Three little (conservation) pigs

YOU sometimes hear about pigs in clover, but the three little pigs who have arrived at Bere Marsh Farm near Shillingstone are happy as Larry finding lots of interesting things to explore and even roll in.

The new arrivals are Oxford Sandy and Blacks, a trio of females of this rare breed who have taken up residence in one of the fields with a specific job – to rootle up the ground to create small patches of bare ground for grey willow and other wild plants to establish.

For the next few months, they will be among the happiest pigs in Dorset as they currently have part of a nine-acre field to roam around in, while they unknowingly set about being a pig-shaped positive taskforce for nature.

The idea, suggested by renowned ecologist, Derek Gow, is part of the Countryside Regeneration Trust’s plan to create a ‘wilder’ field where tussocky grass and scattered scrub will be encouraged to develop. This will provide a large area of new habitat for insects and field voles, and plenty more food for the farm’s barn owls.

Bere Marsh Farm volunteers will be on duty every day to feed and check on the welfare of the pigs, following a request for people willing to take part in Operation Pig Watch.

Bere Marsh Farm manager, Elaine Spencer-White is delighted at the response: “We needed five or six people as a minimum, but within 24-hours we had 14 pig-sitters, with two in reserve.”

The volunteers will monitor the pig’s daily welfare, as well as feed them, but it is important there is no set routine to feeding time, other than they will be fed between 8am and midday. The food will be scattered on the field to encourage their rootling activities. It is a new conservation project for Bere Marsh Farm and the CRT hope to see results reasonably quickly.

“We’ll be taking a photo from the same spot overlooking the field so we can keep a detailed record of exactly how, with the pigs’ assistance, habitats develop over future years,” says Elaine..

Pictured: Volunteer Alison Chopping with the three Oxford Sandy and Black sows.