A group of Maine veterans are saving a unique type of pig from extinction and introducing a new delicacy to Maine's restaurants.
These uniquely furry animals are not your typical hogs.
Mangalista pigs are a Hungarian breed of pig with a thick hair. The reason they are so unique is that they are nearly extinct after losing popularity and breeders in the United States.
“They're a very hearty animal. Their durability and ability to free range through the woods and forage to food is a big reason why we've added them to our farm,” said Jerry Ireland, owner of Ireland Hill Farms in Swanville.
Mangalista pigs, a nearly extinct breed of pig, are said to be the Kobe beef of pork. That’s why veteran farmer Jerry Ireland has added six to his farm. In total, there are 50 mangalistas between 10 veteran farms throughout the state.
“This isn't something we're just doing for ourselves. We're actually having a long lasting impact on the future of Maine's agriculture,” said Ireland.
These pigs may be like the black sheep of the group, but thanks to the Farmer Veteran Coalition, they're making a comeback in Maine and may be a normal item on the menu at restaurants throughout the state soon.
“Once people start tasting the meat or seeing these unique pigs, it's going to be incredible for both the veterans who own them and the community,” said Walter Morse, owner of Patriot Ridge Homestead Farm in Jefferson.
One farm does not produce enough mangalista product to give to restaurants, but together, the Farmer Veteran Coalition will produce upscale meat and create demand for these animals.
“Now it's not only making a return but it's we really have some great hope for the future of this product being more than something to come and look at but something that we can find in restaurants near us in a very short time,” said Ireland. – WCSH6
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