Hundreds of pigs released in annual pannage to hoover up New Forest acorns

Hundreds of pigs will snack on acorns and beechmasts for the next two months as the New Forest’s annual pannage kicks off.

The autumn tradition, dating back centuries, improves the condition of the soil and reduces the risk to ponies and cattle, who can be poisoned if they eat too many nuts and acorns.

New Forest Pannage
Pigs are free to roam during pannage (Andrew Matthews/PA)

Up to 600 domestic pigs have been released for around 60 days by people who occupy surrounding land in Hampshire.

“They have a wonderful time while they’re out there,” Sue Westwood, clerk to the verderers of the New Forest, told the PA news agency.

New Forest Pannage
Experts say it is safe for pigs to ingest as many acorns as they like (Andrew Matthews/PA)

“They’ve got free range of the forest.

“We do always say to people not to get too close – they can be a bit spiteful.”

New Forest Pannage
Pannage is one of the old rights of the forest (Andrew Matthews/PA)

While Ms Westwood warned against approaching any of the pigs, she maintained the animals love pannage as it helps to fatten them up.

“Sometimes we extend the pannage season a bit if we still (have) a lot of acorns and we think that the pigs can still do some good,” she explained.

New Forest Pannage
Pannage dates back centuries (Andrew Matthews/PA)

“Pannage is one of the old rights of the forest so it goes back hundreds of years.”

New Forest Pannage
Andrew Matthews/PA

Pannage started on Monday September 19 and will run until Friday November 18.