COMPOST made from Exmoor Pony poo is helping to preserve one of the UK’s oldest and rarest native breeds.

The Exmoor Pony is on the Rare Breed Survival Trust’s watchlist as ‘endangered’.

Their future is being secured in part by farmer Dawn Westcott and her late husband Nick after they founded the Exmoor Pony Project in 2013.

To help with the task the couple started selling 25kg bags of poo harvested from their herd of ponies in Luccombe, Porlock Vale.

Mrs Westcott said: “The Exmoor Pony Project includes ponies from a variety of semi-feral moorland herds, as well as our own Holtball Herd 11 ponies.

“They live naturally, migrating from pasture to barns as they wish.

“The manure they produce evolves over a period of years into an excellent quality gradually and naturally-matured compost.

“It is very well rotted down, friable, and easy to handle and does not smell.

“It goes through our screening process which results in a wonderful, soil-like consistency, and is then bagged.

“It is a wonderful growing medium for vegetables, borders, containers, lawns, hedges, and tree planting.”

The compost is then sold at £7.50 a bag as a fund-raiser to help maintain the care and management of the Exmoor Ponies and safeguard the project.

Mrs Westcott said: “Our compost has received a big thumbs up from gardeners and it has featured on ITV’s Love Your Weekend with Alan Titchmarsh.”

The idea of using poo from the couple’s herd came as Mrs Westcott was creating a kitchen garden and Mr Westcott, suggested trying some of the pony manure.

It proved to be ‘superb stuff’ and coincided with a local shortage of good compost material, prompting Mr and Mrs Westcott to offer their own bags.

It quickly took off and thousands of bags of Exmoor Pony poo are now sold and delivered across the local area.

The Exmoor Pony breed goes back more than 17,000 years and at one time their numbers had fallen so low they were thought to be rarer than giant pandas.

Now, there are about 500 on the moor and another 3,500 worldwide.