The arrival of a new Suffolk Punch foal at a Suffolk farm park has been welcomed by a charity dedicated to protecting the critically-endangered species.

Easton Farm Park welcomed the new-born filly, which has subsequently been named Iris, on April 6.

The foal was born two weeks overdue to eight-year-old mother Ruby, but was said to be doing well by the park's staff.

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By coincidence, Hollesley-based charity Suffolk Punch Trust has also welcomed its first Suffolk Punch foal of 2023 when mother Colony Edith gave birth to a filly, sired by Craikhow Hall Jensen, on April 3.

A spokesperson for the trust said: "We are always excited about all new Suffolk Punch foals and especially fillys."

However, the Punch is considered be in danger of becoming extinct, with figures from conservation charity Rare Breeds Survival Trust showing fewer than 72 breeding Suffolk Punch mares, with less than 500 registered horses in the UK.

READ MORE: Rarer than pandas - everything you need to know about the Suffolk Punch

East Anglian Daily Times: Foal Iris with mother RubyFoal Iris with mother Ruby (Image: Easton Farm Park)

These figures make the Suffolk Punch more rare than the panda.

Every Suffolk Punch in existence today can trace its lineage back to Crisp's Horse of Ufford, which is widely regarded to be the first one.

This foundation sire was foaled in 1728 and up until the 1960s, there used to be three breeding lines of Suffolk Punches, although two died out, leaving just one left.

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The Suffolk Punch was bred as a working horse on the farms of East Anglia and was considered a great source of power.

They were also noted for being a 'clean legged' breed, meaning they did not have hair on their legs, which suited the heavy clays of the region and meant that they did not have mud stuck to their legs at the end of the day and did not need to be cleaned.

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This, coupled with their size and stature, made them a great asset for a working farm.

However, the increasing mechanisation of agriculture resulted in the species no longer being needed for farm work and numbers declined.