Pigs for Conservation
Written by: Hamish
Published: 14th April 2016
Earlier this month we welcomed two new six week old saddleback piglets to the reserve, and through a competition on our Facebook page these were named Barker and Corbett. This follows the huge success of our two Tamworth pigs which we borrowed from a local farmer last year.
Woodland is the natural habitat for wild pigs, and it can be incredibly beneficial for domestic pigs to enjoy this amount of freedom and exploration within their natural environment.
The use of pigs in conservation, especially woodland is becoming increasingly popular, as their foraging, digging and disturbing the ground with their noses reduces the undergrowth, improves the soil and increases the likelihood that tree seeds germinate.
We have a lot of poisonous bracken and undergrowth on the reserve which includes weeds, nettles and brambles. These are rapidly growing, invasive species which thrive at the expense of the native plants which are more beneficial to the wildlife on the reserve. The undergrowth quickly dominates the land, and a lot of manpower is required to remove and stay on top of it, which is where the pigs come in.
Bracken contains carcinogens and the fronds contain a number of toxins which are poisonous to animals such as cattle, sheep and pigs when ingested. Whilst roaming across the reserve our pigs will be trampling on the bracken, breaking it up and digging up the roots. During periods of frost these roots would be killed, preventing any further growth.
Although the use of pigs is more time consuming than using chemical weed killers we prefer this 100% eco-friendly approach. It comes without any harm to our plants and wildlife, especially the bees which are under threat in-part due to the ever-increasing use of chemical herbicides and pesticides.
Last year our pigs went over one area of the land, killing much of the undergrowth. Currently Barker and Corbett are going over this area again, turning over the soil and fertilising it with their manure in preparation for our upcoming wildflower planting with the local school.
If you want to stay updated with Barker and Corbett head over to our Facebook page where we will be posting lots of photos and the latest news.