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

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

The centuries-old autumn tradition improves soil conditions and reduces the risk to ponies and cattle, which can be poisoned if they eat too many nuts and acorns.

Pigs are free to roam during panage (Andrew Matthews / PA)

In Hampshire, 600 domestic pigs have been released for about 60 days by people occupying the surrounding land.

“They’re having an amazing time while they’re out there,” Sue Westwood, clerk for the Werders of the New Forest, told the PA news agency.

Experts say it is safe for pigs to eat as many acorns as they want (Andrew Matthews/PA)

“They have got free range of the forest.

“We always tell people not to get too close – they can be a little spiteful.”

Panage is one of the older rights to the forest (Andrew Matthews/PA)

While Ms Westwood cautioned against approaching any boars, she maintained her love of the animals as it helps them fatten up.

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

Panage dates back centuries (Andrew Matthews / PA)

“Panage is one of the oldest rights of the forest so it goes back hundreds of years.”

Andrew Matthews / PA

Panage started on Monday 19th September and will run till Friday 18th November.

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