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Rare Suffolk Punch filly foal is born at Nottingham Trent University's Brackenhurst Campus, Southwell, after gender was determined by scientists




A rare breed horse has given birth to a female foal whose gender was determined by scientists in a bid to help protect the breed.

The Suffolk Punch filly was born earlier this month to a mare called Ruby. Both are owned by Nottingham Trent University at its Brackenhurst Campus, Southwell.

Tullis Matson (left), owner and managing director of Stallion AI Services, and Dr Gareth Starbuck, Head of Animal and Equine Sciences at Nottingham Trent University.
Tullis Matson (left), owner and managing director of Stallion AI Services, and Dr Gareth Starbuck, Head of Animal and Equine Sciences at Nottingham Trent University.

It is believed to be the first time in the world that the sex sorting technique has been used to support the survival of rare breeds.

With just over 70 female Suffolk Punches remaining in the UK and fewer than 300 in the world, every female born is vital to the survival of the breed, which was once the backbone of British farming.

The project came about after Mr Tullis Matson, owner of Stallion AI Services, and a supporter of the Rare Breeds Survival Trust, saw a chance to use a technological advancement to provide a lifeline to Britain’s endangered rare and native horses.

Ruby the Suffolk Punch and her foal.
Ruby the Suffolk Punch and her foal.

“The challenges have been great and many but watching the birth of this beautiful, healthy filly foal was a truly magical experience,” he said.

Ruby was matched with Suffolk stallion Holbeach Iggy in a project between Rare Breeds Survival Trust and the university, which uses pedigree information to minimise inbreeding and genetic decline.

Specialist equipment was used to sex sort the semen before insemination.

The foal was born at Twemlows Stud Farm in Shropshire, and will be moving to Brackenhurst with its mother soon.

Dr Gareth Starbuck, head of animal and equine sciences at the university, said: “The birth of this foal marks a major step towards securing the future of the Suffolk horse and all other rare breeds. We are overjoyed the 11-month wait has resulted in success.”


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