Hiking enthusiasts will have already noticed 11 piglets lazing about and scampering around the forest and pastures on the right of the dirt road to the river, between the planes of Montagliari. Today we chatted about them to our farm manager, Tobia.
PIGS ARE A NEW CONCEPT AT VIGNAMAGGIO. TELL US ABOUT THE PROJECT
The introduction of farm diversification, like the addition of orchards and small scale organic animal rearing, is an integral part of Vignamaggio’s vision. From the outset, the idea was to move beyond the olive grove/vineyard duo and adopt an avant-garde approach to the ancient and traditional Tuscan farm concept, always respecting and being guided by the rhythms and schedules of nature. The 11 piglets have 1 hectare each, there is mud for them to bathe in and they sleep in the pen or in the forest.
WHAT DO YOU MEAN BY A SEMI FREE-RANGE SYSTEM?
This means that, as they would in the wild, the pigs roam freely within a large area; but these piglets are semi free-range because they are not completely autonomous when it comes to their diet.
Their free-range diet is supplemented with a daily ration, which never exceeds 2% of their weight, of organic barley and fava beans cultivated on our land.
Obviously, a pig’s diet consists primarily of what it forages in the forest. In Autumn this would be acorns from the Turkey, Downy or Holm Oaks, worms and mushrooms. In the fields they find medicinal herbs, fodder, grain, wild barley, wheat and insects. Sometimes a kind passer-by will leave them some apples or other fruit.
WHY DID YOU DECIDE ON THIS SYSTEM OF ANIMAL RAISING?
The semi free-range system works well with pigs because they are naturally self-sufficient animals, they can take care of themselves and love foraging in forests and fields.
YOU HAVE CREATED PROPER MUD BATHS NEXT TO THE PENS. Why?
We built two mud baths, because pigs love wallowing in mud. They don’t only do it for fun though. They cover themselves in mud because it actually keeps them clean. They dry off in the sun and then to clean off the dry mud, the pigs rub themselves up against tree trunks and this removes dead skin and parasites.
In the pen they have a sleeping area, covered in straw, where they can keep warm during the winter.
HAVE THEY BEGUN TO EXPLORE THE FOREST?
At the start they were apprehensive. They were 6 months old when they arrived at Vignamaggio 3 weeks ago and they had never been out in the open. Now they are used to it and have begun to venture into the forest, feeding themselves with what they find; moss, berries etc.
At the moment they are very tame little piglets, especially the female. We love to see people from Greve bringing their children to see them. Both young and old seem to be fascinated with these animals because it’s been a long time since we’ve seen pigs around here.