The New Forest has a unique tradition in terms of scale, not seen anywhere else in the UK called ‘Pannage’. Pannage season sees hundreds of domestic pigs set free in to the forest to eat acorns, which are poisonous to the free roaming New Forest ponies and cattle.
The season starts when the first acorns begin to fall – which is usually mid-late September and lasts through November or later, if there is a large harvest of acorns. You’ll see Pannage Pigs out in the forest and along paths and sometimes roads (remember the 40 miles speed limit). The pigs often have one or more rings through their noses. This is to stop them foraging too deep in to the ground which can damage vegetation.
The Pannage Pigs are owned by ‘commoners’ who are locals with property adjoining the forest with ancient rights to let their pigs forage during designated times of the year, or by special license. The pigs adore scrumptious acorn nibbles and soon fatten up to provide a unique sweet, nutty tasting, tender pork.
Check out the farm shops and independent butchers when you’re here and cook a meal back at your cottage.
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