indigenous livestock breeds of large animals is mainly based on the calculated effective population size (Ne). This is calculated from the herdbook figures published in TGRDEU using the following formula:
4 x number of male animals x number of female animals
Ne = -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
(number of male animals x number of female animals)
However, in derogation of this a farm animal breed may also be classified in another risk category under special circumstances. In 2013, on the recommendation of the National Advisory Committee on Animal Genetic Resources, the classification into risk categories was revised. This concerns mainly all the deviations from the mathematically estimated endangerment of a farm animal breed. In the interests of improved transparency, reasons have been defined which may justify a deviation. There are four risk categories:
Not endangered (NG):
- Effective population size: over 1,000
- Possible deviations: If Ne is in favour of a higher risk category, the classification in NG can be provided for, if the new or synthetic breed is not consolidated for breeding purposes and can be reactivated at any time from existing initial breeds, the breed is not kept in an own stud book and the transfer to an own breeding bay is not intended, the creation of a cryoreserve is currently not necessary or the breed is so widespread worldwide that no risk is foreseeable.
- Measures: successful use in agriculture, no conservation measures required, monitoring
Observation population (BEO):
- Effective population size: between 200 and 1,000
- Possible deviations: If Ne is in favour of a higher risk category, BEO classification may be provided for if the population is stable and an effective breeding programme is used to maintain genetic variance. If Ne is in favour of the risk category NG, a classification in BEO can be provided if only regional distribution of the breed, a problematic breeder structure or the dynamics of the population decline indicate a risk potential.
- Measures: Cryo-conservation of semen required, Monitoring
Conservation population (ERH):
- Effective population size: less than 200
- Possible deviations: If Ne is in favour of a lower risk category, the classification in ERH can be provided for if only local distribution of the breed, a very problematic breeder structure or the dynamics of the population decline indicate a significant risk potential.
- Measures: Cryo-conservation of semen and conservation breeding programs required, Monitoring
Phenotypic conservation population (PERH):
- Breeds of national cultural importance in which the animal population cannot be genealogically clearly traced back to the original breed, the breed was already strongly mixed with other breeds when it was re-established, or had only gone back to very few animals, or the breed had only very small populations over several generations.
- From a zoo-technical point of view, these breeds can only be understood as rudiments. Monitoring is carried out.
In its Working Group on small animals, the National Advisory Committee on Animal Genetic Resources compiles the "List of Old Indigenous Poultry Breeds in Germany"
and the "List of Old Indigenous Rabbit Breeds in Germany".
Domestic poultry breeds are those which were created in Germany before 1949 or were demonstrably bred in Germany before this time and have or had an agricultural use; or those which were created in Germany and have been bred independently by a German breeding organisation for more than 50 years have or had an agricultural use. Only the original colourings are listed.
Domestic rabbit breeds are those which were created in Germany before 1949 or were demonstrably bred in Germany before this time and have or had an agricultural use. Only the original colourings are listed.
Classification in the risk categories is based on the risk index (GK). In calculating this risk index, the number of male and female breeding animals and the number of active
breeders are taken into account. The weighting by a factor of 2 is intended to take account of the particular importance of the number of breeders in the small animal sector.
Nm x Nw GK = Risk index
GK = 2 x NZ + ---------------- NZ = Number of breeders
Nm + Nw Nm = number of male animals
Nw = number of female animals
The hazard categories are as follows:
I Extremely endangered GK < 200
II Highly endangered 200 < GK < 400
III Endangered 400 < GK < 600
IV observation, currently not endangered GK > 600