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The Mangalitsa Connection

Hungarian – Netherlands – USA
by Wilhelm W. Kohl

It was Austrian exporters who first introduced the Mangalitsa pig to countries outside the former Austro-Hungarian Empire, including the U.K. & the U.S. about 10 years ago. Although original populations of pigs exist in basically all the Panonian Basin countries, including remnant populations of the famous “Black Mangalitsa” in Serbia, effective breeding of the species has only been done in Hungary for the last 2 decades.

It was impossible to legally acquire Mangalitsa breeding stock from Hungary until 2014, when we finally reached an agreement between Pure Mangalitsa LLC & MOE, the Hungarian National Association of Mangalitsa Breeders, to that effect. But importing live pigs directly from Hungary to the U.S. is still impossible due to the lack of a formal protocol between the USDA and the Hungarian Health Authorities.

Fortunately, Hungary is now part of the European Union (E.U.) and many Western European countries do have established protocols.

Thanks to social media, and Facebook in particular, I got to meet Barbara.

Barbara Meyer zu Altenschildesche is absolutely unique and amazing when it comes to working with the “Royal Mangalitsas”, as she likes to call them. Born to landed gentry in Germany and trained as a graphic designer in Cologne, she was given an abandoned wild piglet in April 2009. Her son Niels had found it in the garden of their country home in Leuvenum, a beautiful rural area of Holland. She immediately fell in love with the piglet and decided to raise it by hand. Eventually the little piglet, named Anne, became a completely tame wild pig, and Barbara decided to look for some companions for Anne. While a completely tame wild pig is quite rare in itself, and despite Barbara’s complete lack of farming experience, she was able to locate some pure-breed red Mangalitsa pigs in Austria, which she imported and raised on a small parcel of open land near her home in 2011.

But once the red haired Mangalitsas arrived, they became Barbara’s passion.

Her boar, who she named Igor, and her two sows, Yana and Ilona, quickly produced many beautiful red piglets. Their happy Manga-family quickly became the best-cared-for and most-photographed pigs in the world.

Barbara, also a dedicated student of German mythology, was of course quite familiar with the mystical Freya, the German goddess of fertility, frequently depicted with her constant companion Hildisvini, a Golden Boar. So Igor quickly became Barbara’s Hildisvini, just like in the ancient saga. He and the others in her care are some of luckiest pigs alive.

Barbara cares for her animals like nobody else in the pig business; not only has she raised all her piglets to be hand tame, she spends endless hours every day learning every detail of their behavior in free-range conditions.

Barbara loves to model for pictures with her “Royal Reds,” sometimes in costume. These photos show nature in unparalleled harmony between humans and animals. She is also at the forefront of promoting socially responsible animal husbandry. Reintroducing species-appropriate production of the world’s most popular food animal to a wider consumer audience has become one of Barbara’s major goals in life.

Promoting the Mangalitsa pigs themselves, for certain some of the best tasting pork in the world, certainly goes along with that goal. And after meeting Barbara in person on a trip to Austria and Hungary in January 2014, I did not have to ask her twice about cooperating with us to establish a truly diversified and sustainable population in North America.

For more details you can read all about the events that followed on her “Mangalitza Breed” and “Mangalitza Breed Page” Facebook pages.

Enjoy the pictures and enjoy the great dishes that this Trans-European connection was able to provide.