The Twelve days of Pigmas

Twelve reasons why you should try a Mangalitsa Christmas

At the Woolly Pig Company, we believe that good pork raised to the highest ethical and environmental standards should be celebrated, and what better occasion than with family and friends over the festive period.

This month we are encouraging you to include Mangalitsa pork as part of your Christmas celebration by introducing our Mangalitsa Christmas box, a box of carefully selected cuts brought together to help make your Christmas dinner one to remember. 
Its understandable that sometimes people need a good reason to try something new. Well we have decided that instead of giving you one we would give you twelve, one for each of the days of Christmas.
So without further ado lets get started!

Our Delicious Mangalitsa Roasting Joint


A delicious high quality product

1. A meat packed full of flavour: Are you having trouble choosing between pork or beef for Xmas dinner? Why not try something that brings out the best of both! Mangalitsa pork is unlike most pork products in that its much redder meat than you will be used to seeing and with that comes a rich almost beefy flavour. One reasons for this change is that Mangalitsas are a slow raised heritage breed which means they take a longer time to mature and turn out more like how pork would of done in the past. Mangalistsa pork is very well respected by chefs and foodies as one of the best pork products you can buy. People will often advise you to cook Mangalitsa pork at a lower temperature for a longer time frame as almost a midway point between a pork chop and a beef steak. 

2. A healthy meat: Our pigs are raised on an incredibly diverse, healthy and nutrient rich diet foraging most of what they eat naturally on the forest floor. The increased nutrient density of the meat means that your body will be gaining more than usual from every bite. This change adds to the flavour. As the pork is richer, jucier and more succulent because of it. Simply put, healthier and happier pigs means heather and happier customers.

3. Something unique: What gives Mangalitsa pork that edge? Well many people would say that its actually the fats which marble through the meat. When cooked well these fats soften adding an incredible flavour to the dish. In Hungary the fats from the pigs are used in traditional baking and were once the favorite food of the Habsburg Imperial Royal Family during the times of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Some people avoid fats worrying what it might do to your waistline but these are not ones you want to miss out on as they are higher in anti inflammatory omega 3 (higher than many verities of fish) and in omega 6 fatty acids aswell as containing  essential antioxidants. Source Nistor E. et. al 2012. 

The Ethical Choice

Disclaimer: If you don't like to get to know your food before you eat it this might not be the section for you.

4. Farmed with greatest of care and understanding: As farmers we see it as our role to give our livestock hundreds of good days before they go for what we call their one bad day. We farm in what could be considered a dream home for a pig. Naturally pigs are forest dwelling creatures so therefore have evolved to find everything they need both physically and mentally from a forested landscape, so our primary responsibility in caring for the pigs is maintaining a healthy, diverse woodland for them to live in. We also ensure they always have access to top quality fresh water, which is very easy to come across in the hills of Ayrshire, as well as building the pigs warm insulated shelters from up-cycled materials and wood felled and milled onsite for those particularly cold days. 

5. Pigging out: A pig is never happier than when its munching down on a mouthful of food and in their mind nothing beats Mother Nature's buffet. Having choice in what to eat is vital to how we view pigs health. Instinctively our pigs know how best to forage in a woodland, naturally seeking out the plants with the right nutrients they need to provide a balanced diet. Surveys we have carried out in just one of our twenty paddocks in July found over 120 species of plant on the forest floor. We implement a grazing plan where every day we observe the pigs eating habits and move them onto fresh grazing when the time is right. This ensures the pigs can have constant access to a diverse and healthy forage without depleting it. A healthy diet means that we almost never encounter sickness or poor health within our herd meaning that we don't need to provide any routine medications. We also don't need to supply our pigs with much supplementary feed, only supplying the pigs with 3% of their diet through the summer months in order to train them to follow us when we have food. The feed we do supply is locally sourced from a company right here in Ayrshire and is GM and soya free. 

6. Plenty of piggy pals. Pigs are herd animals and form a tight knit groups called sounders. The pigs guide each other to food and water, bed down together for warmth and feel safer when around other pigs. Within these groups they have very complicated social hierarchies that are maintained though a number of vocal and physical interactions. We graze our pigs in large groups which allows the pigs to express these behaviors and create bonds. This has a positive effect on every one of the pigs well being no matter where they sit in the pecking order. Observing these behaviors to identify who belongs to each group helps us to manage the pigs so that we don't disrupt this when moving pigs around. Allowing our pigs to express their pigness to the full and showing the upmost respect for our pigs is a win-win scenario for us and a practice we are committed to continuing.



A Gift To Nature

This is where it really gets exciting

7. Pigs, the gift that keeps on giving: Our pigs might not know it but they have an incredibly important job to do. They don't just live in the woodlands and wetlands at Brodoclea but actually help them flourish and grow. As the pigs work through the woodland they disrupt the species of dominant plants like bracken that seek to create mono-cultures on the forest floor. Acting as a natural control for these species the pigs create opportunities for a much wider variety of plant life to thrive including many species of wildflower who in turn attract pollinators like bees and butterflies into the woodland. The space to thrive isn't the only gift the pigs offer these plants though, the pigs also help distribute seeds which collects in their wool which then they naturally shed through the summer and grow back in the winter, distributing small seed bombs around the site. They pigs also add their gut fauna and flora into the mix with a healthy injection of vital nutrients that plants need to grow. For these species benefiting from the work of the pigs it must feel like Christmas everyday. 

8. Feathery friends: Robins are seen as a symbol of Christmas and indeed we see a lot of them at this time of year. They stick to our pigs like glue, sometimes perching right on the pigs back as they root around in the ground, ready to swoop down to gobble up any insects the pigs uncover. This wonderful symbiotic relationship has been taking place in our countryside for thousands of years but not so long ago was brought to a stop when our native wild boar species were hunted to extinction. Robins are not the only feathery friend benefiting from the presence of our pigs, a bird survey we conducted last June found 42 separate species onsite and many more have been spotted since. Interestingly it was also observed that there was a greater diversity in species of birds spotted in the areas where the pigs were grazing when compared to a similar area that we purposefully leave permanently pig free. This was explained by the ecologist who observed that the pigs were creating perfect breeding grounds for several species of invertebrates that the birds were feasting on as well as providing nesting material from their wool and bits of broken foliage. It's fantastic after all this time to see pigs and birds reunited among the trees on this hillside once again. 

9. Rooting around the Christmas tree: One of the most satisfying symbiotic relationships we see unfolding onsite is between the two undisputed stars of the show, our pigs and the trees. The pigs benefit from the presence of the trees as they provide shelter and the nuts that fall in the autumn are one of the pigs favourite meals, but incredibly the trees also benefit from actions of the pigs. By controlling the dominant species of grass the pigs provide space and light for young trees to grow. The pigs also help the trees elude another big danger in those first few years when the trees are at their most vulnerable, Voles like to chew through the stems of young saplings using the cover of the foliage to slip around unnoticed. By grazing around the trees the pigs take away some of the cover used by the Voles, thus creating opportunity's for Owls, Kestrels, foxes and weasels to hunt them. Voles breed rapidly so this behavior by the pigs helps the other species in the woods to keep their numbers in check. In so many ways pigs are the missing link to this ecosystem and they give nature just the little shove it needs to get going.

The Big picture

10. Rising to the challenge: These are troubling times in a changing world and big questions are being asked around agriculture's response will be. We firmly believe that rural communities are often best placed to answer these big questions, highlighting potential solutions on their own patch which in a small but meaningful way can make a difference. Farming pigs in a way that enhances woodland creation has been our contribution to this. We have highlighted how our pigs help the woodland to grow and create space for greater biodiversity. The trees and improved soils capture greenhouse gasses, provide oxygen, decrease pollution and most importantly store much more water onsite. This extra water is really important as it makes our site more resilient to the increasing extremes that we are facing weather wise at the moment, soaking up excess water during winters heavy rains and releasing it slowly during summers high temperatures. This along with the pigs work in reducing the fuel load on the forest floor means that we have far reduced the risk of the greatest danger to any woodland, fire. As well as providing environmental benefits to the local towns downstream from us who have often faced problems with flooding. 

11. Bringing people back to the land: Rural communities are declining as people find it increasingly difficult to carve out a life for themselves in these areas. From the start of the project at Brodoclea its been important to us to include the needs of local communities into how we manage the woodland. As it stands our pork enterprise supports the wage of one full time job and part of another. Part of the job is creating opportunities for more people to come, enjoy and make use of the woodland. We support a number of local businesses from educators who use the site to share skills, to our butchers, feed suppliers and couriers. We have also added community access gates, bins and picnic benches so that walkers, joggers, horse riders and cyclists can make use of the paths that cut through the woodland without disturbing the pigs. Working with local schools, universities and community groups we have organised many events for people onsite to come and learn about biodiversity, agroforestry and woodland creation. This is all made possible by the sale of our top quality produce, so if you have bought our pork or are about to then we would just like to say thank you for making this work possible.

12. Looking to the future: Its safe to say were only just getting started, we have bigs plans for the future and how we can continue this work. The support given by our customers is helping make those plans a reality. At Brodoclea we want to keep building this picture where local communities and nature work together. Creating as many opportunities for people and wildlife as we possibly can. Everything we do onsite is regenerative and increasingly self sustaining meaning that in theory we can continue doing this work indefinitely. We are also working on our next agroforestry project which is on the beautiful island of Mull. Swapping woolly pigs for woolly cows, we are designing our woodland onsite around the cattle in order to enhance biodiversity and connect two pieces of Celtic rainforest. We are pleased to say that we have already secured the employment of one talented young local who is has a firm grip on the reigns farming our growing herd of cattle and are looking to build from there. The future is looking bright.

 The best way to support the work that we do is by treating yourself to one of our incredible pork boxes.

Follow this link below to purchase or find out more.