These must be the happiest pigs in Huddersfield … if not the world.
A sanctuary on the outskirts of a village is a special place for rescued pigs where they are treated with kindness, compassion and respect.
Pigs In The Wood is based in 10 acres of woodland on Wakefield Road in Scissett and is home to 20 pigs, six goats, a hen and a cockerel cared for by a team of volunteers.
Many are rescue animals and the sanctuary means they can live the rest of their lives roaming free.
Pigs In The Wood was set up in 2014 by Jac and Russell Haggata who are still very much involved.
More volunteers are always needed but the sanctuary is holding a special one-off volunteering event so people can help get the sanctuary shipshape before summer.
The maintenance day is on Monday, May 8, from 10.30am onwards and coincides with the King’s Coronation weekend with Monday set aside for people to do some volunteering under the theme The Big Help Out.
The work that needs doing includes cleaning shelters, painting woodwork, clearing mud and replacing mud barriers, pipe-lagging and burying along with cutting bushes back.
The sanctuary’s basic running costs are £43 a day – that’s £15,700 a year – but on top of that money is needed for straw, medication, vets bills and maintenance, among lots of other outgoings.
Sanctuary volunteer and trustee Ann Hall said Pigs In The Wood relies totally on fundraising and the dedicated team of volunteers. Some live locally to Denby Dale but others travel from as far as Dewsbury, Sheffield and even Manchester.
People can adopt an animal for a year for £25 which means they can also visit their pig four times a year.
There is an Adopt page on the website with photos of each animal and their history.
For instance, Mabel came from a breeder in Hertfordshire who had no use for her but was unable to sell her without her pedigree papers. She came to Pigs In The Wood with her piglets Jingle and Belle.
Arthur was rescued from a farm where he was kept in the back of a trailer alone.
And then there is Harry Trotter who was given away by a farmer as he was considered the runt of the litter. He loves to be the centre of attention and will happily sit for a biscuit.
The oldest pig is Raph who is 15 and is known as ‘king of the woods.’ The newest arrival is Gloria who had been kept indoors all her life to breed but a farmer wanted to get rid of her when her last litter all died and so was facing the bleak prospect of being slaughtered.
Ann said: “When Gloria first arrived with us at the end of February she was absolutely petrified as some of the pigs can be traumatised by what they’ve endured in the past. But Gloria is loving her new home now.”
The pigs all live in stables and huts and have their own beds yet love to sleep in groups huddled up to one another.
Ann added: “They are such sociable and loving animals both to each other and to us.”
A rota of volunteers care for the pigs, feeding them each morning and evening, cleaning up – some even need a wash – replacing bedding and giving the animals attention. Some pick up injuries in the woods which need treating and some are even on medication for long-running conditions such as arthritis. Each shift is at least three hours.
There are eight breeds of pigs including Kune Kune, Mangalitza and Pietrain.
People can visit the sanctuary for a tour every Saturday or Sunday. Guided tours begin at 10.45am and 11.30am and last round three hours so people can then wander around the site, meet the pigs and have a drink and piece of cake in its vegan cafe.
Wellies or walking boots need to be worn and every visitor must gave a donation of at least £6 and book in advance through the website https://www.pigsinthewood.com/visits-events
Visitors are welcome to bring food for the pigs which can be any of these – grass hay, pasta, watermelon, carrots, pumpkin, peppers, tomatoes, spinach and other leafy greens, apples and other fruits, bananas, asparagus, lettuce, cucumber, courgette and marrows.
Events coming up this year include an eco Easter egg hunt on Sunday, April 9; a Pig Gig on the weekend of August 5 and 6 including live music; Halloween on Saturday, October 28 featuring free-roaming zombies and a party. All can be booked through the website www.pigsinthewood.com
For the Easter event go to www.seetickets.com/tour/Easter-eco-egg-hunt.
Ann will be running the Leeds Half Marathon in May to try to raise a few hundred pounds.
She said: “Our aim is to provide a home for pigs and other animals that have been abused and mistreated. Where we are unable to take pigs into our sanctuary we help to find them a home and are building contacts to give them more prospects to find them a safe, loving place to live.”
- Written by ANDY HIRST who runs his own Yorkshire freelance journalism agency AH! PR (https://ah-pr.com/) specialising in press releases, blogging, website content and copywriting.