A North East farmer has been elected vice chairman of national conservation charity Rare Breeds Survival Trust (RBST).

Ryan Perry, from Gateshead, will help lead RBST as the UK-wide charity works to conserve and promote the UK’s rarest native breeds of livestock and equines.

Native breeds with strong links to the North East and which are currently categorised as "priority" or "at risk" on the RBST watchlist include Original Population Dairy Shorthorn cattle, Chillingham Wild cattle, Teeswater sheep, the Dales pony and the Old English Goat.

The Northern Farmer: Ryan Perry with some of his herd of rare Tamworth pigs

Ryan developed a strong interest in the UK’s rare livestock breeds during his childhood when his family lived along the road from a community farm in Gateshead. In time, alongside his work as a biomedical scientist in the NHS, Ryan became a first generation young farmer. He now grazes a range of rare breeds on land throughout Gateshead and in Northumberland including Tamworth and Large Black pigs, Shetland cattle, Bagot goats, and Castlemilk Moorit and Hebridean sheep, among other breeds.

The Northern Farmer: Ryan Perry with some of his herd of rare Tamworth pigs

"I am very pleased to be elected RBST vice chairman at this very important time for the UK’s rare native livestock and equine breeds," he said. "The changes in government food and farming strategy are creating a once-in-a-generation chance to forge the shape of future policy and RBST is at the forefront, making a strong case for our native breeds and for the needs of their keepers.

“RBST combines great experience with new research and ideas, and I am looking forward to bringing to bear my scientific, analytical approach to this role alongside my enthusiasm for the UK’s wonderful, irreplaceable rare breeds. I'm also keen to help encourage and inspire the next generation of rare breed keepers, and to showcase the breadth of opportunities with native breeds for food production that goes hand in hand with the environment.”

RBST chief executive Christopher Price described Ryan as "a true champion for rare breeds with fantastic hands-on experience and great expertise in developing and implementing conservation strategies".