A Pig in Curls: The Mangalitsa

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    Pigs come in many shapes, sizes, and colors. From teeny tiny teacup pigs to massive monster pigs, to say there is variation amongst the species is to hit the nail on the head. Pigs come in different colors as well, and some of them even sport different hair styles, at least as where the Mangalitsa is concerned.

    Photo: Note Passer

    At first glance, a Mangalista may look like a standard pig from afar, but when you take a closer look, something unsual will reveal itself, that being a curly coat. Much like the now extinct Lincolnshire Curly Coat of England, the Mangalitsa grows a long, curly coat reminiscent of that of a sheep. This coat exists in several colors and can range in texture from waves to tight curls.

    Photo: Note Passer

    The origin of the Mangalitsa dates back to the year 1833 where it came to be when crossbreeding between Hungarian pigs took place. The result of this crossbreeding was the curly haired pig, a fast growing, easy to care for hog that surged in popularity from the late 1920's through the 1950's. After this time period there was a decline in the number of Mangalitsas around the globe, but in recent years there has been a resurgence in popularity of the breed, resulting in new breeding efforts and pigs being imported in different countries around the globe.

    Blonde Mangalitsa Photo: Food Channel

    Much of the seeming reason for the decline of Mangalitsa pigs was due to the meat they produce. They tend to produce little lean meat and as a result are classified as a lard-type breed. Despite the term used to describe them, they actually possess more unsaturated fat that standard meat-type pigs. This variation in fat type makes for marbled mead that is extremely tender and juicy. Meat from these pigs is typically used in sausage, ham, salami, and charcuterie and has come to be highly valued in the gourmet cooking community.

    Red Mangalitsa Photo: Wooly Pigs

    Swallow-bellied Mangalitsa Photo: Bitts and Bytes

    There are three breeds of Mangalitsa remaining at this time, those being the Red, Blonde, and Swallow-bellied (there once was a Black but it has gone extinct). Amongst these breeds, the only real difference is in color as their behavioral tendencies and temperament are very similar. The Red Mangalista appears red in color while the Blonde appears blonde, but the Swallow-bellied is a two-tone pig with a blonde underside and black body. Piglets are striped like wild boars at birth but in time go on to take on one of the three color patterns mentioned above.

    Photo: Wooly Pigs

    If you live in the United States and wish to acquire a Mangalitsa, there are options for purchasing pigs of this breed. The breed may be rare, yet it is making a comeback. The lack of interest in lard may have set the Mangalitsa back in popularity, but they are climbing back up towards the top. With colorful, curly hair, they are hard not to love, so tell us: is there one already present or coming soon to your farm?

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