Its the start of a new venture for the Happy Pig Club - or more accurately the start of a new adventure for nine of our weaners.
We've partnered with those good folk at Sywell Country Park in Northamptonshire to use the eager foraging and rooting skills of some of our pigs in a fascinating 'rewilding' experiment.
Wild boar have been extinct in the UK for several centuries - albeit some populations are rebounding. They used to form a key part in the eco-system with their rootling and distubance of soil
encouraging a great variety of wild flowers, insects, funghi and other nature to thrive.
The rewilding experiment at Sywell Country Park aims to use some of our herd to mimic the behaviour of wildboar and track their impact on the conservation of the area..... The Park Rangers have described them as eco-engineers. We rather like that new monikor!
A successful project of this type has taken place over the last ten to twenty years on the Knepps Estate in Sussex where a herd of Tamworth Pigs have roamed freely around the entire landscape amongst other grazing animals. The impact has been phemonemenal with the country estate rebounding from being largely barren farmland to a rich eco system with booming numbers of birds, butterflies, funghi and wild flowers. The owners of the estate have credited their Tamworths with having the biggest impact on the rewilding of their land.
And so nine of our pigs have travelled a short distance of about a mile from where they were born and are now living in their own vast country estate of more than five acres! They will spend the summer at the park - if all goes well - before they trot off having lived their best possible life.
In the five acres given to them they have a vast pasture meadow, streams, ponds, woodland and marshes - it will be fascinating to see how they respond and act in such a vast and varied environment. Over this first week they have kept largely close to their pig ark but there are now signs of some more adventurous behaviour. Pigs hisorically have been strong swimmers - it will be interesting to see how they respond to the ponds in their area.....and lets hope they don't find their way to the reservoir to join the open water swimmers.
Here at Happy Pig Club we have always prided ourselves on our Free-Range ethos and sustainable food production. This experiment is a different level. There's Free-Range and then there's this. These are Wild-Range pigs.
The final element of the experiment will be the impact of this life on the final meat that comes from them. We take supreme pride in the quality of our Free-Range pork and truely believe the life we give all our pigs with their ability to run, roam and root and the time to grow slowly, adds huge amounts of flavour to our pork, putting it head and shoulders (or should that be belly and shoulders) above the often grey and bland pork found in many supermarkets.
So if Free-Range Pork delivers that incredible difference in quality - what will Wild-Range do? We'll find out at Christmas.