Before you buy, feed, and raise a pig for meat, read all about Mangalitsa pigs from the UK, and how cross-breeding can improve your homestead.
We love raising heritage breeds on our homestead and the Mangalitsa pigs can’t be beat for the best-tasting meat and their high amount of lard.
Usually, when raising an animal, the fat is not the majority. Mangalitsas are known as “lard pigs” because of the large amount of lard you’ll get when harvesting your animal.
If you aren’t looking for a high lard yield, you may be disappointed with a Mangalitsa. We absolutely love the taste of Mangalitsa meat and we use our lard, but with a growing family, we have decided Mangalitsa can’t be the only pork we raise.
We’ve decided to start crossing our Mangalitsa with another heritage breed called Old Spots. The Old Spot is a fast-growing feeder breed with more lean meat and the cross will give us faster-growing meat with delicious fat marbling.
What Are Mangalitsa Pigs?
The Mangalitsa breed of pig is the last pig in existence to have a curly fleece which makes it resemble a sheep. It is an Old World heritage breed that comes from Hungary and wasn’t brought into the United States until 2010.
In the 1800s, the Mangalitsas were the most commonly raised breed, but by the 1990s the numbers of Mangalitsas were fewer than 200 and they were mainly located in Hungary.
Why Did the Mangalitsa Pigs Almost Go Extinct?
The Mangalitsa pigs are considered to be “lard pigs”. Long before there were cooking oils, this pig was great for providing all the lard needed for cooking, candles, cosmetics, soap, and industrial lubricants.
In the 20th century, people became concerned with saturated fats and started moving toward using plant-based oils. What they didn’t realize at the time though, is that lard has more unsaturated fat than equal amounts of butter, and has no trans fat like shortening and margarine.
As cooks began to realize that nothing has the flavor and cooking qualities of lard, these amazing pigs have made a comeback.
Pros and Cons of Mangalitsa Pigs
Every homestead has different needs. As with any breed of animal on your homestead, it’s important to know what each breed has to offer. Below are the pros and cons of Mangalistas.
Pros of Mangalitsa Pigs
- Thick Fat Cap – Mangalitsa pork has a thick fat cap which is one of its main selling points. The white fat is delicious and we use it in much of our cooking and baking.
- Tasty – Mangalitsa meat is high in Omega-3 fatty acids and is delicious. It’s considered to be the best tasting pork out there and is often called the “Kobe beef of pork”. This amazing flavor is due to the marbling of fat in the meat.
- Adorable – These hairy pigs are adorable and come with blond, red or black curly fleece.
- Minimal Work – The Mangalista pig is happy to stay in his area with just a single string of electric fencing.
- Easy – The Mangalitsa pigs are docile and very hardy and can live in almost any environment. They are very friendly and will follow you around like a dog.
- Foragers – This can be a pro or a con. If you want your area rooted up for planting, they will do an amazing job. They love to root for grubs and will be perfectly happy in a wooded area or a field. We used them to prep our high-tunnel areas and then transferred them to help with the perimeter of our pond on our property in South Carolina.
Cons of Mangalitsa Pigs
- Thick Fat Cap – This is only a con if you aren’t expecting lots of lard.
- Slow Growing – The Mangalitsa pigs are slow growers so they aren’t good for mass-market production. They are typically slaughtered between 15 months and 18 months. At this point, they will weigh approximately 300 pounds. This is much longer than a typical meat pig which reaches the weight to slaughter at 6 to 7 months.
- Hard to Find – As the Mangalitsa make their way back from near extinction, they can be hard to find and tend to be more expensive than other breeds.
- Foragers – Again, this can be a pro or a con. If you don’t want your area rooted up, don’t put a Mangalitsa there.
How Do I Use All This Lard?
With the abundance of lard each Magnalista provides, there is an equal abundance of uses.
- Making Leaf Lard – Leaf lard comes from the fat around the pig's kidneys and loins and is considered the highest grade of lard. It has a very smooth consistency, will be snow-white in color and has a clean flavor. This is best used in pastries where you don't want a strong lard flavor.
- Pie Crust – Lard has an amazing way of making your pie crust delicious while also incorporating healthy fats into your pie. Try it while making our favorite chocolate cream pie recipe.
- Cookies – Try replacing the butter or shortening in your cookie recipes with leaf lard. You’ll have the softest cookies ever!
- Frying – Use lard for frying everything. Making this one change will add incredible flavor to your food. Frying potatoes in lard gives you a delicious, crispy treat.
- Greasing Your Pans – I can’t speak highly enough about the benefits of using cast iron pans. Lard is the perfect seasoning for treating cast iron.
- Beauty Products – Lard works great in making soap, and makes an excellent moisturizer. Try it on your cuticles, “gardener’s hands”, or on dry cracked heels.
- Squeaky Doors – Lard makes a great homemade WD-40.
- Candles – Years ago, homesteaders used lard to make candles or as a type of oil for their lanterns.
- Shiny Hair – Mix two tablespoons of lard with two tablespoons of castor oil, apply to your hair and wrap it in plastic wrap for an hour and then rinse. Your hair will have an amazing shine.
As you can see, there are many pros and cons of raising Mangalitsa pigs. You just have to decide what works best for you and your family. I will always be glad we started with them!
More Homesteading Tips
- The Best & Easiest Method of Bottle Feeding Goats
- The Best Chicken Breeds for YOU
- How to Build Pig Shelters On a Budget
- Raising Meat On the Homestead (Answers to Frequently Asked Questions)
- The “Scoop” On Feeding Our Farm
- Breeding Animals 101:A Resource for the Homesteader
- Heritage Breeds for the Homestead