Alentejano oak groves and acorns
The fattening-up of the pigs called Montanheira is the last part of the life of the black Alentejano pig. The Montanheira is a phase where the pigs live in free nature and find their own food in the cork and holm oak groves.
The acorns from the holm oak groves
The seed of the holm oak is an oval acorn with a sweet taste, containig a lot of oils. It influences the fattening of the pig in a positive way. The acorns mature in autumn.
The acorns from the cork oak forest
The seed from the cork oak is also aprt of the nutrition of the pigs. These acorns also mature in autumn.
The black pigs start their fattening-up phase in the oak groves of the Alentejo at the end of October. With every acorn they eat they gain muscles and fat which are the basis of the good reputation of the alentejano bacon and tasty meat.
The pigs run many kilometers per day and eat everything the oak groves have on offer: acorns, herbs and grass, mushrooms and small animals. The omnivores gain in two or three months an extra 60 to 80 kg on top of their original weight of 80 to 100 kg. At the end of this period it is the content of fatty acids in their meat, especially oleic acids, that make up the quality of their meat and its value for the meat processing industry.
The fat of pigs that have been fed acorns is rich in fatty acids, which is a source of „good cholesterol“, much like salmon, sardines and mackerel.
A hereditary condition of the black pig causes more fat to be integrated into their muscles, a property that has been maintained as there was no cross-breeding with other breeds. This explains the mottling of the meat, its succulence, consistency and its incomparable taste and unique fragrance. The black Alentejano pig is kept in absolute freedom for 18 to 24 months. Two to three hours every day it is looking for acorns and pasture. During the fattening-up phase it eats mainly acorns, eating 7 to 10 kg per day. It puts on a kilogram of weight every day until it weighs about 160 kg. Acorns are rich in oleic acids which give the meat its incomparable taste and unique fragrance.
Feeding on acorns, fresh grass and aromatic herbs is doubtlessly the basis for the production of first class meat, ham and sausages. The Alentejo with its endless oak groves offers unique conditions for raising the black Alentejano pig.