New equipment could help ensure survival of iconic Suffolk Punch

The Suffolk Punch trust have started a new breeding programme PICTURE: CHARLOTTE BOND

The future of the Suffolk Punch could be looking brighter thanks to new technology - Credit: Charlotte Bond

New equipment worth £20,000 will hopefully help ensure the future of the endangered Suffolk Punch. 

The Suffolk Punch Trust has fundraised to bring new technology to help ease some of the complications associated with breeding the much-loved species. 

The Suffolk Horse remains one of the most threatened of Britain's native horse species according to the Rare Breeds Survival Trust's watchlist.  

This year, 34 foals have been born around the world including one named Prince Philip who was born at the trust and has been recently purchased by it to help with its work. 

A Suffolk Punch foal has been born at The Suffolk Punch Trust and it's to be named Prince Philip Pi

Prince Philip the foal was born earlier this year - Credit: CHARLOTTE BOND

New scientific equipment will help vets to look at the quality of the sperm and store it correctly to ensure it can play a role in the breeding programme 

Another specialist piece of equipment can be mounted by the horses to help with sample collection.  

The Suffolk Punch trust have started a new breeding programme PICTURE: CHARLOTTE BOND

Specialist equipment will be used to help ensure the future of the Suffolk Punch - Credit: Charlotte Bond

"What we are doing here is engaging with the latest technology," said Andrew Fane, trustee of the Suffolk Punch Trust. 

"The whole purpose of everything we are doing here is to try and ensure the long term survival of the Suffolk Horse. 

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"We want to use any appropriate technology that will help us to do that. 

"One of the problems has always been the cost and effort of moving the mares to the stallions. 

"It's a very costly thing to do. So artificial insemination clearly has a role to play."

 The semen collected will be frozen so that it can be kept for the long term. 

The Suffolk Punch trust have started a new breeding programme PICTURE: CHARLOTTE BOND

Andrew Fane from the Suffolk Punch Trust - Credit: Charlotte Bond

"They will still be able to be using the semen when the stallions may very well be dead," he said. 

"It cuts out the interbreeding which is a problem with all rare breeds." 

Selecting the correct stallions for the job is key. 

"The Suffolk Horse Society, whose members own most of the horses, particularly the mares, have worked out the ten best stallions to use for future breeding programmes," said Mr Fane. 

"What they have looked for is bloodlines; looking for good features that have been bred in and bad features that have been bred out. 

"We have provided three out of the ten."

The Suffolk Punch trust have started a new breeding programme PICTURE: CHARLOTTE BOND

The samples will be analysed to help ensure they can be used for breeding - Credit: Charlotte Bond

Hopefully with the new technology and the best possible stallions the breed has its best possible chance of survival.

"It's in its early stages and there's a lot more to do," said Mr Fane. 

"But this is a vital building block."

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