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New Forest Pannage

Pannage season is upon us and if you’re been adventuring the New Forest in coming weeks, you’ll be sure to spot our snouty friends rooting around the forest.

For those who are unaware, Pannage season occurs every September to December and is the annual release of up to 600 pigs onto the New Forest heathland. The rights to pannage, known as the common of mast, are held by over 700 New Forest Commoner. These sit alongside their rights to Pasture, the turning out live stock, and Estovers which is the free supply of wood for fuel. New Forest Commoner’s rights have been installed across the New Forest since the Charter of the Forest, 1217.

During Pannage season the free-roaming pigs are let loose into the New Forest, where it is their job to eat the fallen acorns, beech mast and chestnuts to protect our New Forest Ponies. As such nuts can be poisonous to our forest fauna. Whereby, to pigs, they are like sweets. Throughout this time, pigs can run on average 7 ½ miles per day and they have an incredibly good sense of direction. But be sure to keep an eye out on roadsides, as they aren’t the most street wise of animals and can command a lot of traffic.

Due to their long-distance travels, following the season, the pigs return far leaner. Creating a highly distinguishable pork, which is enjoyed throughout the New Forest. Their highly seasonal diet creates a far nuttier, darker and leaner tasting pork than that bought in national supermarkets.

For more detail on Pannage Season and Pannage Pork take a look below at our Forest to Fork Series featuring the Commoner’s Larder.

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