If you could introduce any new animals to the farm, which would you choose?

Each month, we ask you to share your questions about farming, food or Sacrewell with us on Facebook. The person who writes the best question wins a free family admission pass for a day at the farm, as well as having their question answered on our website. This question came from Dawn Burbidge.

In short, Suffolk Punch horses.

Suffolk Punch horses were once the backbone of farming in East Anglia and could be seen regularly pulling ploughs across the fields. During World War 1, many were sent to the front to pull heavy artillery, which led to a drop in their numbers. The second hit on this beautiful breed came in the 1960s as farmers gradually replaced horses with tractors and their usefulness on the farm declined. In spite of efforts by the Rare Breed Survival Trust and the Suffolk Horse Society, numbers remain low, with just 33 fillies (young females) being born between 2014 and 2016.

The breed are a characteristic chesnut colour, always spelled with just one ‘t’ when describing a Suffolk Punch, and sometimes have a white patch on their head that is called a star. They have short, strong legs which are ideal for pulling heavy loads. They have no feathers on their feet, which means they can work more easily in heavy clay soils than breeds which do have feathers such as Shire horses.

We have been keen to bring Suffolk Punch horses to the farm for a long time and are thrilled to announce that two will be arriving early in 2018. Seren and Brenin will be travelling from their current home near the Welsh border to join us here at Sacrewell, where initially our animal team will be doing some intensive training so that the horses can eventually be used for pulling and perhaps ploughing displays around the site.

Seren means ‘star’ in Welsh and is the name of our mare, whilst the name of our stallion, Brenin means ‘king’. We hope to breed from the pair and help to grow the numbers of this very rare breed.

Jess went to meet the horses and take them for a test drive, which you can see in this short video from our Facebook page.

References:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/06/26/britains-oldest-horse-breed-veering-towards-extinction-many/

https://www.rbst.org.uk/Rare-and-Native-Breeds/Equine/Suffolk-Horse

https://www.suffolkhorsesociety.org.uk/