With the ongoing success of our farm here in Essex, I’ve recently been considering the idea of diversification.
Although I don’t much like the idea of opening up the farm as a tourist attraction, I have always wondered what it would be like to raise Wild Boars.
We get so many enquiries at Farmers’ Markets, as to whether we stock Wild Boar Steaks, I’m now considering buying my own small herd.
The Wild Boar was a native dweller of England, before it was hunted to extinction around 300 years ago. Boars usually grow to around a metre in height (taller than the average farmed pig) but usually weigh in a little lighter, at around 90kg the heaviest. Their meat is a rich red colour and carries a gamey flavour that cannot be found in standard pork. It’s meat is also lean, offering a healthier alternative to the fatty meat of the pig.
Although most people have grown accustomed to seeing wild boar on menus at novelty wild burger stands (alongside crocodile and ostrich), many are unaware that the UK has it’s own truly Wild Boar population. In the mid-90s, a mass escape from a farm led to a small herd of wild boars escaping into woodlands near Ross-on-Wye, Herefordshire. For 10 years this small population went about it’s business, slowly growing until an illegal release of 60 farm-reared boars broke onto the scene, bolstering the numbers significantly.
Over the ten years following the return of the Wild Boar to the UK, the numbers have swelled significantly. Recent attempts to number them, using thermal imaging technology, have put their numbers above 1000, with some going as high as over 1500. This had implications on the local environment. There have been reports of dog walkers being attacked and dogs being injured. Farmers have also reported that their lands have been decimated by boars who forage for food late at night.
Regardless of the mixed reputation that the feral population has had amongst the British public, their popularity as a breeding animal has risen in recent years. There are a few pros and cons to breeding Boars. One of the biggest draw backs of farming them is their classification as ‘dangerous wild animals’ by the UK Government. This means that you have to apply for an additional license to keep your animals, as well as pay an increased insurance bill.
Wild Boar are also notoriously good at escaping. If they’re not sufficiently fed, they are known to uproot fence posts and bend wire, in order to search for more food. As such, an electric fence has been recommended to me, by a number of helpful farmers. The Wild Farm are based in Glenlivet, raise Deer, Belted Galloway Cow and Wild Boar, to name a few. They praised the animal as easy to look after, only needing to be fed once a day and being able to live quite happily in the coldest of Scottish Wintrers.