What I Do
A native livestock specialist, I spent a decade working for the Rare Breeds Survival Trust, and now advise farmers, land managers and breed societies throughout the UK. I am passionate about native breeds and their place in sustainable farming systems.
I specialise in matching the right breed to the right place, and love finding practical solutions for farms of all sizes.
At home, I farm pedigree native cattle and sheep in the Lake District with my partner. We carefully manage our land and livestock to increase biodiversity and produce high-welfare, healthy food.
Past and current work
A selection of my work and projects:
Selected Mating Scheme
I currently work with the Manx Loaghtan Sheep Breeders Group on their new Selected Mating Scheme. We co-designed the scheme, using the Cloud-lines software for pedigree databases, to help breeders to identify and conserve the rarest genetics. The aim is to improve the genetic health of the breed, as measured by its effective population size.
Conservation breeding programme
Vaynols are the UK's rarest cattle breed and the population has been historically highly inbred. I coordinate a bespoke conservation strategy to help a private breeder ensure the Vaynol's survival
Conservation grazing courses
I am a LANTRA accredited trainer, delivering both "Livestock Checkers" and "Conservation Grazing in Practice" courses nationally for the Grazing Animals Project & Rare Breeds Survival Trust
I coordinated this farmer-led project showing the commercial value of primitive sheep breeds. Low-input sheep with high-quality meat and the added value opportunities of the wool, horns and skins
Familiar with all the major pedigree livestock registration systems, I can help breeders submit their birth notifications and pedigree applications, even if you've got in a bit of a muddle or have several years to catch up on!
Maria Benjamin & John Atkinson
"We have loved working with Ruth over the years. She always brings a great deal of knowledge but also warmth and genuine care to her work. She is a strong creative problem-solver and seems to thrive on challenging situations so is a brilliant asset to any project."
"I have known and worked with Ruth for 8 years and can say that her knowledge and experience relating to rare and native breeds is second to none. If I were thinking of taking on rare breeds in the future, I would definitely be seeking advice from Ruth."
John Rowell & Denise Richardson-Rowell
"We have been working with Ruth for a number of years on various enterprises. Her expertise has been invaluable and allowed us to build up a great variety of Rare Breeds here at Dumfries House Home Farm. Ruth's knowledge on various aspects is excellent and rises to every challenge. Her easy going manner and attention to detail makes it a pleasure to work along side Ruth. Hope we will be working together for many years."
North Ronaldsay Sheep Fellowship (former Secretary)
"I have known and worked with Ruth Dalton for the past eleven years. On behalf of the North Ronaldsay Sheep breeders, she was instrumental in selecting and transporting rams from the island to be placed in mainland flocks. She has been an enormous help in sorting out registration problems within the breed. All in all, Ruth has been a friendly, helpful ally in numerous projects and events."
University of Oxford
Master of Science (Integrative Bioscience) 2002-2003
Animal behaviour, British wildlife conservation
University of Edinburgh
Bachelor of Science (Zoology) 1998-2001
Genetics, Animal behaviour, Molecular Ecology
Ruth Dalton © 2021