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SVF works to preserve valuable heritage breeds

June 19, 2014

NEWPORT – Those who have driven down Harrison Avenue in Newport are familiar with the sprawling 45 acres dotted with stone buildings. Livestock may occasionally be seen grazing beyond the fence; and only a modest sign marks the gated entrance to SVF.
Visitors only have the opportunity one day every June to learn about cryopreservation and the work being done to preserve endangered livestock breeds in Newport, at what, to the average passerby, may appear to be just a typical farm.
But the Swiss Village Foundation, or SVF, is far from average. SVF works to preserve germplasm from rare and endangered breeds of food and fiber livestock, working to collect 200 embryos and 3,000 straws of semen per breed. With that genetic material, SVF will be able to reawaken a breed, with its full genetic diversity, within one generation.
At Saturday’s open house, visitors got to see SVF’s efforts first hand, including how germplasm is preserved. Jim Izzi, a carpenter at SVF, explained that liquid nitrogen, which has a temperature of approximately 300 degrees Fahrenheit, is used to preserve the samples.
“The embryos are the size of a pinhead or a grain of salt,” he said.

For more of this story pick up a copy of your local Southern Rhode Island newspaper.

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