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Can Jamon Iberico de Belotta be Reproduced with Any Mast Crops Other than Acorns?

 
George Collins
Posts: 88
Location: South Central Mississippi
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In reading the book Pig Perfect, the author, Peter Kaminsky concluded (if memory serves) that based on his experience, anyone with access to an oak park and a breed of hog other than that used by the big factory farming operations should be able to reproduce the raw material that forms the basis for Jamon Iberico de Belotta.

I would like to try to reproduce Jamon Iberico de Belotta.

Towards that end, I have a single uncastrated male* that is being kept under the approximate drip lines of four live oaks. However, those four live oaks will be unlikely to drop sufficient acorns to take him from his approximate current weight of 175 lbs to the desired weight of 275+. On our farm, we have many mast producing trees, most of which would be impractical to fence in for the sole purpose of fattening this one hog. The alternative of gathering a sufficient number of water oak, live oak or red oak acorns (i.e. those with the high tannin content which I think is preferred for this type of operation) to sufficiently supplement what falls naturally, would be labor intensive in the extreme.

The larger acorns (those of the white oak family) of which I have offered him many, lie uneaten on the ground. (The picky bastard! One lesson learned from The One Pig is that just because a hog CAN eat anything don't mean they WILL eat anything.)

However, there is one large nut that The One Pig goes nuts over: PECANS! He loves em. Can't fill the fool up on em. And what's even better, they are huge thus easily gathered and we have an abandoned pecan orchard of 50+ trees which could potentially serve to take The One Pig from his present anemic 175ish lbs to a respectable 275 lbs of deliciousness.

I said all of the above to ask this - can Jamon Iberico de Belotta be reproduced with any mast crop(s) other than, or in supplement to, acorns?

Specially for the case instant, can it be reproduced with pecans?

We also have quite a few hickories. What about hickory nuts?

What about monkey puzzle nuts?

Are there any other mast crops that could be used to reproduce Jamon Iberico de Belotta?



As an aside, I recently had the opportunity to experience Jamon Iberico de Belotta at The Iberian Pig Restaurant in Decatur, GA. My opinion: Jamon Iberico de Belotta really is that good.

If you ever visit The Iberian Pig and take your wife and six kids like I did, it will be the best $300 you are likely to ever spend. Word to the wise - when they bring you the platter of Jamon Iberico de Belotta, don't close your eyes while you savor the moment as the fat melts and coats your tongue with the most amazing cascade of wonderful that a human being is capable of experiencing. For if you do, you might open them to find what I did - six hungry kids wolfing down your $2.00/bite ham as if they were scarfing down Hardee's Hamburgers after an eight-hour canoe trip.

My heart sank.



*(per Walter Jeffries to whom I would like to say, "Thank you sir for relieving me of that most unpleasant task.")
 
Aaron Fuchs
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George,

This is a long debated topic, and you will never have people on both sides agree on a single answer. My belief that, as someone who has quite a bit of experience with Iberico de Bellota products for some time now, the short answer is no. I found your post through a google search for Iberico de bellota since I like to keep up with the most recent happenings regarding this breed. Heres is more info on my answer:

Iberico is the breed of pig that is indigenous to the Iberian peninsula, and not found outside of Spain or Portugal. Iberico de bellota are iberico pigs that are finished on indigenous acorns (Bellota is Spanish for acorns) that fall during the autumn in specific areas of Spain (I will only speak of Spain from this point forward). The trees are only found in Spain, in areas that are known as "dehesas". "Indigenous" is the key word here. You have a breed that is only found in Spain that is finished on bellota coming from native oak trees (Encina) found nowhere else.

You can try to recreate with different breeds of pigs, but there is some agreement that these pigs have developed their unique way of building intramuscular fat like no other breed. The color of the raw pork is red and marbled like prime beef. The other food it eats is what it finds growing in the government protected lands, iberico de bellota graded pigs are not fed supplemental feed, they eat only what they find. They have very little contact with humans for the majority of their lives. The age of the pigs at slaughter is 18 months, and the average weight is 200KGS (thats 440LBS!). I've seen bigger and smaller while on tour of a slaughter facility in Spain.

The argument that you cannot recreate the original is kind of like how Champagne cannot come from any other region that Champagne, France, and the same for Dijon Mustard. Iberico pigs have been doing this for hundreds, if not thousands of years. They are not force fed the acorns, and are considered almost wild pigs by most definitions.

The one thing I've learned over the years, is that great things are still out there to be discovered. Keep up with your experiment, theres probably some great benefits to your pig eating the pecans, especially if they are from an abandoned yard means that there is chance that they are growing without any artificial fertilizers or pesticides, meaning a better product in the end. Good luck!
 
Walter Jeffries
Posts: 1085
Location: Mountains of Vermont, USDA Zone 3
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We have been breeding our own line of pigs for years. Over the years we have had the chance to do some interesting taste tests be comparing our genetics on our feed vs our genetics on other feeds vs other genetics on other feeds v other genetics on our feeds. A nice four way matrix which statisticians love. Some simplified conclusions:

1) Feed definitely influences what a pig tastes like.

2) It takes months for the flavor of a pig to change, not the two weeks to a month that I had read years ago.

3) Genetics is just as important as feed to getting good flavor and texture.

4) The best flavor and texture comes from the combination of both good genetics, good feed and low stress handling with humane slaughter.

Cheers,

-Walter Jeffries
Sugar Mountain Farm
Pastured Pigs, Sheep & Kids
in the mountains of Vermont
http://SugarMtnFarm.com/
 
Ivan Weiss
Posts: 172
Location: Vashon WA, near Seattle and Tacoma
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My new crop of 15 pigs are getting all the apples they can handle, with no end in sight all through the winter, so come April my customers should be getting some pretty sweet pork. It won't be Jamon Iberico de Belotta, but it should be pretty tasty. One thing experience has taught me is that pigs will eat all the green vegetables you give them, especially the leafy greens, and they will leave whatever else they are eating, even grain-based feed sometimes, to attack the fresh greens. And tomatoes! They are nuts for tomatoes!

My buddy and I are promised access to whey from a Seattle cheese factory in 275-gallon tote quantities, twice a week each if we can handle it, starting in November. I am feeding one steer for beef, so he'll get some of it. Between the whey, the bread I'm getting from two food banks, the barley from a local "nanobrewery," all the okara I can handle from the tofu factory, and the supermarket produce, the one ton of 18% hog starter that I did spring for ought to be all the purchased feed I need. I probably will get them a couple bales of alfalfa, though.

I'm excited about the whey. It's so versatile, and it appears that there are no end of "wheys" it can fit into a permaculture design.
 
Walter Jeffries
Posts: 1085
Location: Mountains of Vermont, USDA Zone 3
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Both apple pomace and whey are excellent feeds for pigs. The source of whey may also have product such as butter or cheese that they need to dispose of. If the pH, humidity, temperature, etc are off or if it is simply dated they can't sell it. Yet it is still excellent food for pigs. Let them know you're available. We just got 10,000 lbs of very fine butter in 30 lb blocks because it had a humidity (water content) that was just a bit too high. Do not feed butter too fast or the pigs will turn inside out.

See:

http://www.google.com/search?q=site:sugarmtnfarm.com+feeding%20butter

Peanut butter is another excellent source of energy and protein.
 
laura sharpe
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I love your ideas about pig feeds. Could you post about how these feed worked

Oh I was reading a sight about heritage pigs, some have more marbled meat than others, perhaps you could get one of those.
 
Walter Jeffries
Posts: 1085
Location: Mountains of Vermont, USDA Zone 3
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laura sharpe wrote:I love your ideas about pig feeds. Could you post about how these feed worked


See:

http://SugarMtnFarm.com/pigs

and

http://sugarmtnfarm.com/tag/feeding/

laura sharpe wrote:Oh I was reading a sight about heritage pigs, some have more marbled meat than others, perhaps you could get one of those.


The Berkshire are renowned for their marbling. We have some Berkshire in our herds's genetics and this past year we added another Berkshire boar to inject more. It will be a while before we seed the results of that. You can see a photo of the new boar Spitz here:

http://SugarMtnFarm.com/2012/12/09/pork-goodies-in-the-freezer/

Selecting for taste is a long term project.
 
Ben Walter
Posts: 92
Location: Deland, FL
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I've got some pigs under a bunch of pecan trees, unfortunately it's an off year and there are barely any nuts. I had planted a bunch of sweet potatoes between the pecans which they love...their other main feed is spent brewing grains. They are getting lots of garden waste and some corn from an experimental plot I grew this summer. I hope they taste great!
 
George Collins
Posts: 88
Location: South Central Mississippi
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Allow me to refocus the issue:

There is a very specific set of factors that go into producing Jamon Iberico de Belotta. Some of those factors are semantic or legal in nature. Forget those. Instead, imagine the le dehesa where some miscreant chopped down all of the oak trees for a hundred square miles, planted pecans and just as those pecan trees reached peak production, said miscreant walked out in front of a train and became bug splat. The will is read and said miscreant has willed his 100 square mile pecan orchard to the local, Spanish pig farmers.

If the local Spanish pig farmers subsequently ran 2-year old Iberico pigs exclusively under these pecan trees, slaughtered them at an average weight of 350 lbs, covered the hams in sea salt one day per Kilo, and afterwards air dried them for 2+ years, even if the end result could not legally be called Jamon Iberico de Belotta, would the taste, texture, color, etc be consistent with other Iberico pigs that had been fed a diet of pure "acorns, grass (and the occassional snake)?

Stated more succinctly, if a hog is raised, slaughtered and cured in a manner entirely consistent with what would result in Jamon Iberico de Belotta but for subtracting acorns and adding in pecans, would the end result have a taste consistent with Jamon Inerico de Belotta?

We can call it Jamon Iberico de Pecanolatta.
 
Gaston Guibert
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I've been obsessing over this very topic lately, happy to find an old discussion on it.

"… if a hog is raised, slaughtered and cured in a manner entirely consistent with what would result in Jamon Iberico de Belotta but for subtracting acorns and adding in pecans, would the end result have a taste consistent with Jamon Inerico de Belotta?"


George-

Generally consistent in taste, perhaps, but I don't think the exact flavor of jamon iberico de belotta could be reproduced outside of Spain. The "problem" wouldn't so much be the feed difference (pecans vs. native spanish acorns) in my opinion, but the whole environment they live in. You could control for as many variables as possible, breed, salting, aging, humidity, air temp., feed, etc., but ultimately I think some foods are really a product of the local land. This is true of many cheeses, wild plants, etc., and I think it's true of some traditional cured meats as well. There are just too many variables to control for outside of a laboratory, and when people have been creating a product for many hundreds of years in a particular place, there can be no true recreation of that product elsewhere.

Now, I don't really see this as a problem. If you take the general process of making great jamon iberico in the traditional way, and apply it to your pecan-fed pigs on your land, you will probably wind up with a fabulous piece of cured pig ass. The pecans will be fattier than spanish acorns, the pigs will dig up your local root vegetables instead of mediterranean varieties, breathe the air in your neck of the woods instead of spanish sea breezes, they'll even eat your soil to a certain degree… and of course there's the aging, which as much as we'd like to believe is merely a product of humidity and temperature, is influenced by more subtle environmental factors than we could possibly surmise. In short, your jamon will reflect your terroir, and may well taste better to you than jamon iberico de belotta. Even though I think recreating the precise flavors/textures etc. of a product such as jamon iberico is impossible, doesn't mean I don't think it's worthwhile to pay great attention to the other culture's methods of production. Their tricks of the trade have everything to do with the fantastic final product, and many of them may apply to your situation. But you also might find after years of aging hams that you're better off changing the recipe so to speak, perhaps that will mean more/less salt in the initial drying, different curing temperatures/humidity, different slaughtering time even, who knows what your environment will demand.

A somewhat relevant side story:
Last summer I lived in a small valley in northern Italy, close to the alps. The area is noted for it's salame, which has been produced in a certain way for countless generations. I worked on a small organic farm where they raised a small number of hogs primarily for salame production, and helped take care of the animals for a month before slaughtering day. They were fed a basic grain/corn feed each morning, and turned out into the local woods during the day to forage for nuts, roots, bugs, etc. We took them to the local slaughterhouse, where a few dozen pigs from another local farm were being slaughtered the same day. The pigs from the other farm were raised on commercial feed, and didn't get to exercise outside in the woods. The difference in the meat, visually, was incredible. Our pigs bore dark red flesh, almost the color of a ripe tomato. The other pigs muscles were a pale pink. The next day, both batches of pork were ground, mixed with the time tested mix of herbs, spices and wine, and cased for hanging. I got to sample both batches of meat (raw pork, a first but how could I say no with these haggard old italian butchers insisting and eating next to me) after being mixed with the spices. etc, and the difference in flavor was tremendous. These were pigs of the same breed, raised in the same valley, processed into salami and aged at the exact same facility. The only difference was that one group got to forage in the woods every day, while the other stayed in their pens.

This doesn't even scratch the surface of differences in cured meats. Salame made the next valley over from pigs foraging in their local woods tasted very, very different from ours. Even under very, very similar conditions, I think your hams will come out more distinct from jamon iberico than one would expect.

Also, what's your plan for curing your jamon? The conservative approach would be to create a sterile environment similar to industrial operations, which I suppose would be necessary if you're producing for sale. Personally, I would prefer to build a root cellar with earthen plastered walls and/or local rock, especially for pork curing. Many italian salumi are still aged in ancient caves, where they take on the local flavors. I've seen this in sardinia, where mountain people still live like their great-great grandparents did. Incredible cured pork products and cheeses there. If you're lucky, the bacteria and fungi (particularly mold) inhabiting your local soil would be beneficial to aging pork. If not, you could identify some other strains of mold used in pork curing which survive well in your temperature/humidity situation and inoculate your aging cellar with said mold.

Best of luck with your project! I've salivated over the thought of American, pecan-fed, cured pork before and am delighted to read about someone in the process of creating it. With your knowledge of the jamon iberico raising/curing process and your land assets, it sounds like you're well on your way to creating a classic american cured meat.
 
George Collins
Posts: 88
Location: South Central Mississippi
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Gaston, thank you for that thoughtful and informative post. I think you have answered the question well.

As for my plan for curing the ham, with the pig we home processed this past December, I used a few different methods. As this was the first go at home curing meats, I wanted to get as much experience under my belt as possible. Towards that end:
- The bacons were cured using Morton's Tender Quick - Result: Perfect
- The Loins were cured using Morton's Tender Quick and smoked using hickory and sassafras - Result: Amazing
- Shoulder #1 - Cured using sea salt only and smoked with hickory and sassafras - Result - OK
- Shoulder #2 - Cured using 2 parts sea salt and 1 part brown sugar and smoked using hickory and sassafras - Result: Didn't care for it
- Ham #1 - Cured using 2 parts sea salt and 1 part brown sugar and left unsmoked and is currently being aged for 1 year
- Ham #2 - Cured using straight sea salt, left unsmoked and is being aged for 1 year

That said, I did keep a little of the meat back to eat fresh just to get a sample. The results of that were simply amazing.

The boston butt that I smoked was probably the best piece of meat that ever slid down my gullet besides the Jamon Iberico de Belotta I had in GA last year.
The one pork chop I grilled was at least as good as any grilled steak I've ever eaten (and we raise our own Herefords).
The sausage that we made was the best sausage I've ever eaten.

The only thing that I tried that I didn't care for was ground pork but that was a texture thing more than a taste thing. Ground beef, in my opinion, makes a far better hamburger than ground pork.

And then there were the ribs. (I just drooled thinking about them.) Kinda embarrassing actually. I invited a neighbor family over to share them. Unbeknownst to me, the father had spent ten years perfecting his ability to smoke a rib. Then, in front of him, the rest of his family told me, in unison, that my ribs were WAY YONDER better than his ribs.

Awkward.

I said all that I guess to say this - I don't yet have a plan for how I intend to go from pig to cured pork. The original post in this thread was a gross over-simplification of what I'm actually doing. What I was after was a principled answer. You provided that.

The actual plan, in its current manifestation and with the understanding that the plan is subject to change as understanding develops, is to:
- Breed sows long about January
- Farrow in April,
- Wean in June
- Place pigs to be fattened into a ten acre pasture that has been planted over the past two years with about 75 fruit trees and 75 mast producing trees.

The trees chosen were chosen for disease resistance, productivity, predictability, palatability to a hog and their drop dates. For instance, in July, while the pigs are still relatively small, I have several fig trees planted which drop their fruit in July. In August, when the pigs are a bit bigger, saw tooth oaks and pears will be dropping so there are more of them than there are figs. The trees that occur in the greatest frequency are those that have the latest drop times. In this part of the world, that happens to be pecans and live oaks which drop well into the December/January window which is prime hog killin time. Thankfully, also in this pasture are many mature, mast producing trees. What that means is that the only thing holding me back is for the newly planted trees to reach sufficient size to withstand the pressure of a bunch of hogs.

The ultimate goal is to one day raise pigs from farrow to finish that have never known the taste of a grain of corn. Any store bought feed that I have to rely upon will hopefully be used only to keep the breeding stock alive during the winter. Even then, I'm actively experimenting with different crops to mitigate against the use of off farm inputs to the greatest degree possible. For instance, this past spring, I started planting a ~4 acre field in a pure stand of sawtooth oaks to be harvested and stored much as one would a corn crop. These acorns will be used to supplement the acorn crop in the 10 acre pasture if needed. If not, they will be used to over-winter the breeding stock. Under trial also for supplemental fodder is blue Hubbard squash and millet. The blue Hubbard is supposed store well for up to 6 months and be one of the more palatable varieties in the squash family.

Between now and the time the trees enter production, I will continue to refine my ability to cure pork.

Maybe it'll all work out.
 
David Miller
Posts: 280
Location: Harrisonburg, VA
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May I recommend adding mulberry for leaf forage, high protein, on farm feed. I've read some very good studies on livestock fodder using coppicing of mulberries successfully. I'll look back to find them if you're interested.
 
Walter Jeffries
Posts: 1085
Location: Mountains of Vermont, USDA Zone 3
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We raise pigs without commercial hog feed corn/soy grains. It is very doable and it does improve flavor. In addition to feed choices there is also genetics and exercise / not being in a pen.

Pasture is the vast majority of what our pigs eat followed by whey which provides lysine, an amino acid, and a little calories. Pasture quality matters a lot in making a good pig diet. I've raised some pigs purely on pasture. Planting legumes and other things improves the protein and digestibility. In the winter we replace the pasture with hay.

Genetics makes a big difference. We've been selectively breeding our pigs for a decade to produce a pig that has the traits we want, that thrives in our climate on our managed rotational grazing system.

I have tasted pigs that were of other genetics (we bought a group (2 genomes) in one winter that needed 'rescue' when a farmer closed) which were then raised on our system - they are not as good tasting so genetics makes some difference in taste.

Those same pig groups before they were on our pastures tasted worse - Thus the system is making some difference, being on our pastures and whey improved them even with the difference in genetics.

I have tasted pigs from our genetics (we sell feeder weaners) that people bought and raised in pens on grain. They also were not as good as ours so again the system is making a difference. But they were better tasting than the above mentioned other genetics.

I've also tasted pigs from our genetics that were raised on grain on pasture. Better than the above penned of our genetics but not as good as fully on our system. This indicates getting out and getting exercise makes a difference.

I've tasted pigs from our genetics raised by other people much the way we raise ours and those taste about like ours - excellent. This suggests that duplicating the genetics, feed and management does work even at other locations. Thus you can do what was originally asked.

This gives a multi-matrix which shows that the best flavor is a combination of genetics, feed and management. Thus why we do it the way we do it.

We farrow and raise pigs year round selling pork weekly. Winter is far, far harder, especially for farrowing, than the golden months of May through October. November and April are iffy in our location here in the mountains of northern Vermont. I would suggest avoiding winter farrowing if you're in a cold climate. We do year round because we have weekly customers.

Cheers,

-Walter Jeffries
Sugar Mountain Farm
Pastured Pigs, Sheep & Kids
in the mountains of Vermont
http://SugarMtnFarm.com/
 
George Collins
Posts: 88
Location: South Central Mississippi
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David, I would gladly look at what you have on mulberries. FYI, there are a few mulberries scattered about our pasture. Mulberries were chosen because where we reside (South Central Mississippi), Mulberries have the earliest drop of all the tree crops. The ones we currently have are native/volunteers. That said, I intended to plant an improved variety or two this past winter but I ran out of cold weather before I ran out of room to plant. More mulberries are on the very short list for next year.

Walter, currently I have two just-bred gilts and a boar all of which are soon to be registered Berkshires. If I can move the production of these two sows fairly easily, I hope to add a mulefoot sow next.

I've fed a lot of stuff to a hog but never hay. However, my father raises Hereford cattle and usually produces substantially more hay than he feeds to his cattle. Need there be any difference between hay produced for cattle and that fed to hogs?

By way of interesting feed stuff people raise hogs on, back about 60 years ago, my grandfather had a net in a local creek. They'd go check it every day or two in mule drawn wagons. Inevitably, in addition to whatever fish they had, they'd catch a bunch of "striped head turtles."

A turtle shell might be good protection against some things. But against a hungry, 400-pound sow, all it does is prolong the inevitable.
 
Walter Jeffries
Posts: 1085
Location: Mountains of Vermont, USDA Zone 3
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George Collins wrote:I've fed a lot of stuff to a hog but never hay. However, my father raises Hereford cattle and usually produces substantially more hay than he feeds to his cattle. Need there be any difference between hay produced for cattle and that fed to hogs?


The hay that the pigs like best is leafy rather than stemmy, around 15% to 30% humidity and smells a bit sweet and alcoholy. Legumes in the hay is good. Cherry and maple leaves not. We feed around 400 lbs of hay per pig per winter, about 0.8 lbs per hundred weight per pig per day. See:

http://www.google.com/search?q=site:sugarmtnfarm.com+feeding%20hay

David, I would be interesting in reading what you have on the mulberries too.

Cheers,

-Walter
in Vermont
 
Ben Walter
Posts: 92
Location: Deland, FL
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I'm also planting out as many mulberries as I can. I'm propagating from my neighbor's trees and it's slow going. They are a great feed source for about every animal on the farm. I'm rotating cows, sheep and chickens under pecans. I hope to plant out more mulberries, apples, acacias, tagasaste, etc to make them savannah style food forests for rotational grazing.

Here's some pigs feeding on mulberry leaves....

Here's a nutritional analysis of the leaves for black mulberries.
 
David Miller
Posts: 280
Location: Harrisonburg, VA
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This one comes to mind but I have another on feeding rabbits mulberries that was my primary focus. It appears that with ruminants (obviously pigs will need tweaking and further investigation), the benefit peaks around 50% of feed replacement but for me, that's huge! The attached file elaborates

http://www.fao.org/ag/aga/AGAP/frg/Mulberry/Papers/HTML/Mulbwar2.htm
Filename: MulberryLeavesforRabbits.pdf
Description: Mullberry Leaves for Rabbits
File size: 39 Kbytes
[Download MulberryLeavesforRabbits.pdf] Download Attachment
 
David Miller
Posts: 280
Location: Harrisonburg, VA
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"Monogastrics. The silk worm has a relatively simple digestive system, in certain ways it is comparable to that of the monogastric animals, thus, in theory, mulberry leaves could also be used at least as one of the ingredients in monogastric diets. In a trial with growing pigs in which a commercial concentrate was replaced by up to 20% by mulberry leaf (Trigueros and Villalta, 1997), the best level of substitution was 15%. It increased daily gains from 680g/d, with only concentrates, to 740g/d and also gave the best economic results. " From the web link

http://www.fao.org/ag/aga/AGAP/frg/Mulberry/Papers/HTML/Mulbwar2.htm
 
danny dineen
Posts: 14
Location: Lincoln, CA
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I really love this thread and would like to keep it alive with my own experience. Here at Dragon Hour Farm & Ferment we have raised Mangalitsas, American Guinea Hogs, and Berkshires all raised on rotated pasture (thanks in part to the wonderful knowledge on these forums) -- each breed we fed prodigious amounts of acorns to finish in the last 3 months, along with cherries, kale, whey, and spent barley from the local brewery. The pork from the berkshires was good, but the mangalitsas and guinea hogs were the finest I've ever eaten, and have made me an obsessed pig farmer. I am consistently amazed at the differences in genetics of these breeds...especially between the lard pigs vs. the berkshires. The mangalitsas and guinea hogs were far superior in flavor, especially when we cured the meat using traditional charcuterie methods. The fat is really the difference...

I've also eaten Jamon Iberico de Belotta and love it dearly. But personally, I believe that a well-raised Mangalitsa or American Guinea Hog, raised on pasture finished on lots of fruits, nuts, whey, and greens, can be just as good if not superior to Jamon Iberico de Belotta. I'm just a beginner, and wholeheartedly think mine were better than those Ibericos I've eaten. I fully encourage you to keep on with your enthusiasm and your experiment. Greatness need not bound in by mere appellation.

Moving forward, the one thing I will do different is start cross breeding the mangalitsas and guinea hogs with eachother and other heritage breeds. In my experience, the mangalitsas do take significantly longer to get to maturity, about a year and a half, and the guinea hogs are simply less meat -- they are small! But both those breeds have such wonderful fat...and temperments. The berkshires just got to market weight so freaking fast -- 5-6 months! So many possibilities. So much pork to eat!

 
danny dineen
Posts: 14
Location: Lincoln, CA
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And just to add my own +1 to the mulberry discussion...we live in Thermalands, CA, which is outside of Lincoln, CA and very dry and arid. The mulberries love it here! We also have Nubian milk goats, and the mulberry branches are there absolute favorite fodder. As I understand it, the mulberries are nitrogen-fixing, deep rooted, drought resistant, make excellent forage, grow incredibly fast, and make wonderful shade trees. Permaculture at its finest. Go mulberry!
 
George Collins
Posts: 88
Location: South Central Mississippi
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While walking to visit with Linda and Lou, our two sows, I remembered a non-fruiting mulberry along the way. It has several sprouts that have recently emerged from around its base. I broke one off, separated it into two roughly equal portions and called my friend-girls.

They came running up to the edge of the electric fence where they waited impatiently for me to cover that last 4 feet before officially declaring my presence official by drooling.

I faked em out and managed to get the two mulberry limbs onto the ground and they jumped like a bluetick coonhound on a house cat.



Now that I know my cute little pre-momma pigs love an afternoon snack of mulberry salad, short of cutting down a mature tree, how does one go about getting mulberry leaves in quantities sufficient to actually make a difference?

 
David Miller
Posts: 280
Location: Harrisonburg, VA
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Planned coppicing
 
George Collins
Posts: 88
Location: South Central Mississippi
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Planned copicing, got it!

Might there be anyone that can lend a few particulars to this general direction? This sounds like the makings of a really good play but before beginning an attempt to scale up this play by rooting 500 mulberries, a few details would be greatly appreciated.

 
Robin Hones
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I am just loving this thread. Here is my small contribution....

Mulberries are great plants but they are not nitrogen fixers - in fact they need/respond well to pairing with N fixers such as acacias, etc
The FAO paper referenced above has further info.

There is some info about a mixed coppice system using mulberries and N fixers in this link:
http://www.apiosinstitute.org/morus-x-hybrid-mulberry

And also here:
http://permaculturetokyo.blogspot.com/2009/07/species-of-month-morus-alba-white.html

Finally, watch out for the next Dave Jacke book (this one co-authored by Mark Krawczyk) to be called: Coppice Agroforestry: Perennial Silviculture for the 21st Century
Their websiite is at: http://www.coppiceagroforestry.com and they have a specific blog post on mulberries here:
http://www.coppiceagroforestry.com/1/post/2011/09/593-species-and-counting.html
 
Gaston Guibert
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Hey George, how did the hog raising work out this year? Revisiting your last post of the general plan, you should be right around slaughtering time now. How did the various tree crops work out, particularly the pecan and acorn stage? Did you have to supplement their diets much? Any odd problems with the pigs and foraging, like your earlier discovery that they weren't fond of white oak acorns? I hope this project works out for you, I'm many years from being able to attempt something similar, so living vicariously through you is as good as it gets for now.
 
The permaculture playing cards make great stocking stuffers: http://richsoil.com/cards
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