You batter believe it - 16 pups for Kelly

Eating for two is bad enough. But when you re eating for 16, there s only one thing for it - the good old chippy.Irish setter Kelly s bumper litter of puppies is proof that fish is just the job for a dog s dinner.Her owner, Dee Farndell, last night reve

Eating for two is bad enough. But when you're eating for 16, there's only one thing for it - the good old chippy.

Irish setter Kelly's bumper litter of puppies is proof that fish is just the job for a dog's dinner.

Her owner, Dee Farndell, last night revealed that battered cod was one of the dietary secrets behind the record-breaking baby boom - the biggest in her 35 years of breeding.

Two-year-old bitch Kelly endured a 10-hour labour to bring the unusually large brood into the world on January 15.

During the last couple of days the new arrivals have opened their eyes and started to explore their new surroundings at Zilveren Kennels, Terrington St Clement.

Mrs Farndell, 56, said: "I always say when the dogs are pregnant that what you put into the mother is what you get out in terms of quality.

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"At three weeks we feed them fresh chicken with complete food, gravy and vegetables.

"At six weeks we give them battered fish for the omega three oils. We just give them the really good quality stuff which is high in protein.

"All dogs love fish. We have 14 adult Irish setters here and I've got tins of tuna and pilchards which they get two or three times a week. It keeps their coats nice and shiny and oils their joints."

Dave Audley, who runs the Three Cottages Fish and Chip Restaurant in North Walsham, is president of the Fish Fryers Association.

He said: "Everybody thinks fried food is bad for you but fish cooked in batter is very healthy because the batter prevents the fat getting into the fish - it is actually steamed.

"I didn't know it had this effect on dogs, but it obviously proves the health benefits."

After the birth, Mrs Farndell and her husband, Malcolm, 58, put their puppy love to the test with a 24-hour bedside vigil to ensure the family survived its first few days.

"It was Kelly's first litter and will probably be her last - it was terrifically hard work," she said. "The mother and puppies are all fine - I think it is me that is beginning to struggle.

"I was fine up until number 13 but then we felt her tummy and could feel other puppies moving about. We didn't panic but when we got to 15 I said: 'Please, Kelly, no more'. There was one more and that was it.

"They have an acre field and they get at least an hour a day of solid running. They are extremely fit and this is why Kelly was able to have this many puppies without a caesarean."

Mrs Farndell said Irish setters usually deliver a litter of between nine and 11 puppies after a pregnancy term of nine weeks.

Four of the dogs will be kept back to follow in their grandfather's paw-steps as show animals, while the others will be sold off as pedigree pets at a price of £700 each.

The puppies have a daunting family reputation to follow as their grandfather, Thendara Don Corleone, was a double champion at Crufts, winning best of breed in 2006 and 2007.

He was named after the mafia boss from the Godfather movies who chillingly asked whether his rivals wanted to "sleep with the fishes".

Now his canine descendants have decided to eat with the fishes instead...