A HERD of hairy porkers has been given the freedom to pig out on an RSPB reserve in Purbeck for the first time.

Six long fleece Mangalitsa pigs, a breed originally from Hungary, and six rare breed Berkshire pigs are roaming the Arne reserve.

Through wild grazing they are helping restore more than 17 acres back to natural heathland. This is the first time the conservation body has enlisted the help of these pigs with their distinctive long coat, to undertake a restoration project.

They will spend six months with their snouts in the bracken and pine needles creating a perfect habitat for species such as the Dartford warbler, stonechats, smooth snake, nightjar and sand lizard.

“It is an experimental project that we hope will produce fantastic results for nature at our Arne reserve,” said Mark Singleton, RSPB Dorset reserves operations manager.

“Usually we would hire diggers and other machines to remove all of the pine needles from the site but that would have negative impact on the environment. We are hoping these pigs are able to do the same job in a much more environmentally friendly way, and are much more fun.

“Last year’s State of Nature report highlighted that nature in the UK is in trouble, 60 per cent of species have declined in the past 50 years.

“This project is one of many that the RSPB is carrying out to tackle this problem and try to reverse these declines.”

Imported into the UK in 2006, the Mangalitsa pig is gaining in popularity and is even found in homes as it is easily house trained. While the RSPB has employed ponies and sheep to graze reserves, this is the first time pigs have been given the task.