Rare breeds farm hopes to reopen

VIDEO AFTER the most traumatic week, the Storer family at Baylham House rare breeds farm are now hoping to welcome visitors again within a few days.And there will be two new animals to see - replacing Debbie the highland cow which had to be put down at the start of the bluetongue crisis.

AFTER the most traumatic week, the Storer family at Baylham House rare breeds farm are now hoping to welcome visitors again within a few days.

And there will be two new animals to see - replacing Debbie the highland cow which had to be put down at the start of the bluetongue crisis.

Debbie's daughter Fiona, who was born on the farm, will be returning to replace her mother as soon as possible.

And she will bring her own calf with her - another female who is Debbie's granddaughter.

The Storers have been overwhelmed by the level of support they have received from across the country - and throughout the world - and were delighted to thank Star readers for all their kind messages.

Richard Storer said: “There have been so many kind messages we have not been able to respond personally at this stage, but I am delighted to have the chance to say thank you through the Star.

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“We've had some special messages. I had one handwritten letter from a six-year-old today (who said she was almost seven) with a lovely drawing of Debbie on it.

“Things like that have meant a great deal.”

He admitted that had his first fears last week been realised it would probably have been the end for the farm.

Mr Storer said: “At the start of last week it looked as if Debbie was showing symptoms of foot and mouth disease. We called in our vet and he said that was not the case and we gave a huge sigh of relief.

“But Debbie didn't get any better and we called him back later in the week and at that stage he was not so sure and called in DEFRA (Department of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs).

“They said it was not foot and mouth, but the next day they called back and said they had to test for bluetongue - and everything started here.

“In a sense we are lucky it was not foot and mouth. That would have forced them to cull all the livestock here, and I think that would have been that. I don't think we could have started it all up again.”

The problems they had faced with bluetongue indicated to Mr Storer how devastating foot and mouth could be.

“We are emotionally attached to all our animals, but we haven't bred them as a family over generations. When you see what is happening to some farms with entire pedigree herds being culled you can't imagine what the emotions must be like,” he said.

RICHARD Storer hopes Baylham rare breeds farm will reopen to the public as soon as all the animals have been given the all clear following tests.

“Once they have been cleared we should be able to open a day or two later - and we are very keen to get going again,” he said.

All the animals have been tested and so far there have been just the two positives - Debbie and Lorraine who was an Old Gloucester cow.

“The positive tests come back very quickly, but it takes much longer to get a negative. In this case it really is no news is good news.”

You can back Baylham by visiting the farm when it reopens, or by sending messages of support to the Star marked “We're Backing Baylham.” Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

BAYLHAM's animals are rare breeds which were once common - and help to preserve a gene pool to ensure modern breeds can continue to thrive.

Neil Storer said: “Many of the rare breeds are much hardier and need less attention than modern commercial animals.

“Our first priority is to preserve these breeds and it would have been a total disaster if we did get foot and mouth and the whole stock had to be culled.”

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