I have finally got round to writing a piece of Suffolk Native Breeds. I have only chosen a few breeds to briefly discuss in this article but have included website links to relevant pages for you to explore further. There are many Native British breeds of livestock which we often overlook for more commercial breeds. However, as a smallholder and Suffolk gal I have highlighted here some Suffolk, good quality breeds which could make a good addition to your smallholding or farm.
(Photo from http://everything-poultry.com)
The Ixworth chicken breed was developed in 1932. It is a white feathered chicken which is good for both meat and is a prolific egg layer. Unfortunately it fell out of the public eye but is back in vogue at the moment for rare breed smallholders as it is a good quality bird which is good for free ranging and has a similar look to the ever popular Sussex breed. I like this chicken breed not only because it is a Suffolk Breed but also because it is a reliable egg layer.
Suffolk Origin: In the Village of Ixworth, near Bury St Edmunds in Suffolk.
Suffolk Punch Horse:
(Photo from http://www.yourhorse.co.uk)
The Suffolk Punch is now the UK’s rarest Heavy Horse breed. Suffolk Punches have been found recorded right back to the middle ages, but a clear trace has been It once was a prolific breed due to its usefulness in the agricultural world of Suffolk as a heavy horse used for pulling and operating heavy farming machinery.The Suffolk Punch was useful in farming not only because of its strength, but also as it was the only heavy horse that had clean not feathered legs. This meant it did not get as mucky when working the muddy arable fields,, thus easier to clean at end of day and to work. The Suffolk Punch is known to be a gentle giant with a docile nature, good for a working horse. This is a heavy horse breed which is very muscular and robust with a Chestnut Colouring to it. I love the Suffolk Punch as it is a very strong horse which not only looks stunning but is also very useful. In the past it has not only been used for agricultural work but also in the military – In World War 1 the Suffolk Punch was used to pull artillery. However, Britain’s industrialisation and introduction of machinery meant a decline in Suffolk Punch Horses in work. It would be a great shame if a horse with so much beauty and usefulness became extinct, which it may do due to its status as a Rare Breed.
Origin: East Anglia (including Suffolk)
Red Poll Cattle:
(Photo from http://www.redpollcattle.co.nz/)
The Red Poll is not specifically of Suffolk origin, in fact it is an East Anglian breed combining both the Suffolk Dun Dairy Cow and the Norfolk Red Beef Cow to produce a hybrid. It was breed and developed in the 1870s. I like this breed as although mainly for beef purposes you can get multi purpose ones and they have a beautiful colouring of deep ruby red. They are a sturdy, robust breed.
Origin: East Anglia (Suffolk and Norfolk breeds combined)
(Photo from http://www.farminguk.com)
The Suffolk sheep was. The Suffolk Sheep is one of my favourite Suffolk Breeds and one of my top sheep breeds. I love this Down breed as it always look robust and sturdy. The Suffolk Sheep can be used for both meat and wool as it produces good quality meat and a white soft wool for use in knitting. The Suffolk sheep is defined by its thick creamy white fleece and black legs and face. The Suffolk sheep is not really suitable for upland farming as it is used to more gentle conditions and is a down sheep, used to the conditions in the flatlands of Suffolk. Additionally, Suffolk Rams are often used with other sheep breed to sire them – to cross breed to produce a stronger, good quality offspring. My Dad used to keep sheep on his family’s smallholding in Little Blakenham and they had a Suffolk Ram called Samson who was very charismatic!
Origin: Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk.
Suffolk Chequer True Bantam:
(Photo from http://www.britannicrarebreeds.co.uk)
This is a Suffolk Breed that has very recently been approved by the Poultry Club of Great Britain as a True Bantam and Native Breed only in May 2013 this year! it was first developed in 1995 and has been improved and secured as a True Bantam since then. These Bantams do lay some eggs but this muscular bird is mainly used as a table meat bird. It is Barred in colouring and is said to be ideal for the smallholder with not much space as they can thrive well in smaller or enclosed gardens.
If you take a shine to any of these Suffolk Native Breeds and help to keep or breed them that would be fantastic! All these breeds are great for certain aspects of smallholding ie meat production, egg laying or strength for farm work. However, I am slightly biased in my favourites – The Ixworth chicken is a firm favourite for its dual purpose and also the Suffolk Punch Horse will always be special due to its robust statue and its amazing history set in the agricultural roots of the Suffolk Landscape. As a Suffolk Gal I would love to see all these Native Breeds come back into the limelight.
Useful Websites to take a gander at:
http://www.redpoll.org/ Red Poll Cattle
http://suffolkchequers.webs.com/ Suffolk Chequers Bantam
http://www.suffolksheep.org/ Suffolk Sheep
http://suffolkpunchtrust.org/ Suffolk Punch Horse
http://suffolkhorsesociety.org.uk/ Suffolk Punch Horse
http://www.poultryclub.org/breed-gallery/chickens/rare-soft-feather-heavy/ Poultry Club of Great Britain – good information of Ixworth Chicken
Let me know what you think of this piece, and if it was useful, enjoyable to read, Thankyou, Katy, The Good Life In Practice x