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Thursday, 4 November 2021

Look out, there are pigs about !

If you are fortunate to visit the New Forest, in Southern England, UK during the Autumn months, it’s not an uncommon sight to see pigs roaming the forest floor. The reason for this is one of pannage!

Pannage is the practice of releasing domestic pigs into a forest (also known as ‘Common of mast’), and goes all the way back to the time of William the Conqueror, who founded The New Forest in 1079.

The pigs are released onto the forest to eat fallen acorns, beechmast, chestnuts and other nuts; green acorns in particular are poisonous to the New Forest ponies and cattle which roam the forest the majority of the year.


Up to 600 pigs and piglets will work their way through the forest eating the acorns and nuts from the forest floor. It is the only time of year that the pigs are allowed to ‘roam’ the open forest, the rest of the time they are kept in their smallholdings by the commoners. In the 19th century the number of pigs released for pannage was as high as 6,000.

Pannage is no longer carried out in many areas of the country but can still be observed every year in the New Forest National Park. Pannage lasts for a minimum of 60 days and is vital because acorns are poisonous in large quantities to cattle and ponies and can lead to cholic. Pigs however are believed to spit out the toxic skins and enjoy eating the acorns.

You can usually find the pigs roaming the forest floors from around the third week in September, or whenever the acorns begin to drop from the beautiful oak and beech trees. The exact Pannage dates are decided by the New Forest Verderers and the Forestry Commission based on seasonal variations. During times of exceptional acorn falls, the pannage season is usually extended by the Verderers.

In 2021, Pannage season in the New Forest will run from 13 September to 14 November.


New Forest pigs must also be fitted with a ring through their nose which still enables them to forage through leaf litter and surface vegetation but stops them from rooting into the ground with their snouts causing damage to the Forest. Some of the different breeds of pig that you can find out on the New Forest include: Tamworth, Gloucestershire Old Spot, the British Saddleback and the Wessex Saddleback. There isn’t a specific breed of New Forest pig.

During the pannage season also keep a look out for the local artisan bakeries, farm shops and shops that sell piggy-shaped biscuits to celebrate this most ancient of New Forest practices.

Occasionally, you may find pigs on the forest outside of pannage season. Special dispensation is given to breeding sows (female pigs) that they are allowed onto the forest so long as they aren’t causing a nuisance. However, they have to be returned to their holding overnight.

The New Forest National Park is a wonderful place to visit and you can help it stay that way by being a Forest friendly visitor. For their safety and your own please leave the animals alone - although owned and cared for by local people called commoners, they are unpredictable and best treated as wild. Please keep your distance, don’t feed or pet them; there is plenty of natural food and it’s best that they don’t come to rely on human attention. Animals here may look friendly but they can bite.
Above words taken from here

have you tried
Cream Roasted Swede (Rutabaga) Soup
so tasty after a walk, more details here

As regular readers know, this blog is presented in a magazine style - we hope something for everyone. You will find a variety of articles, studies, thoughts, photographs, music and recipes!

However, not all the recipes ideas featured in this blog may be suitable for you. If you may have any food allergies, or underlying health issues these must always be taken into account. If you are a diabetic and not sure how certain foods may affect your blood sugars, test is best, i.e. use your meter.

All the best Jan

36 comments:

Tom said...

...this is news to me.

J.P. Alexander said...

Uy no conocía la costumbre, que lindo cerditos. Me gustaría conocer ese parque. Te mando un beso

happyone said...

I didn't know that - how interesting!

William Kendall said...

New to me too.

peppylady (Dora) said...

Never heard of this before.
Coffee is on and stay safe

DMS said...

Amazing! Such an interesting tradition. I am glad the pigs like acorns and they aren't bad for them.

Also- the Cream Roasted Swede (Rutabaga) Soup sounds sooooo good!
~Jess

Linda said...

I had no idea that acorns could poison some animals. I know that Native Americans soaked them three times in order to make them edible. They ground them into a flour, I believe..

Conniecrafter said...

that is very interesting, I never heard about that while we lived in England, that is nice that they can clean up the place and get well fed at the same time!

Practical Parsimony said...

I spent another two hours reading about this and mast!

Karen @ Beatrice Euphemie said...

Oh, this is so interesting! A good solution for the acorn problem, the farmers and the pigs, too! Not sure I would want to encounter them on a walk, though. Good advice to keep a distance. x K

Margaret D said...

Now that is very interesting Jan. Never heard of it before.

Bleubeard and Elizabeth said...

I hope the pigs are treated well for all the work they are doing to keep that forest safe.

Jo said...

It's such a good idea, the pigs get a good feed and the things which are harmful to ponies and cattle gets removed. A win win situation.

eileeninmd said...

Hello,
Interesting, I have never seen pigs in our forest here, maybe a turkey and deer.
There are times our driveway is filled with acorns, we could use a pig here to clean it up.
Take care, enjoy your day!

Valerie-Jael said...

That soup looks wonderful, I love swedes. Great to see the happy pigs roaming, I have heard of pannage, but never seen it in action! Have a great day, Valerie

Jenn Jilks said...

This is really interesting! I've not heard of this at all!

pam nash said...

So, keeping in mind that I'm a city person and I'm pretty sure that practice is not done anywhere around this part of the universe, how do the owners get them back? "Here piggy, piggy, piggy"?

baili said...

very interesting post der Jan ,completely new thing to learn about :)

In Islamabad we encountered with pigs during our walk in Fatima Jinnah Park ,the bunch of pigs were running towards our side though passed quickly ,every time they appeared when it was getting dark .Islamabad is densely vegetated and wild life appears in public places sometimes

Caroline said...

The soup is looking delicious. From Sweden ?

CJ Kennedy said...

Love the history.

Rose said...

This is interesting...I wonder how hard the pigs are to round up when their time is up. And wonder do they belong to different owners and how hard is it to separate them.

My name is Erika. said...

What a fabulous tradition. I am glad they still do it and haven't stopped for people who might complain. It was great seeing these photos. Hope you're having a nice Thursday!

Jeanie said...

I never heard of pannage or the pigs and this is just fascinating. Wonderful photos, all and today I've learned something new! Thanks for this!

Bill said...

What a very interesting article. I never knew about it either, thanks for sharing, Jan.

Snowbird said...

I just love the New Forest and really enjoyed seeing all the pigs foraging freely. That soup looks delicious.

Mary Kirkland said...

Sounds like it's good for the pigs.

Sue said...

Wow what an interesting post, I definitely did NOT know that! I'm so glad that your recipe wasn't a pork one today though lol. Take care and have a great evening, Sue xx

bobbie said...

Here there be pigs!!!

Lowcarb team member said...

Many thanks to everyone for your comments so far about this post.

A little more information regarding the 'pannage pigs'
They are not wild - they belong to commoners to whom they return each night, before being released the next day. They are most likely found in the forest’s ancient oak forests - around Bolderwood, on the Knightwood Oak Trail, or can be spotted often around Bramshaw village.

https://www.hampshirelive.news/news/hampshire-news/how-you-can-spot-unique-5936984

All the best Jan

DVArtist said...

This is a very interesting post. I enjoyed it very much.

Breathtaking said...

Hello Jan, :=) What an interesting post. I have never heard of pannage before. I also learnt so much about acorns and how they are poisonous to ponies and cattle. I don't think it is a Portuguese practice or I'm sure I would have heard of it, but I will look it up.

sandy said...

wow,the things i don't know could fill a ...something really big...lol. So interesting to read this. I have never heard of it.

Kay said...

This is so very interesting. However, I wondered how the pigs were rounded up later too. Or are they just allowed to roam free?

Lowcarb team member said...

Many thanks to everyone for your comments about this post.

Many asked about the pigs being rounded up, so a little more information regarding the 'pannage pigs'. They are not allowed to roam free. The pigs are not wild - they belong to commoners to whom they return each night, before being released the next day. They are most likely found in the forest’s ancient oak forests - around Bolderwood, on the Knightwood Oak Trail, or can be spotted often around Bramshaw village.

https://www.hampshirelive.news/news/hampshire-news/how-you-can-spot-unique-5936984

All the best Jan

Hilly Nicolay said...

The pigs find tasty snacks there.

I do like kohlrabi.

Nice day.

Teresa said...

Por aquí también se dejaban a los cerdos, libres por la dehesa. Besos.