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The Mangalitsa

The Mangalitsa (UK: Mangalitza, Hun: Mangalica) – also known as the „curly-haired hog” - is the only autochthonous pig breed of Hungary. The development of this lard-type is associated with Palatine József who, in 1833, paid a visit to the Serbian Lord Milos at his estate in Topcsider, and received 10 fat-type, Sumadia sows and 2 boars of the same kind as a present from the lord, which he then took home to his estate in Kisjenő and crossbred with his szalontai and bakonyi pigs (older breeds of Hungarian pigs that were low in fat.) The crossbreeding attempt was an enormous success and by the 1840's a brand new, Hungarian breed of pig was developed. In those times, most Hungarian landowners bought pedigree series from the aforementioned estate in Kisjenő, and the Mangalitsa soon became the only type of pig bred in the Hungarian countryside. The Mangalitsa is a great source of high-quality meat commodity; because of this, famous stud-farms, like the Mezőhegyesi Állami Ménesbirtok (State Stud-farm of Mezőhegyes, founded in 1865), were able to develop and flourish.

 

 

Mangalitsa pigs in the Open-Air Museum of Szentendre


 

In the 19th century the Mangalitsa became popular as a primary commodity with salami factories and industrial meat plants, both Hungarian and foreign. The swine fever of 1895 attenuated the substance of Mangalitsa pigs considerably; the popularity of the breed, however, failed to decrease. The next great blow was the First World War, after which large territories from Hungary were annexed to create new countries in the peace treaty of Trianon; most of the stock of Mangalitsa pigs was located on the aforementioned territories, and were thus given to the 'newborn' countries. As a result, our own substance of pigs became the competition against the Mangalitsa pigs of the newborn Yugoslavia (now Serbia, Croatia, Macedonia, Slovenia), Chezoslovakia (now the Chez Republic and Slovakia), and that of Romania on the international market. During the years between the two World Wars, despite the spread of Western-European pig breeds in our country, the Mangalitsa remained unrivaled as the number one pig breed in Hungary. However, during the 50's, as the import pork from Eastern-European block increased furthermore, the population of Mangalitsa pigs started plummeting. By the 70's, the Mangalitsa population dropped to an incredible low and was awaiting extinction. To prevent that, however, the breed was declared endangered in 1973, and from 1974 and its propagation was funded by the state. The total number of Mangalitsa pigs in the country was about 200 at the time.

 

 

Juan Vincente Olmos Liorente, a Spanish ham industrialist, became the savior of the breed when he came to Hungary in the spring of 1991, looking for pigs that didn't require any special care but were an excellent source of meat commodity (which he needed for his company that was famous for its high-quality products). Péter Tóth, a Hungarian would-be-agricultural engineer, helped him find just the breed he was looking for. Their cooperation was successful and since then the Mangalitsa population has been experiencing constant growth. By now, thanks to its international success, this autochthonous Hungarian breed is no longer in danger of extinction; it not only serves as the primary commodity for the world-famous Spanish serrano ham, but for the likewise internationally renowned Italian ham as well.

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