After waiting eagerly for eleven months, eight-hundred online viewers watched Queenie, a ten-year-old, dark bay, shire horse from Wimpole Farm, Cambridgeshire, go into a much anticipated labour, and at 11.45pm on twelfth of July she gave birth to a beautiful filly foal, however viewers helplessly watched the foal pass away just minutes after birth due to a health complication.
Although the foal had a perceptible heartbeat when she was born, she was not breathing and despite the best efforts from Richard Morris, the farm manager, and Emma, the heavy horse manager, they could not get the foal to breathe.
A statement said: “A vet was on the phone throughout, talking the team through the procedures. None of our efforts could save her and she peacefully slipped away a few minutes after her birth.”
MyFarm is a unique initiative which allows a virtual management team of ten thousand people and groups to oversee the day-to-day running of Wimpole Hall Farm. In May, as part of the National Trust’s experiment to reconnect the public with the realities of life on a working, commercial farm, a webcam was set up, broadcasting live footage of Queenie during her pregnancy and the devastating birth of the foal.
Mr Morris said: “It was a huge decision for us to do a live broadcast of the birth. There was never a guarantee that the foaling would be straight forward and unfortunately, this proved to be the case. But we didn’t want to hide people from the risks involved – it’s fundamental to the purpose of this project – to reconnect people with the realities of farming to allow the possibility of lows as well as highs.”
Employees of Wimpole Farm especially were excited when they first heard about Queenie’s pregnancy, as it was to be the eighteenth century farm’s first heavy-breed foal in fifteen years.
Mr Morris also said: “As you can imagine, we are all devastated by this awful and unexpected outcome. Although watchers of the foaling on the webcam saw the true, grim realities of animal husbandry this in no way belittles the personal sense of tragedy and loss we are all feeling. This bitter disappointment is tempered only with the fact that the filly foal did not suffer at all.”
One of the MyFarm farmers commented on the website, just after the birth, saying:
“I’m so sorry everyone. That was awful to watch, but I guess this is the reality of farm life sometimes. I felt so helpless watching the efforts to save her.”
Queenie was turned out the following morning for some fresh air, after being left with her foal overnight to accept what had happened, and it has been said that she is doing well.
Due to it being prime horse breeding season, and as Queenie is a fit and healthy mare, the team is keen to try and put her in foal again and they plan to get her back to the stallion again in approximately three weeks. Although she has sadly lost her last three foals, there is no reason to believe that Queenie won’t foal successfully in the future.