Baylham shows off new arrivals

A RARE breeds farm which suffered Britain's first bluetongue outbreak opened for the season today with the first lambs born since the September outbreak on show.

A RARE breeds farm which suffered Britain's first bluetongue outbreak opened for the season today with the first lambs born since the September outbreak on show.

The lambs arrived four days early, despite their mothers having to be moved around repeatedly during the bluetongue crisis while pregnant, and now the public will be able to catch their first glimpse of them.

Richard Storer, a partner at the family-run Baylham House Rare Breeds Farm, said the first new family - a mother and her twins - were doing well. More lambs have followed.

“We were worried that moving the animals and testing their blood would have an adverse effect.


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“But it now appears that the possibility of the bluetongue crisis having damaged some of the pregnancies among the rare breed sheep was not as significant as was first thought.

“The crisis is well behind us and we'll have to see how the government responds if it returns.”

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Staff at the farm had been worried about spring lambing after the crisis.

After the ewes from its six rare breed flocks have been with the rams, in the autumn, they are normally left undisturbed and stress-free for at least four weeks to give the ewes the best possible chance of a successful pregnancy.

But after bluetongue was discovered at the end of September Defra (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) animal health teams arrived to take blood samples from all the animals.

At the most critical phase in the pregnancy cycle the ewes had to be moved from their paddock to a sheep shed and then back again. Then the stressful exercise was repeated to take more blood samples.

Mr Storer's son Neil said: “This repeated moving and handling was something we would have preferred to have avoided but getting on top of the bluetongue problem was much more important.”

Baylham House is open from 11 am every day and visitors will be able to wander through the lambing shed and see what is going on.

Expectant mothers will not be able to go into the shed but they can stand outside and walk round the rest of the farm in safety.

A second batch of lambs is expected at the farm at Easter.

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