December 12 2013 Latest news:
By Amie Keeley
Wednesday, February 27, 2013
ONE of the region’s most rare and beloved animals has welcomed a new stallion to the family.
Bowler, who was born and bred in Little Horkesley near Colchester, has become one of only 21 Suffolk Punch stallions to be included on the Suffolk Society Horse list.
To be classed a stallion the horse has to pass a series of rigorous tests as a means of preserving the unique and rare genetic make-up of the species.
The parents of a stallion must be registered in the Suffolk Stud Book - an official list of Suffolk Punches whose parents are known - and inspected by vets to ensure he is free from hereditary defects.
The horse is then examined by the Suffolk Horse Society not earlier than the January of the year in which the stallion attains his second birthday and a license is issued.
It means Bowler, who was born in May 2010, can breed with four of the mares who live on the farm and hopefully go some way to increase the critically endangered Suffolk Punch.
In the peak of their population there were 300,000 Suffolk Punches, but today there are now just 372 male and female Suffolk Punches left who are capable of breeding in the UK stud book.
A popular workhorse on farms in East Anglia due during the First World War, numbers began to fall by the Second World War when advanced farm mechanisation was introduced, combined with a need for more efficient food production.
Daniel Bunting, who runs the Horkesley Park stud of Suffolk Punches said: “We are delighted to have our first licensed stallion at our stud. He was bred and trained on our farm in Little Horkesley by our fantastic team who plan to try and cover four of our mares this year, so watch this space.”
Amanda Hillier from the Suffolk Horse Society said: “We’re always pleased to have licensed stallions because we’re always trying to keep the breed pure from a very small stud base, while not reducing the genetic type of the animal.
“We are very proud. It’s great for the owners and it’s great for the county.”