New calf at rare breeds farm

OWNERS of the Suffolk rare breeds farm at the centre of last year's bluetongue outbreak were today celebrating after the birth of a rare white park calf - just days after they feared his mum was about to abort.

OWNERS of the Suffolk rare breeds farm at the centre of last year's bluetongue outbreak were today celebrating after the birth of a rare white park calf - just days after they feared his mum was about to abort.

Baylham House Farm was one of the first places in the country to vaccinate its stock against bluetongue after a treatment became available in the spring.

But there have been reports that some animals have aborted after being given the vaccination.

One of the farm's white park heifers was pregnant when she was innoculated - and there were fears for her unborn calf.


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Richard Storer, who runs the farm with his son Neil, said: "What concerned us is that there have been several reports of cattle aborting calves following positive tests for having had bluetongue or else following a bluetongue vaccination.

“We had two goats who each delivered dead twins after having had the vaccination booster and the post mortem showed that there were no health problems present which would have caused the kids to die.

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“However, it must be said that there is also no evidence to indicate that the bluetongue vaccination was in any way responsible for these or any of the other reported livestock deaths.”

But the plight of Imogen, a White Park heifer and one of the rarest breeds in the country, was particularly worrying for Mr Storer.

“She was expecting a calf on July 1st and, as she didn't seem to be particularly well and was certainly not as large as we would have expected if she had been carrying a healthy full-sized calf, we feared the worst."

Then, late on Tuesday afternoon, Neil found that Imogen had produced a small bull calf which had arrived unaided and lay shivering on the straw.

Later that evening Imogen appeared to be quite aggressive towards her calf, even tossing him into the air with her horns on a couple of occasions.

Mother and son were therefore separated and he was put in a small pen beside his mother with a heat lamp to keep him warm overnight. In the morning they were re-united and he is now taking milk from mum and appears to be thriving - and is likely to be a popular addition to the farm and its visitors over the next few weeks.

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