A real pig’s din­ner

Country Life Every Week - - Letters To The Editor -

IWOULD like to of­fer a word of warn­ing on the use of pigs to clear un­der­growth (‘Send in the sows’, Jan­uary 18). Tra­di­tion­ally, woods

used to feed stock for short pe­ri­ods: trees were cop­piced in late sum­mer for cat­tle and pigs were herded through in au­tumn to feed on mast. The graz­ing would only go on for a few days, do­ing lit­tle damage to the ground flora and fauna.

If pigs are kept on the ground for longer pe­ri­ods, the ef­fects can be se­vere, leav­ing bare soil that’s at risk of ero­sion in win­ter rain. Fox­gloves are com­mon colonis­ers in such con­di­tions, as are net­tles, but it is bram­bles that are a key species for small mam­mals, birds and but­ter­flies.

Wood­lands have a com­pli­cated ecol­ogy and can eas­ily suf­fer per­ma­nent harm. Antony Jarvis, Lin­colnshire

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