A farmer says an extremely rare pig has successfully been brought back from the brink of extinction.
40-year-old Michelle Burley-Hodge has joined a small group dedicated to saving a rare ‘hardy’ porker breed known as the wooly Mangalitza—that is able to fight off bears.
She said she was inspired to rescue the curly haired pigs after hearing her grandmother’s childhood stories about a now-extinct pig from her village.
And she said the work being done to is having a positive impact—with the pigs slowly recovering from just ten in the UK to around 50.
The mother-of-two from Perranwell in Cornwall is currently one of four farmers in the UK who have made it their mission to rescue the rare pigs.
Mangalitza pigs are huge animals, with long curly hair that originate from Hungary.
“They’re not very sought after pigs,” Michelle said, “because they take longer to rear for meat, but they’re really unique and hardy animals.
“You do get a lot of meat, and a lot of different meat. Their fat is also really good for omega-3, some other farmers render it down for sale. It’s called the golden lard.
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“You can get different varieties too, blondes, redheads, and swallow-bellied versions all have different looks.
“I know that recently the farmers I work with near Yorkshire and Sussex have had new litters, so the breed is definitely improving over time.
“We’re also going to import a whole new strain of Mangalitza pigs from Austria in July, so hopefully that will add some variety and make the breed more viable.
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Michelle was inspired to rescue the breed after hearing her 85-year-old grandmother Sylvia talk about a huge hairy pig that used to walk around her childhood landscape.
While searching for one to purchase for herself, Michelle discovered that the breed of pig, a Lincolnshire curlycoat, has since gone extinct.
A global breed, the Mangalitza pigs have been exported across the world as far afield as Japan and Canada due to how tough they are.
Michelle says that there are even Facebook groups dedicated to the pigs, with owners who share their experiences and how their pigs are faring from across the world.
“One pig in the U.S. was attacked by a bear, which is not something we’re used to here. The pig was fine, and there’s even a video of it fighting off the bear.”
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