Adding a Mangalitsa pig to your homestead can bring plenty of diversity. Not only do they have an incredibly rich history, but you can also use them for a wide assortment of things. Mangalitsa pigs have a unique appearance, fabulous meat, and offer many other impressive benefits.
To get to know this pig breed better, here’s a brief look into its interesting history.
Early 19th Century
Depending on where you are in the world, Mangalitsa pigs are also known as Mangalica or Mangalitza. Indigenous to Hungary, their popularity boomed during the 19th century.
Archduke Joseph Anton Johanna received Sumadija pigs as a gift during the Austro-Hungarian Empire. A few years passed, and he decided to breed his pigs with Szalonta and Bakony pigs, resulting in a new breed.
The Mangalitsa is different from others, distinct for their curly hair, and is often referred to as hairy pigs. Their popularity continued to grow until their breed became official in 1927.
1927 to 1950
There were plenty of notable figures that owned them, including Emperor Franz Josef I of Austria, who is said to have had three million.
You would also find that they would bring in significant earnings for farmers at pig fairs, primarily until the 1950s. One of their most notable characteristics was their ability to produce excessive amounts of fat.
Homesteaders would use the lard for several things, ranging from cooking to cosmetics. Some individuals even used pig fat for explosives and industrial lubricants.
During World War II, the number of Mangalitsa pigs significantly reduced worldwide, especially with Hungary’s losses. Not only was it relatively impossible for farmers to afford to own the pigs, but their famous lard was also in less demand.
During the 1950s, the pigs were nearly extinct due to scientific developments that found saturated fat was dangerous for humans. More people noted that Mangalitsa pork was harmful to long-term health; however, this wasn’t the case.
1990 to Present
It wasn’t until recently that scientists found that lard has less saturated fat than butter. Also, it doesn’t contain trans fats, which you would commonly find in hydrogenated vegetable fat.
Unfortunately, as these discoveries are new, they led to the significant decline of the breed worldwide. When more intensified agriculture came into play during the 1970s, raising a herd of Mangalitsa became more challenging.
They were more time-consuming to care for than more modern pig breeds, and they took up too much space on farms.
Many farmers also found that they produced far fewer piglets, and traditional farming became less popular.
As early as 1990, there were fewer than 200 of these pigs worldwide; today, there are over 50,000. You can even find notable organizations dedicated to preserving the breed, as they came so close to being considered endangered. In Hungary, you will find they are popular to raise.
Another interesting fact is that researchers may have found a link suggesting they are a direct relative of the wild boar.
What Is Most Unique About a Mangalitsa Pig?
Interestingly enough, what is most unique about a Mangalitsa pig almost caused it to go extinct—it’s fat.
Mangalitsa pig fat has a luxurious nature that is said to melt in your mouth, making it a phenomenal addition to meals. Its meat is also unique in that many refer to it as the “Kobe beef of the pig world.”
You’ll often find that homesteaders refer to these pigs as the fattiest in the world. On average, their total body weight accounts for 60% to 70% fat and up to 35% lean meat.
Most modern breeds, on the other hand, only have up to 50% fat.
How Big Do Mangalitsa Pigs Get?
These pigs require a lot of care and attention to grow to their fullest potential. In fact, many farms stopped breeding them because they don’t grow as quickly as other pig breeds.
So, how big do Mangalitsa pigs get, really? With proper care, they can grow as large as 400 pounds, if not larger.
As with any other animal on your farm, their size will depend on their health and diet. Mangalitsa pigs are foragers, which means they will require plenty of space on your farm to peruse through fields.
You will also need to provide them with extra bulking materials, such as corn, barley, and wheat.
Over two years, you can quickly increase your pig’s weight to just under 800 pounds at finishing weight, which offers a substantial amount of meat.
For homesteaders, raising Mangalitsa pigs can be substantially different than the other animals you own.
Instead of needing to prepare plenty of space for meat, you’ll need plenty of room for dealing with fat. Remember, some animals can contain up to 70% fat out of 400 pounds of body weight.
Taking advantage of it can allow you to make a substantial sum of money on your hogs. Most farmers find that selling the fat for cosmetics and soaps can bring in a considerable sum.
Is Mangalitsa Pig Meat the Best?
Pork is the most widely consumed meat in the United States, and you’ll find that Mangalitsa is the best pork to enjoy. Sandwiched between layers of supple fat, the meat creates a melt-in-your-mouth texture you won’t soon forget. Also, it offers many health benefits.
Another reason as to why you might find this pork to be the best is because of how versatile it is.
Many people ask, are Mangalitsa pigs good for eating? Definitely! Not only can you make savory meals, but you can also use it for baking, such as lard used for pastries. (Another lard pig breed to consider are Berkshire pigs.)
More families are purchasing Mangalitsa pig meat in smaller cuts, such as roasts, hams, bacon, and chops. You can also find a substantial number of more massive cuts, including hind legs and whole shoulders.
Even the back fat can be put to fair use, likely as some of the best cooking fat you can get your hands on.
Beyond meals, the lard in these pigs is in such excess that you can use it across several industries. Overall, it’s one of the most multi-purpose animals that you can introduce to your homestead. Another meat breed to consider is the Hampshire pig.
Are Mangalitsa Pigs Good for Eating?
When you work with Mangalitsa pork, you’ll find that it has an exceptionally dark red color with beautiful marbling.
Its unique taste is flavorful, and the fat contains several essential vitamins and minerals. In Mangalitsa lard, you’ll find omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, antioxidants, vitamin D, omega-9, and monounsaturated fat.
Eating Mangalitsa pork has a noticeable difference compared to modern breeds, too. The creamy white fat helps to soothe the meat to a gentle and soft texture.
You’ll also find that it has a more pork-forward flavoring, likely due to their natural diet of barley, corn, wheat, and forage.
Why Is Mangalitsa Pork So Expensive?
The main factor that influences the cost of Mangalitsa pork is the environment they are raised in.
Farmers have to spend a lot more of their time nurturing these animals to reach their full potential. With that said, the more time required, the more expensive the meat will become.
A few factors that go into determining the price of Mangalitsa pig meat include:
Mangalitsa pigs don’t do well with modern-day farming techniques, as they are innately meant to roam. Farmers will have to allocate a significant chunk of their property to these hogs to have freedom.
Otherwise, they will experience extreme anxiety, which can sour their meat and lessen their fat production. Because they need a large piece of land, farmers are bound to increase their by-products’ prices.
Flavor and Demand
Anything that tastes good or is recognized as the best of something is going to cost more. Mangalitsa pork is commonly referred to as the best-tasting pork in the world, which means it’s going to have a higher price.
Nevertheless, it’s well worth the investment for many families. Not only is the meat’s texture different from any other pork you’ve experienced, but its flavor is also unique.
You’ll be paying mostly for the superior taste and heightened genes that help to make it a one-of-a-kind ingredient.
Strict Breeding Standards
All Mangalitsa pigs are unique in the sense that they’re not native to most areas. Raising them requires farmers to adhere to strict breeding standards to ensure their meat is healthy and delicious.
Unlike factory-bred hogs, these pigs require special raising techniques and more focus. These standards undoubtedly represent a significant chunk of the cost.
Above all else, these hogs’ life cycle is another reason why is Mangalitsa pork so expensive. As farmers can’t turn around and profit immediately, the meat is bound to be more expensive.
Factory-bred pigs will go through their life cycle quite quickly, while Mangalitsa pigs don’t. They require years of optimization, and their slower growth rate ensures their meat and fat is of a higher quality.
Pros and Cons of Raising Mangalitsa Pigs
Now that you’re aware of Mangalitsa hogs’ history and quality of meat, let’s get into the pros and cons of raising them and whether they are livestock to consider.
Pros of raising a Mangalitsa pig
Compared to other big breeds, you’ll find that raising Mangalitsas offers a long list of advantages and benefits.
One of the most significant advantages of owning Mangalitsa pigs is that they have a mild temperament.
In fact, it’s so mild that children can assist with raising and maintaining them over the years. They are quite friendly and will make a wonderful addition to pig breeds currently at your homestead.
Make Unique Pets
Did you know that some homesteaders opt to own a Mangalitsa pig as a pet rather than livestock?
They can be a joy to have around your farm with their mild temperaments, especially as piglets. They are available in an assortment of colors, too, which is a significant selling point.
Some farmers have found that with appropriate treatment, these pigs can be just as gentle as dogs.
They’re fun to play with, easy to tame over time, and can become a phenomenal addition to your family. However, they are best suited to be bred for their meat and by-products.
Caring for livestock properly is essential. If you have plenty of space for your animals, this is a significant benefit of these pigs. You’ll want to let them roam freely so that they can enjoy the benefits of foraging.
This benefit is particularly crucial for homesteaders who enjoy replanting, as your new pigs will handle the dirty work of tearing everything up.
Compared to other types of pork, you’ll find Mangalitsa pork is one of the healthier options. It contains plenty of fat, but it is a healthier alternative thanks to its vitamins and minerals.
If you’re searching for a slice of meat packed with fatty acids, you’ll have omega-3s, omega-6s, and omega-9s to enjoy.
Adaptable and Hardy
It’s important to remember the first generations of Mangalitsas were found in Hungary. As they were exposed to extreme temperatures, they’re one of the hardiest pig breeds. You’ll find that they do exceptionally well in cold and warm climates alike.
Easy to Raise
Although it can be time-consuming to wait for your pigs to mature, raising them can be simple. They can be beneficial as long as you know how to prepare your property using a few essential tips.
Cons of raising Mangalitsas hogs
There are plenty of advantages to owning these pigs, especially for homesteaders. However, there are a couple of disadvantages to take note of, as well.
One of the most considerable warnings of Mangalitsa pigs is that they will tear your property to shreds. They are well-known for their rooting capabilities, which can quickly destroy a farm if they’re not contained.
Although you won’t want to create a small pen, you’ll at least want to limit their foraging area. It can be beneficial if you need a specific area of your property turned over; otherwise, they can be very destructive.
If you are interested in a pig breed that roots less than Mangalitsas, consider raising Kunekune pigs. They graze but aren’t as apt to root.
Farmers on the hunt for animals that can produce a fast turnaround for meat and by-products won’t like these pigs. They can take years to grow to a size that is beneficial enough to be slaughtered for profit.
Most often, pig owners will find that they have to wait at least 15 months before slaughtering their herd.
They’re not a breed to consider if you’re interested in making a hefty profit in a limited time.
Because they can take 15 months to mature, it also means you’ll have to allocate a lot of time to maintaining your herd. You’ll be able to net the highest profit for fat and meat with the healthiest pigs.
Many farmers will have to spend a substantial amount of time, ensuring they have plenty of foraging opportunities.
Also, you’ll find that you’ll have to invest more money into their well being. For example, you can consider supplementing their grass diet with barley for an extended period.
With that said, you can easily mark up the prices of the by-products due to your time expense.
Challenging to Source
Although Mangalitsas are becoming more popular, they are still a relatively difficult breed to find. This is especially true in North America, as they’re still more popular in Europe.
You’ll not only have to spend a lot of time to find a breeder but one that puts a lot of effort into breeding them. You can also expect to drive a lengthy distance to find a reputable breeder.
How to Prepare Your Homestead for Mangalitsa Pigs
Most farmers with a substantial chunk of land will be able to add these hairy pigs to their farm with little effort. There are a few essential things to make a note of if you want to introduce Mangalitsas.
There is very little need for fencing, especially if you allow your pigs to roam freely. However, to prevent them from tearing up your entire farm, it’s a good idea to put up moderate fencing.
This process allows them to know where they can and cannot go, especially if you opt for electric fencing. Consider predators in your area as well.
The majority of homesteaders don’t worry about bringing their Mangalitsas inside, even during the winter. These Hungarian-born pigs are bred to withstand extreme temperatures, and they love staying outside.
Even in the coldest weather, they are bound to thrive, which is why you won’t need a massive barn for them. You can easily throw a small winter shelter together so that they can hide out if they want to, but it’s not necessary.
Shots and Hormones
One of the most significant reasons why this pig’s meat is so popular is a lack of shots and hormones.
Mangalitsas are exceptionally hardy animals and aren’t susceptible to most ailments. You won’t need to give them hormones or shots, which helps them be as natural as possible.
As they graze, the essential vitamins and minerals come from the ground. The number of antioxidants in their system puts other livestock to shame.
The most important way to prepare for your new pigs is to make sure you find the perfect foraging area. As they work through the natural materials, you can then replant and allow them to tear the ground up again.
Many farmers find that rotating the pigs from one area to another is the best way to keep their diets well-rounded.
Is Raising Mangalitsa Pigs Worth It?
Adding Mangalitsas to your farm could be one of the best investments you could make. With their mild temperament, natural diet, and easy-going nature, they’re a tremendous family-friendly farm animal. Also, as livestock, their meat and lard fat can net you a hefty profit once they reach 15 months old. They are a good return on investment when raised on small farms.