September has arrived and autumn is settling in; the leaves are starting to fall and change to shades of gold. One of the first signs of autumn here in the New Forest is pannage season.
Pannage is the practice of releasing domestic pigs into the forest, and goes all the way back to the time of William the conqueror, who founded the New Forest. Pannage is no longer carried out in many areas but can still be observed every year here.
The piggy’s snuffle up all the acorns which have fallen from the trees as they are poisonous to both ponies and cattle. Along with acorns they hoover up beech mast, crab apples, chestnuts and anything they find when rummaging through the forest floor.
This year the pigs were let out by the commoners on September 11th and are expected to be back in their homes by 13th November. Across the whole of the forest it is expected up to 600 pigs will be digging their way through!
Unlike the New Forest pony there isn’t a New Forest pig, so if you go out in search of them you’ll come across several breeds including: The Tamworth pig which blends in with its autumnal surroundings due to having an orange or rusty red coat. The Gloucestershire Old Spots pig is one of the easiest to spot. It is also known as the cottager’s pig as it is widely used in small scale farming and is popular in the New Forest. The British Saddleback pig is another easy one to spot across our local forests due to its distinctive colouring. This breed is almost entirely black apart from a band or sheet of white covering its shoulders.
You’ll often see the pigs travelling in families and yes, there will be little baby piglets running around too! Pannage in the New Forest is a beautiful and rather mesmerising sight; why not take your camera and enjoy one of the fantastic walking routes in the forest.
If you’re staying with us or just visiting the New Forest and wish to see these adorable creatures then here’s where we often get to see them: throughout Burley (often spotted down Moorhill House Hotel’s driveway), Beaulieu heathlands, Brockenhurst and Wilverley.
If you find them remember to be quiet and gentle. If you manage to get any pictures then please share them with us – We’d love to see them!