Lucinda Spicer says of her wild-boar farming: ‘It’s very different from working in the City.’ She and her former-City husband, Ernest Smart, have farmed wild boar on the Highland hills near Inverness for six years (Scottish Wild Boar, 01463 741807; www.scottishwildboar.co.uk). They now have 200 animals 160 for meat and 40 breeding stock which live wild in large enclosures among the forests and bracken. They come from the East European species and were bought
via Sweden ‘because Sweden is picky about the breeding and we were less likely to end up with pigs’. Gradually, the stock has been improved to reduce any domestic pig element. Unusually, the company’s animals are tagged. Unusually, because it’s so difficult to get close enough to the beasts. ‘Unless you work with them from day one, it’s impossible to handle them. I’ve had some spectacular bruises and they bite they have
flesh tearing teeth.
They’re killers,’ she says, agreeing that rearing wild boar needs lion tamer’s skills. They’re also strong enough to knock down walls and telegraph poles. Few locals are willing to work with them, so Miss Spicer does it herself. The meat itself is ‘fine textured, and has little fat and no porky tang. It’s just different.’ But, until April, it won’t be available, as the animals have now started to farrow. Even then, unless you live around Beauly, you’ll probably need to find a different supplier or a butcher who’ll buy whole carcasses from them. But there is good news.
The wild boar have made a spectacular difference to bracken and gorse scrub on the hills. When these destructive weeds are gone, the land regenerates itself within two years. ‘The increase in birds has been phenomenal. We have barn owls, so we don’t need to use rat poison.’ Wild boar were hunted to extinction 200 years ago in Scotland. Putting them back on the land has been good news all round.