The pig shown is a Mangalitza or Woolly Pig found in Austria, Germany, Hungary, Romania and Switzerland.
The whole Mangalitza breed was almost lost with the total population world-wide down to less than 150 sows in 1993. Thanks to the work of a small group of dedicated breeders, the Mangalitza has been brought back from the verge of extinction. It is now farmed on large units in Hungary and has been exported to North America as well as the UK.
Imported into the UK in 2006, there are 7 female lines and 3 boar lines established. There are three distinct types within the breed : the Blonde, the Red and the unique Swallow Bellied (above) with its white underline. All three types are very hardy. The Swallow bellied Mangalitza was developed in the 1800’s from crossing the Blonde with the Black Mangalitza. Unfortunately the Black pig became extinct in the 1970’s with the last known herd on the Serb islands in the Danube.
They are a fairly primitive breed, lively and friendly, with strong maternal instincts. Litter sizes are currently not large, averaging about 6.
Once renowned as a Lard Pig capable of producing 70 litres of rendered fat, the Mangalitza has carved out new niche markets in forestry projects and the production of special hams and salamis. The breed was featured at the Salone Del Gusto in Turin in 2004. The meat is well marbled so that it is tastier and less dry than that from more modern breeds. The fat is also special as it has a higher level of monounsaturated fats, meaning it goes rancid less easily which is good for long curing. It also has a healthier balance of Omega 3 to Omega 6 fatty acids than seed oils which have become so popular in modern cookery.
The Mangalitza is an unusual, very attractive breed, and has a serious contribution to make as a specialist food product.