Numbers of Suffolk punch foals rise, but still more work to be done
- Credit: Archant
There has been an increase in the number of young of one of Suffolk’s most iconic breeds, the Suffolk Punch.
The Suffolk Punch is the oldest surviving breed of heavy horse, but despite this its population has struggled in recent years making it one of the rarest breeds as well.
As a result of this the number of foals being born each year is carefully monitored.
This year the number of foals born globally has increased from 26 in 2018 to 33 in 2019.
The Suffolk Horse Society had hoped that the number would be closer to 36 but in the end not all of the pregnancies were completed.
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"We had 41 pregnancies but of all of those some of the mares experiences complications and still births," said Cara Lubbock, executive secretary of the Suffolk Horse Society.
"But we have 33 foals who are huge now. They have grown so quickly."
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The first Suffolk foal to be born in Suffolk this year was Sir Frederick or Fred from the Coxwell Stud in Ufford.
Heather Glockling, who runs the stud with her husband, said that the youngster had grown up well over the year and had since been sold on to a loving new home.
"It's lovely to see them grow," said Mrs Glockling.
"It was very sad to see him go. He was our first Coxwell foal.
"At the same time it was good to see he had a good home."
Despite the increase in foal numbers, there is still much work that needs to be done to help save the breed.
Mrs Lubbock said that for the Suffolk Punch to stop being considered so endangered at least 50 Suffolk foals would have to be born each year.
"We have less than 80 breeding mares and we had 66 mares covered last year," said Mrs Lubbock.
"We are hoping to increase that year on year."
Mrs Lubbock said that having mares covered was still expensive but that the society was doing all it could to help owners through breeding and travel grants as well as looking at different ways to help get mares pregnant in the future including through embryo transfer and artificial insemination.
"It is imperative that we do all that we can to ensure the survival of this magnificent breed of Heavy Horse for future generations to enjoy," said Mrs Lubbock.