Suffolk

Suffolk punch foal 'vital' to breed's survival

Suffolk punch foal Image copyright Suffolk Punch Trust
Image caption The Suffolk Punch Trust said it was "thrilled" to welcome filly Colony Fern to its stud at Hollesley on the Suffolk coast

The birth of a rare Suffolk punch foal is "vital to the long term survival" of the breed, a horse society said.

The Suffolk Punch Trust said it was "thrilled" to welcome filly Colony Fern into the world at its stud in Suffolk.

Rare Breeds Survival Trust considers Suffolk punch horses to be critically-endangered. They have been described as being "rarer than the panda".

The Suffolk Horse Society said to have female born was "wonderful" and "even more beneficial" to the breed.

"We will have more breeding females that will help strengthen the population going forward," said Cara Lubbock, executive secretary of the society, which is the umbrella organisation for breeders, including the Suffolk Punch Trust.

'Versatile'

The society said 22 foals had been born so far this year across the UK, 12 colts and 10 fillies.

It said it would need at least double that for the breed's survival status to no longer be "critical".

Image copyright Easton Farm Park
Image caption A male foal, or colt, called General Easton was born at Easton Farm Park in Suffolk at the end of April

Suffolk punch horses were an essential part of agriculture for hundreds of years.

Tracey Pettitt, stud manager at Suffolk Punch Trust at Hollesley near Woodbridge, said a key to the breed's survival was promoting its "versatility", including using the horses for forestry work and riding them.

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