Now that our new pig workforce has arrived at Lynbreck we’d like to tell you more about our plans for them and their successors. First and foremost we want to let them do what they do best – snuffle day in and day out. It will therefore be our challenge to harness the snuffle energy and put it to good use around the croft…
We chose to get three rare breed Oxford Sandy and Black as they are the perfect breed for us; they’re hairy, hardy and hardworking which is ideal as they’ll have to cope with being in some fairly rough weather (although we will of course provide them with a cosy hut at all times). They’re also very friendly which is a big bonus and we aim to maintain a stress free environment for them and let them get on with their jobs.
We believe that all animals kept at Lynbreck need to have a purpose to their croft lives while ultimately contributing to food production. That means every breed of animal will have a specific role to play in benefitting the land. Put simply, if the land is healthy it will help to keep the animals healthy.
So, Team Pig is going to be very busy with a lot of snuffle related jobs ahead for them that we think will make them very happy. We have started them off in a fenced strip of land below one of our grazing fields where we’ll be planting a native tree shelterbelt this winter. It is currently a mini jungle of dock, nettles, bracken (which we crushed repeatedly this summer) and cocksfoot grass.
The plan is to move the pigs through in little electric fenced paddocks and keep them there just long enough to hit back some of the vegetation which will then reduce the amount of competition for the wee trees, at least initially. The trick will be to avoid the ground being churned up too much which would damage the soil structure.
Upon completion of this task the pigs will then be promoted to the position of (drum roll) ‘woodland restorers’.
They will be moved to a strip of birch woodland with very little species diversity both in terms of trees and ground flora. Under a Forestry Commission approved management plan, the woodland will undergo some restoration work in the coming years. This will include some enrichment planting of other species this winter, but we’d also like to see some natural regeneration of trees and an increase in woodland flower species in the future.
Cue PIG SNOUTS!
The pigs will be moved through the woodland in a similar fashion to the shelterbelt and will help clear some of the grass clumps and other dense vegetation. Again we’ll have to make sure that soil and tree roots won’t get damaged. This setting should really please the pigs because Oxford Sandy and Blacks are also known as Woodland Pigs! See? We knew they’d be the pigs for us….
This kind of land management technique will require a lot of observation and experimenting, but we think it will be successful and could be used in all sorts of areas around the croft.
We’ll keep you posted on the snuffle progress…