How Pigs Help to Manage Lands on Islay

When I found the winter 2006-2007 edition of GAP news a few weeks ago I had some very interesting reading before me. GAP by the way stands for Grazing Animals Project and was formed in 1997 to aid the development of conservation grazing throughout the UK. I found a great article, written by Dunlossit Estate Manager Chloë Randall, about pigs and (moor)land management. From what I've been reading in this report there was a need to control the bracken, or even better replace it by grass and heather which would benefit the grazing of the sheep. The pigs on the Dunlossit Estate are playing an important role to achieve these goals as you can read in the report. I have quoted a few paragraphs just to raise your interest. I can really recommend to read the full report yourself. Time for a quote: Continue reading.....

This is not a scientific report: it is a narrative, a (curly) tale. Our pig project started because Dunlossit Estate’s owner, Bruno Schroder, wanted pigs; and so we felt we ought to give him pigs. He had apparently been saying for twenty years that 'pigs are the best answer to managing the woodland' and everyone had laughed. I checked my job description and found that laughing was specifically excluded, so we imported traditional breeds of pig from Dorset – all the way to Islay, not the easiest of journeys for them (which is why later imports were flown in whenever possible).

We had some marvellous effects in the woodland, and started to breed our own to keep the work rolling (it is very difficult to get replacements on a non-pig island). By chance, we put a young boar (future stud) in a convenient corner of moorland to grow to the months of maturity with four male companions (future pork). On a routine visit, we suddenly noticed that – given a wide choice of ground – they had selected and thoroughly trashed a knoll of bracken....

To make a long story short... Due to the great work of the pigs there is strong evidence that the bracken is receding in favour of grass and heather, which is precisely what they wanted to achieve. Tomorrow I'm going to write some lines and show pictures of the seven breeds of rare pigs Dunlossit Estate uses to help managing some of their lands, including the famous Middle White Pig.

The picture of the Middle White Pig is courtesy of Teresa Morris and kindly provided by Fiona MacGregor of Dunlossit Estate.

Tag: land management pigs middle white pig dunlossit estate chloã« randall

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