New Forest pigs, ponies and acorns - why are Pannage pigs vital?
Welcome to my New Forest Life Tales Issue #October 2022.
It's been ages since I last published one of my New Forest Tales but here's my latest one for Autumn 2022
Life has been chaotic, as it has been for all of us, so it's nice to get into updating you at last!
We've had times of joy as new foals, (both pony and donkey) new calves and piglets have arrived through the years and ofcourse because this is a living, working forest there have been losses and tragedies too.
Now the forest is in its full glory. Fungi is plentiful and splendid to see and the Autumn colours are and will soon be even more stunning.
We're in the middle of Pannage season. Usually, it's a 60 day timescale unless there are reasons, like there may be this year, to extend it.
I thought you might enjoy a repeat history lesson on the pigs?...........;-)
Pannage is an ancient right in the New Forest which is also called Right of Mast. it's a very practical way of safeguarding the New Forest ponies and also fattening
up the locals pigs ready for Christmas.
Commoners put their pigs and piglets out onto the open forest during Pannage to roam freely. They love green acorns and unlike the ponies are able to eat and successfully digest huge amounts of green acorns. The New Forest ponies aren't able to eat and digest them and sadly if they eat too many they will suffer colic and often die a painful death.
In the past I've had to help rescue a foal which had eaten too many acorns. Luckily enough it chose my cottage to stand outside as it stamped and swayed from side to side as it's stomach got more and more severe cramps. By spotting it early the owner and myself were able to box mother and foal up and take them off so that a large dose of castor oil could be pushed down into the foals gut. Luckily enough the oil was enough to pass the mass of acorns through so the toxins weren't able to take effect.
Tragically, a few years later another lovely little foal owned by
the same Commoner, despite being taken off the forest and hopefully away from dangerous levels of green acorns, managed to eat enough acorns and dying despite being in a relatively safe field.
So the pigs are vital to the New Forest and each time you see them scrambling around getting up to mischief think of the great service they're doing to the lives of the New Forest ponies.
A word of warning they are totally oblivious to road danger! As the traffic on the forest seems to be constantly speeding up (despite valiant efforts of our wonderful NewForest Cops whose patrols catch many thoughtless drivers) the pigs and all our other animals are still in constant danger.
Please drive carefully as we're about to come into the most dangerous part of the year on the forest roads, as the clock change happens. Earlier, darker nights mean it's less easy to see the animals on or crossing the roads - pigs included!
That's all for now - enjoy the Autumn
colours and snuggle up warm (more jumpers and hot water bottles perhaps this winter?)
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