Have You Ever Heard of The Suffolk Punch?
We wouldn’t blame you if you hadn’t. But it’s actually Britain’s oldest native breed, with records of the name dating back to 1586! But now the breed is teetering on the brink of extinction. The Breed originally took it’s name because of it’s strength and solid, stocky appearance. They were developed as farm horses but due to the industrial revolution in the late 19th and early 20th century, the Suffolk Punch fell out of favour. In fact, in the middle part of the last century the Suffolk Punch almost disappeared entirely.
What’s being done?
Luckily, there are dedicated landowners, farmers and horse lovers are now working to raise the numbers of this ancient breed. Last year around 30 Suffolk Punch foals were in the UK and this year the numbers are set to be higher and the effort to reintroduce this native breed increases. However, only 33% of those born between 2014-2016 were female which poses a threat to the number of mares that are able to carry foals. This means that scientists are considering using artificial sperm insemination so that the breeds longevity can be ensured. Some scientists have even suggested that they use the same technique that is used with cattle, called ‘sex sperm’ that can help produce more females. However this can become expensive and the results are not guaranteed. It can already cost around £7000 to get a Suffolk Punch mare through pregnancy!
There was good news earlier this month when a five year old mare, Withersfield Daisy, gave birth to a filly who has been named Kelsale lily. The father was a stud horse from the Suffolk Punch Trust, who work tirelessly to raise awareness of this beautiful breed.