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a174 “They are brilliant ground clearers, but they also play a really
important role in mature woodland,” she continues. “For example,
in the past large areas of the hill were reseeded with
fast-growing rye grass which outgrows and swamps the native
plants.” Putting pigs on the land is the perfect way to reverse
this. “They are good at cutting this up to create a fertile seed
bed which allows natural regeneration,” says Sanna. This seems
to be working, with holly already beginning to come up followed
by some oak.
“I also expect to get birch and ash soon thanks to the wind
blowing in seed from a patch of neighbouring scrub.”
Sanna admits, however, that pigs are not a total panacea. “You
can’t put them in with really young saplings because although they
won’t bark them like sheep, they do have a habit of up-ending Pigs at home…
them,” she says. “You can put rings in their noses to discourage too
much digging, but I prefer to Keepingpigscanbeincrediblyrewarding:asidefromthepleasureof
put them in selectively, watchingthemlivingnaturallythere’stheaddedbonusofdelicious
managing where and how free-rangepork.Here’stheCountry & Border Lifeguidetohappyhogs…
much they dig with portable
electric fences.” FIRSTTHINGSFIRST…
When properly controlled, Whetheryou’veonepetpigorawholeherd,youmustregisteryour
their snouts and trotters create ownershipwithDefra.You’llthenneedaCPH(CountyParishHolding)
a rough seedbed, and of course numberforthelandwherethey’llbekept.
they fertilise it as they go – in
exactly the same way that wild WANDERINGFREE…
boar would have fitted into the Therecommendedratioforyourpotteringporkersisfivetosixpigsper
natural ecosystem of Wales’s acre.Ideallythelandshouldbegrassy,onsandysoilandsloping.
primeval woodland. Pigsliketoroamsoenclosuresneedtobeverysturdy.Themost
“Provided you keep an eye effectivearesolidwalls,fencesattachedtorobustposts,postandrail
on them, they are a really fencingorpigwirestretchedtightlybetweenposts.
useful management tool,” Bothadultsandpigletswilltryanddigunderfencing,butbarbedwire
says Sanna. “In fact I’m thinking of going into ‘rent a pig’ alongthebottomwillmakethemthinktwiceafterafewscratches.
– lending them to farmers with oak woods.”
This idea is much more serious than it might at first appear. HOMESWEETHOME…
Although horses and sheep will readily eat acorns, this leads to Yourpigsmusthaveshelterfromthehotsun:theycangetsunburnand
bloat which is at best expensive and at worst fatal. Pigs on the sufferfromheatstress.Thebesttypeofhousingispurpose-builtwooden
other hand love them, and thrive on their protein-rich calories. pigarksthatyoucaneitherbuyreadymadeorbuildyourown.
“I’m toying with the idea of lending my pigs to neighbours as
mobile hoovers,” laughs Sanna. “They would go into a wood in GLORIOUSFOOD…
October and clear it of acorns so that sheep could come in Likeanyanimal,pigsneedawell-balanceddiet,butthelevelofprotein
after them – and I’d be left with top-quality, naturally-reared, theyrequirevariesaccordingtotheirageandbreed.Organicpelletfeed
outdoor porkers.” containsallthenecessarynutrientsbutcheckithassufficientlevelsof
proteinforyourpigpluslysine,avitalaminoacid.
Pig in a poke Supplementwithgrass,fruit,vegetables,grainsandfodderbeet,but
Here she is tapping into one of Britain’s most ancient forms of limitthebeetleavesasitcanleadtogastricupsets;avoidgreenpotatoes,
farming. For centuries our peasant ancestors relied on ‘pannage’ a174 parsnips,cowparsleyandover-ripefruit;andsteerclearofsugar-rich
foods.Givethemplentyofcleanwater.(continuedoverleaf)
The Tamworth
TamworthsareBritain’soldestbreedofpig.Althoughnamedafterthe
Staffordshiretown,theRomansoriginallyimportedtheirforebearsand
thebreedformedthebackboneofmedievalporcinehusbandry.
WhilemostdomesticpigsoweatleastsomeoftheirgenestoFar
Easternswine,Tamworthsclaimdescentfromwildboar.Althoughvery
hardy,theirlittersofsevenoreightarecomparativelysmall(modern
commercialbreedsgenerallyproduceadozenyoung).Asaresultthey
felloutoffavourwithmodernfarmersandby1975wereonthebrinkof
extinction.FortunatelythebreedhadbeentakentoAustraliaandwas
stillgoingstrongthere.Stockwasre-importedtorescuethebreed,
althoughtheyremainrare.
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