letting Pigs out onto the Forest in Autumn is a tradition that dates back to the times of William the Conqueror who founded the New Forest.
Breeds such as Tamworth, Gloucestershire Old Spot and the Wessex saddleback are common on the forest, there isn’t an official New Forest breed.
During Autumn acorns fall from the trees and litter the forest floor, pigs are big fans of acorns, which is convenient, as acorns, when eaten in large quantities are poisonous to ponies and cattle who also roam the forest.
Up to 600 Pigs and Piglets can roam the forest during Autumn, the rest of the year they are kept by the commoners on farmland.
At the peak of the pannage tradition 6000 pigs would be let out!
Interestingly the pigs let out on the forest all have to be fitted with nose rings, the rings prevent the pigs from causing excess damage to the ground and uprooting plants.
One of the best spots to see the pigs is on our ‘Woodland trail’ New forest cycle route, they often congregate around the end of the first section of trail at post number 132.
If you decide to go on a Pig spotting bike ride, remember to keep your distance and do not offer the pigs any food, this will only encourage them to hang out near roads and busy spots where there are more humans.