Pannage in the New Forest
Watch out for piggies on the road this autumn!
The pigs of the New Forest play a vital part in the eco-system. Every autumn, when the acorns, chestnuts and various other nuts have fallen from their trees, up to 600 domestic pigs (usually owned by commoners) are let out onto the New Forest National Park for up to 60 days, to clear away and eat the nuts. This is called ‘pannage' or ‘common of mast’, and it is important because many of the nuts are poisonous to other animals in the New Forest, such as cattle and ponies.
The New Forest National Park is one of the few places that still carries out the tradition, which dates back to the time of William the Conqueror, when they would use up to 6,000 pigs! Nowadays between 200 and 600 pigs are turned out as the number owned by commoners has fallen. The event is a great sight and makes for excellent photos - a walk in the forest to remember.
Commoners pay a token fee for each pig they turn out. Each pig is marked with an identity tag in its ear and has a ring put through its nose to reduce the damage to the Forest caused by rooting.
The 2018 Pannage season starts on 10th September and ends on 11th November.
The pannage season in the New Forest is usually 60 days and the start of the season varies according to the weather and when the acorns fall. The Court of Verderers decides when pannage will start each year.
Find out more about Pannage: https://youtu.be/Cn8ri56LFro or click on the image below which will take you to this short film by the New Forest National Park Authority.