If you asked a pig where it would like to live, it would surely say the dehesa. But, what exactly is the dehesa and where can it be found?
The dehesa is a Mediterranean forest ecosystem located in the southwest of the Iberian Peninsula. It is mainly comprised of species like the holm oak, cork oak, gall oak and other herbaceous species like cistus and retama.
Spain is home to nearly half of the world’s oak woodlands. We’re talking about a total of 1,600,000 hectares distributed among Extremadura, Andalusia, Castilla La Mancha and Castilla León.
Badajoz 520,000 hectares
Caceres 420,000 hectares
Cordoba 267,000 hectares
Huelva 211,000 hectares
Ciudad Real 191,000 hectares
Seville 169,000 hectares
Salamanca 133,000 hectares
Toledo 123,000 hectares
With less than 100,000 hectares among Jaen, Granada, Cadiz, Malaga and Avila.
Why is it the perfect place for pigs?
The dehesa is full of acorns, a fruit which is rich in carbohydrates that easily turn into fat. Cork and gall oak trees grow acorns which ripen in the autumn so they can feed Iberian pigs throughout the winter. During the montanera grazing season, the animals first eat the sweet acorns from the oak trees and then follow up with the bitter ones.
While looking for food in these oak woodlands, they develop their limbs while the acorn oil infiltrates the animals’ muscles to form the veins seen in their meat. Their voraciousness leads them to gaining at least four arrobas (46 kg) on acorns in the two to three months they spend in these oak woodlands. They can even eat up to 10 kg on certain days.
The tradition of raising Iberian pigs in our oak woodlands has fostered the conservation of this ecosystem and proper livestock farming practices. The Iberian pig extensive grazing system in the oak woodlands means they can adequately develop physically far from the stress and confines of a stable.
In the end, it’s really thanks to the dehesa that this pork is so good