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The commoning year

The commoning year

The commoning year is unique to each family and every commoner operates in a slightly different way. This is what creates the mosaic of grazing patterns which contributes to the unique biodiversity of the New Forest. This calendar gives you an overview of the year in the commoning community.

January

  • Marking fees due for each animal a commoner turns out onto the Forest
  • Cattle tagged and tails cut by Agister
  • TB testing of cattle
  • Many cattle herds come in to the smallholding daily for supplementary feed.

February

  • Controlled burning of heathland resumes dependent on weather
  • Heather baling
  • Judging of Forest Fed competition

March

  • Burning finishes at the end of this month

April

  • Stallions are inspected
  • Foals born
  • Commoners begin making silage on their back up grazing land

May

  • Annual tour to assess welfare of livestock
  • Beaulieu Road pony sale
  • Foals born

June

  • Ponies begin to go to shade for hot part of the day to avoid flies
  • Ponies and cattle grazing the lawns and wet areas

July

  • Hay making continues
  • Ragwort is pulled to prevent ponies eating it
  • New Forest Show

August

  • Drifts begin to round up ponies
  • Beaulieu Road pony sale
  • Branding of foals to remain on the Forest
  • Tail marking all ponies caught on the drift and recorded in the Agister’s diary
  • New Forest Pony Breeding and Cattle Society Annual Breed Show
  • Straw cart begins

September

  • Beaulieu Road pony sale
  • Fern cutting and baling
  • Wood cart begins for winter store
  • Pannage season begins – pigs marked, rung, turned out and paid for
  • Some cattle brought in to back up grazing to avoid acorns
  • Hedge cutting on back up grazing land

October

  • Drifts continue
  • Checking stock
  • Ponies eating ash leaves in the woodlands
  • Stallions to winter grazing on Forest estates
  • Repair of fencing in preparation for winter
  • Beaulieu Road pony sale
  • Fern cutting and baling
  • Many commoners get cattle in because of the risk of acorn poisoning

November

  • Checking stock
  • Winter welfare tour
  • Drifts continue
  • Fitness training for Point to Point race
  • Beaulieu Road pony sale

December

  • Beaulieu Road pony sale
  • Holly cutting
  • Boxing Day Point-to-Point
  • Ponies browsing holly and gorse (fuzzing)
  • Commoners supplementing the feed of stock where necessary on back up land with hay and silage made in the summer
  • Some cattle in daily for supplementary feed
  • Pannage season usually ends this month.

Neville
Penman
National Park Member

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'Please don’t feed or pet the animals; they may look friendly but they can bite and kick.'

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