A TOURIST attraction near Stafford has been honoured by the Rare Breeds Survival Trust for its work with local farmers to protect native livestock.
The Shugborough Estate, renowned for its opulent mansion house, also has a working farm which is home to some of the world's rarest breeds of pigs and sheep.
It has kept rare breed livestock for more than 30 years and has now been awarded Rare Breed Status by the RBST for its dedication, joining just 19 other accredited parks across the UK.
Councillor Mark Winnington, Cabinet Member for Economy and Infrastructure with Staffordshire County Council and a farmer himself, said: "I am delighted that Shugborough has been awarded the rare breed status which is a real pat on the back to the staff involved.
"Not only is Shugborough a fantastic place to visit with lots to see, but the fact that we are helping to protect some of the rarest breeds of pigs, sheep and cows in the world is great news.
"In addition, Shugborough's work with local farmers is both increasing numbers of these historic breeds and generating additional revenue within the Staffordshire farming economy by promoting high quality, high value luxury meat and dairy products to the market place.
"This is a proud achievement; it will give people even more reasons to visit Shugborough and will be great for our local tourism economy, drawing in visitors from outside the county."
Shugborough's residents include three Boreray Sheep – a breed on the RBST Critical list. There are less than 300 breeding animals left in the world.
Three Leicester Longwool sheep call Shugborough home – a breed classed as endangered – and there are also 22 Longhorn cattle, a Dairy Shorthorn cow, two Berkshire pigs, five Middle White pigs, a Shire horse, 13 Soay sheep, 50 Southdown sheep, 50 Shropshire sheep, and a Portland sheep.
An RBST spokesperson said: "We are very pleased with the work that Shugborough is doing to preserve these rare breeds and their awareness raising activities amongst the public. We are committed to helping to save our rare, historic and ancient breeds of British livestock and it is great to have Shugborough onboard to help us achieve this.
"We were particularly impressed with the way their staff have been working closely with farmers from across the county and region to spread the genetic pool of high value animals."
Shugborough is run by Staffordshire County Council in association with the National Trust.