Heritage theme for rare breed auction

Canterbury's rare breeds auction marks 25 years of helping to preserve heritage breeds.

The Rare Breeds Conservation Society of New Zealand Canterbury section will hold its 25th annual rare breeds auction at Willowbank Wildlife Park, near Christchurch, this Sunday, March 9, with a heritage lifestyle theme.

"The society has been running for 30 years and the auction was started 25 years ago. We only missed one year, because of the earthquakes," auction co-ordinator Blair Culling said.

"The auction raises money for the work we do to preserve the rare breeds, including the heritage breeds which were the mainstay of farming in New Zealand in years gone past."

The auction helped fund the Gene Bank, which has been developed in partnership with North Canterbury company Xcell Breeding Services, funding genetic research around the Auckland Islands, rescuing breeds like kune kune pigs and goats and sheep from Arapawa Island and preserving Shire horses, Highland cattle and Hokonui and Clarence River sheep.

"The work of the society is not just any one species. We are involved in all sorts things, from birds to draught horses, sheep, pigs, goats, llamas and alpacas."

About 1200 to 1500 people were expected to attend the poultry auction and heritage breeds display.

"At the poultry auction, you can buy anything from doves, pigeons to purebred chooks, geese, ducks and turkeys.

"The heritage breeds display is where people with heritage breeds and all the things that go with it, can display and sell their stock on site."

The stalls offered "everything from heritage produce to seeds and plants and animals".

"If someone was looking for something which is not quite mainstream, for example if you're looking for hens which lay green eggs to have with your ham for breakfast, you can find them here."

While poultry and animals could be purchased online, Mr Culling said the auction offered people the chance to see what they were buying and to speak to breeders and experts.

Mr Culling said the success of the day was thanks to the support of Willowbank Wildlife Park, which was once again offering half price admission to the park and auction ($10 for adults and $5 for children).

"Lots of people come together to make the day happen. We couldn't do it without Willowbank and the rare breeds people working together."

- The 25th annual Canterbury Rare Breeds Auction will be held on Sunday, March 9, at Willowbank Wildlife Park, with viewing at 10am and the auction from 1pm.

- by David Hill

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