Animal Genetic Resources

The conservation of many Dutch farm animals is under pressure. Breeds like the Veluwe Heath Sheep, Red and White Friesian cow and Dutch Hookbill Duck are at risk of becoming extinct, and we are also seeing a decline in genetic diversity within breeds.

Genetic diversity is essential for addressing changes in cattle farming. The transition to circular agriculture, for example, demands resilient animal breeds that remain healthy and productive in a wide variety of conditions.

The Centre for Genetic Resources, the Netherlands (CGN) supports the conservation of breeds and conserves genetic material in its genebank.

Genetic material in the genebank and CGN’s knowledge of the conservation of genetic diversity are crucial for the preservation of rare breeds
Geert Boink - Chairman of the Dutch Rare Breed Survival Trust (SZH)

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What we can do for you


CGN monitors the risk status of farm animal breeds in the Netherlands. This involves aspects such as population size, animal number trends and the risk of inbreeding. Breed societies can turn to CGN for advice, and CGN also provides access to information on animal breeds in the Netherlands via the European and global database.


The animal genebank is a unique source of genetic diversity for breeding and research. CGN conserves over 300,000 doses of sperm in liquid nitrogen at -196° Celsius. Breed societies can request material from this collection to support breeding programmes of rare breeds and for the long-term development and adaptation of breeds. In case of calamities, breeders and breed societies can also call on the collection; for example: when a breed has become extinct after a disease outbreak.

Advice to breed societies and policy makers

CGN advises breed societies, civil society organisations, companies and the Dutch government on the conservation and sustainable application of genetic diversity in farm animals. Research is mainly focused on analysing genetic diversity in and between populations and continuously improving cryo-conservation methods for sperm, embryos and oocytes.

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