Miracle moment at Suffolk Punch farm

AFTER four decades of rearing the county’s most iconic horse, the Suffolk Punch, breeder Nigel Oakley says this spring has brought a “miracle” to his farm.

When one of the mares he cares for at Rede Hall Farm, near Bury St Edmunds, gave birth to a foal last month all seemed perfectly normal.

But tragically, within days of the birth, the mother picked up an infection that destroyed cartilage and resulted in one of her legs breaking.

Mr Oakes said they were left with no choice but to put her down.

“We were left with the young colt without its mother which makes things very difficult,” he said. “We planned to start hand rearing and feeding him with bottled milk, but there are many dangers with that so I thought I’d try taking him to one of the older mares I have on the farm just to see what would happen.”

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What happened left Mr Oakley stunned. Within 24 hours the mare began producing milk and suckling the colt – named Rede Renegade.

He said: “I have never seen anything like it in all my years working with the Suffolk Punch breed. It really is a miracle. She’s a lovely horse, but has not mothered in more than four years so I never thought for a minute she would produce any milk.

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“Not only is she suckling, but she became very protective of her adoptive foal and the pair have become completely inseparable.”

Vets who visited the farm at the weekend to take samples of the milk told Mr Oakley that it was quite low on protein so Rede Renegade is being fed extra food with a high protein count to make up for any deficiencies in his diet.

“Apart from that you would never know they were not mother and son, it’s utterly wonderful. Of course it was tragic to lose the mare, but this is as good an outcome as we could ever have dreamed of,” he added.

The Suffolk Punch breed is still classed as a category one, at risk breed. There are currently only 480 Suffolk Punch horses registered in the country.

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