Piglets and Proud Mamas at Ewhurst Park
Springtime is known as the prime time for baby animals, but this year at least our piglets waited until the early Autumn to grace our farm. I love pigs and piglets. They are intelligent, curious and brimming with personality.
While pigs have a reputation for being dirty animals, they are actually far from it. Pigs may wallow in mud in the summer to cool themselves off as they do not sweat, but other than that they are very tidy creatures. Pigs in the wild, and my ones at Ewhurst Park, are quite fastidious about where they eat and sleep, having designated areas for each as well as a separate bathroom space.
Pigs are also some of the most intelligent animals in the world, ranking just behind apes and dolphins in terms of their IQ and learning ability. It is amazing to watch their minds work and take in new information – although their intelligence also causes some problems for me and my team. There have been several moments where I realised our pigs had once again figured out how to escape their enclosure and I found myself running all over the farm, trying to persuade them to come back!
Now that we have young piglets, the mothers are a little bit less likely to go for an impromptu romp around Ewhurst Park, as they are preoccupied with trying to keep their babies from running wild themselves.
In addition to providing endless entertainment, pigs are an incredible force for biodiversity and sustainability. They root through the earth in forests, churning up soil in search of tasty morsels of grubs and roots. By breaking up the hard ground, pigs allow the seeds of wildflowers, shrubs and trees to germinate. The churned ground also provides warm basking spots for grasshoppers, and space to burrow for many species of bees and beetles. The seeds churned up also provide food for hungry birds as the seasons change.
In the summer, these piglets will learn from their mothers how to create cooling mud baths to wallow in. This creates small seasonal wetlands for amphibians and dragonflies to enjoy, and birds to drink out of. Pigs are truly machines of engineering and are a key part of the generational biodiversity project we have embarked on at Ewhurst Park.
It is truly amazing how much these creatures change and benefit the land through their natural habits! I love having pigs at Ewhurst Park, and I look forward to watching this group of curious, happy piglets grow up at the farm.