Pannaging pigs chase New Forest policeman plus dog

Matthew Chatfield
Latest posts by Matthew Chatfield (see all)

The Ranger has long enjoyed visiting the New Forest. As animals are not enclosed in the Forest, visitors get a chance – rare in today’s world – to get right up close to grazing stock. Apart from the famous ponies, one of the most entertaining aspects of visiting the Forest is the autumnal encounters with pigs in the more wooded areas. It’s been the custom for centuries to put pigs out to eat acorns in the autumn – this practice is called pannage. As well as making good fat pigs, this has another benefit as the pigs clear away the acorns. Pigs eat green acorns with relish, but cattle and ponies can be poisoned by them, although they still eat them. So if the pigs get there first, this means fewer poisoned ponies. More than five hundred pigs were let out into the forest at the start of pannage season in November this year ” the largest number for decades. Jonathan Gerrelli, New Forest head agister told Country Life magazine

The pigs have done a really good job… [but] as we get towards the end of pannage and the acorns run out the pigs start to wander. Although the pigs are very friendly there is bound to come a time when they come into contact with members of the public who are not geared up towards animals.

How right he was. Luckily for us, some clever dick was there with their camera phone when PC Derek Darling and police dog Ash had just such an encounter. The video is of feeble quality, and appears to have been remixed by some rap DJ – but the speed at which the unfortunate officer pegs it across the grass pursued by the amiable porkers is unmistakable, and quite gratifyingly entertaining. Peruse it below:



Matthew Chatfield

Uncooperative crusty. Unofficial Isle of Wight cultural ambassador. Conservation, countryside and the environment, with extra stuff about spiders.

One thought on “Pannaging pigs chase New Forest policeman plus dog

  • 12th May, 2012 at 6:12 pm

    Saw 6 fat pigs in forest today, 10th september 07, in the forest near Nomansland. Was very surprised. 2 Adult pig brown with black spots. and 3 youngsters, this was first time had heard of pigs in the forest in “modern times”!!. they were much larger than your video. How are they rounded up when “the time comes!!”

    shocked visitor!!!!


Leave a reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.