A conservation charity, Rare Breeds Survival Trust (RBST), is encouraging consumers to choose the produce of the UK's rare native farm animal breeds during the festive period.

This action could critically support the preservation of Cumbria's endangered livestock breeds.

The North West region is known for birthing some of the UK’s rarest cattle breeds, such as the Whitebred Shorthorn cattle and the Northern Dairy Shorthorn cattle.

Several of the UK’s other rare native breeds, including British White and Norfolk Black turkeys, Embden geese, and British Saddleback pigs, have been bred on Cumbrian farms for generations.

This holiday season, the Natural Christmas Market at Barrow Outdoor Market, running on December 9 from 10am to 4pm, provides a perfect opportunity for shoppers to sample produce from native breeds.

Alongside a variety of local produce stalls, visitors can expect to enjoy live entertainment, participate in crafting activities, and even meet some of the country's rarest native sheep breeds and a Shetland pony at the Rare Breeds Survival Trust / Foundation For Common Land stand.

This market event is a result of a collaborative effort between RBST, Barrow BID, and Westmorland and Furness Council.

Rare Breeds Survival Trust Chief Executive Christopher Price said: “The farmers and smallholders in Cumbria who keep herds or flocks of rare native breed animals are key to saving these breeds from becoming extinct.

"Every person who buys native breed produce this Christmas will be helping create the vital markets needed for these farmers to carry on this work.

"It’s a great way to enjoy delicious food in the knowledge that you are making a real difference to the survival of these irreplaceable native breeds, and we look forward to seeing people at Barrow Natural Christmas Market for the opportunity to sample local produce and celebrate the people who make it.”

Local farmer, Maria Benjamin, who raises rare breeds including Whitebred Shorthorn cattle and Teeswater sheep at Nibthwaite Grange Farm near Ulverston, will be displaying her produce at the Natural Christmas Market.

Ms Benjamin said: “Christmas is a time of year to celebrate the people you care about with a thoughtful gift. Buying from small businesses not only supports local producers, but you have a gift with a unique story, something made with love and care.

"I'm looking forward to sharing stories about the native and rare breed wools we use in our tweeds and throws at the Natural Christmas Market.”

Consumers who miss the opportunity to attend the Natural Christmas Market at Barrow can still contribute to this cause.

Many of Cumbria’s native breed farmers distribute their produce through farm shops, farmers markets, selected supermarkets, and cheesemongers in the region or sell them online.