The Pannage Season

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.

It’s the time of year when over 600 pigs are released onto the forest to eat the fallen acorns, beech mast, chestnuts and other fallen nuts on the forest floor which are all poisonous to the forest ponies and cattle.  The pigs are released in September for a minimum of 2 months, some years they stay out for longer depending on the harvest of acorns that year.

There is a wide selection of breeds to seen, anything from Gloucestershire Old Spot to the British Saddleback, many with a trail of piglets snuffling behind them!  All the pigs have rings fitted to their noses to help them forage through the leaves to find their treasure without damaging the ground and the roots of the trees.

There are a couple of large pigs that have been spotted recently on the road to Bucklers Hard, but if you keep your eyes open in wooded areas, they can be seen in most places at the moment.

The sight of the pigs on the forest is really great to see, unless you’re on horseback, then it’s terrifying for the horse, and therefore terrifying for the rider too!