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2019 Camino Guides

Pigs of Spain

Jeff Crawley

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Contemplating yet another "final" camino
Porto to SdC May 2019
#6
Camino(s) past & future
2035 km of the way to Saint James in Galicia done.
#7
Coming back to the topic of the thread, this is a bit of an odd article. The number of pigs - 50 million - refers to slaughtered pigs. Not surprisingly, Denmark counts twice as many pigs as inhabitants, for example. The expansion of the Spanish pig industry is export driven and the criticism is mainly against macrogranjas - huge farms - on an industrial scale, so I guess not the apparently happy black pigs who are feasting on acorns in the open air which we did see, somewhere in Navarra I think although now I'm no longer sure on which side of the national border.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Primitivo June 2013
SJPP - Logroño June 2014
Ingles July2016
#8
Yes in Navarra they release spectacular and clean white pigs into beech tree forests to eat their fruits and of course the famous iberian pigs are also released in Extremadura and Andalucia to eat oak fruits.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Francés from St Jean Pied de Port (2017)
Camino Primitivo (2018)
Camino Portugués (plan 2019)
#11
I don't recall seeing a single pig while on Camino.
The expansion of the Spanish pig industry is export driven and the criticism is mainly against macrogranjas - huge farms - on an industrial scale, so I guess not the apparently happy black pigs who are feasting on acorns in the open air
@Jeff Crawley It's not surprising that you didn't see any pigs, as they are generally kept locked away in concrete buildings. Here's a photo of one on the Camino, between Ponte Campana and Arzúa:

IMG_1470.JPG

I would not have realized there were pigs inside except that I happened to walk past while some of them were being loaded onto a truck to be taken to the slaughterhouse. Their eyes still haunt me.

IMG_1467.JPG

IMG_1466.JPG

@Kathar1na As for the so-called happy pigs who are not imprisoned in these hell holes their whole lives, they still drink just as much water and poop just as much poop as other pigs, so raising them in this way does not avoid the environmental destruction described in the article. And of course, they are still killed in the end, which I'm sure they're not at all "happy" about.
 
Camino(s) past & future
2035 km of the way to Saint James in Galicia done.
#13
@Wendy Werneth, yes, we probably can discuss meat eating vs plant eating but that's a global discussion, not one specific to Spain or the caminos. The article cited in the first message of this thread refers to current changes of the model of raising livestock in certain parts of Spain and the environmental threat is caused by the fact that industrial scale farming of this type produces too much natural fertilizer for the soil to absorb in such huge annual quantities - "pig poop" as such is no danger to the environment.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Francés from St Jean Pied de Port (2017)
Camino Primitivo (2018)
Camino Portugués (plan 2019)
#14
@Wendy Werneth, The article cited in the first message of this thread refers to current changes of the model of raising livestock in certain parts of Spain and the environmental threat is caused by the fact that industrial scale farming of this type produces too much natural fertilizer for the soil to absorb in such huge annual quantities - "pig poop" as such is no danger to the environment.
The article refers simply to the number of pigs being raised; it says nothing about how they are being raised. The environmental problems stem from the fact that people are eating too many pigs, period.

And yes, raising 50 million pigs does require farming on an industrial scale. Raising that many animals on acorns in oak forests would be even more environmentally unsustainable, as the Earth doesn't have nearly enough land for that to be possible.
 
Camino(s) past & future
2035 km of the way to Saint James in Galicia done.
#15
The article refers simply to the number of pigs being raised; it says nothing about how they are being raised. The environmental problems stem from the fact that people are eating too many pigs, period.
I googled a few related articles in Spanish before I commented. I fear this discussion is heading straight for closure of the thread so I'm resolved to bail out now. The thought occurred to me that the root cause may not be too many pigs but just too many people with too much money and convenient access to food ... :cool:
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Francés from St Jean Pied de Port (2017)
Camino Primitivo (2018)
Camino Portugués (plan 2019)
#16
I google a few related articles in Spanish before I commented. I fear this discussion is heading straight for closure of the thread so I'm resolved to bail out now. The thought occurred to me that the root cause may not be too many pigs but just too many people with too much money and convenient access to food ... :cool:
Well, it sounds like we both agree that it's not the pigs' fault! Yes, we humans are responsible for the environmental problems that our eating habits are causing. The good news is, we have the power to change those habits.
 
Camino(s) past & future
2035 km of the way to Saint James in Galicia done.
#17
And I'm back again. My real passion is how news are produced and consumed, especially when it crosses national and language borders. Already earlier today, I came across a few Spanish news articles that commented that the "Anglosaxon media" had discovered the topic of pigs in Spain. And a few minutes ago this was published: http://es.euronews.com/2018/08/20/no-espana-no-tiene-mas-cerdos-que-habitantes. Even if you don't speak Spanish: there are lots of graphics in this article plus there is Google Translate. They refer specifically to the Guardian article linked at the start of this thread. Fun.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Francés from St Jean Pied de Port (2017)
Camino Primitivo (2018)
Camino Portugués (plan 2019)
#18
Interesting article. So it looks like The Guardian made a semantic error, confusing the pig population with the number of pigs killed each year. But the fact remains, as the Euro News article admits, that Spain kills more pigs than any other country in Europe.

To be honest, I'm not interested in laying the blame on any single country, region or continent. We are each responsible for ensuring that we live in a way that's environmentally sustainable.
 

hel&scott

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
2004 St Jean - Santiago, 2008 &18 Seville - Finesterre, 2010 Ferrol - Lisbon, 2012 from Cartehenga.
#19
@Kanga is right, if you want to see the iberico pigs then you need to walk the Vdlp. These are free range black footed porkers. Scott was so impressed with them (more so the jamon) he even manage to break out a smattering of Spanish to talk with local farmers about how they are raised and processed. Fascinating for him, not so much for me (as I am a vegetarian). How he ever managed to convince me to buy a nut farm so he could raise pigs is beyond me, but our own free range pigs are very happy and we've even had a few Spanish and Portuguese farmers come over to check out what the crazy kiwis are doing.
 

KinkyOne

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
I'am not perfect, but I'm always myself!!!
#20
Not all of the patanegras are fed only by acorns. I remember on Camino de Madrid at approx.5kms after Penaflor de Hornija where you enter a small forested area there were a lot of cellophane wraps all around the route and I didn't get it until a bit later I came to a pig farm. See attached photos although I didn't want to take photos of trash so you can't see any cellophane. But at the fence there were even more cellophane wraps and I picked up one to see what's it all about. It was a sandwich wrap, like for those that are sold on petrol stations. I guess the farmer was feeding the patanegras with sandwiches too old to be sold to humans.
 

Attachments

hel&scott

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
2004 St Jean - Santiago, 2008 &18 Seville - Finesterre, 2010 Ferrol - Lisbon, 2012 from Cartehenga.
#21
Not all of the patanegras are fed only by acorns. I remember on Camino de Madrid at approx.5kms after Penaflor de Hornija where you enter a small forested area there were a lot of cellophane wraps all around the route and I didn't get it until a bit later I came to a pig farm. See attached photos although I didn't want to take photos of trash so you can't see any cellophane. But at the fence there were even more cellophane wraps and I picked up one to see what's it all about. It was a sandwich wrap, like for those that are sold on petrol stations. I guess the farmer was feeding the patanegras with sandwiches too old to be sold to humans.
Yes, this is one of the points made in the Guardian article. The farmers we spoke to were pretty hot under the collar over farms who increased their stock numbers and fattening pigs on scraps and pellets rather then acorns. Nut fed pork has a very different fat profile to grain fed pigs. I guess it's a bit like a number of things, when something increases in popularity it's human nature to try and cash in, even if it leads to short cuts and loss of quality.
 

Tincatinker

Moderator
Staff member
Camino(s) past & future
Lots ;0)
#22

Jeff Crawley

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Contemplating yet another "final" camino
Porto to SdC May 2019
#23
@Jeff Crawley It's not surprising that you didn't see any pigs, as they are generally kept locked away in concrete buildings. Here's a photo of one on the Camino, between Ponte Campana and Arzúa:

View attachment 45549

I would not have realized there were pigs inside except that I happened to walk past while some of them were being loaded onto a truck to be taken to the slaughterhouse. Their eyes still haunt me.

View attachment 45550

View attachment 45551

@Kathar1na As for the so-called happy pigs who are not imprisoned in these hell holes their whole lives, they still drink just as much water and poop just as much poop as other pigs, so raising them in this way does not avoid the environmental destruction described in the article. And of course, they are still killed in the end, which I'm sure they're not at all "happy" about.
Yuck! :mad:
 

Jeff Crawley

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Contemplating yet another "final" camino
Porto to SdC May 2019
#24
@Kanga is right, if you want to see the iberico pigs then you need to walk the Vdlp. These are free range black footed porkers. Scott was so impressed with them (more so the jamon) he even manage to break out a smattering of Spanish to talk with local farmers about how they are raised and processed. Fascinating for him, not so much for me (as I am a vegetarian). How he ever managed to convince me to buy a nut farm so he could raise pigs is beyond me, but our own free range pigs are very happy and we've even had a few Spanish and Portuguese farmers come over to check out what the crazy kiwis are doing.
Now that would make a great tee-shirt: I walked the Camino and all I got was pigs and a nut farm
Kudos!
There's a small farm along the coast from me that has Tamworths and Gloucester Old Spots roaming free. Sometimes when passing I stop just to watch the sheer beauty of them.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (2015); Ch. d'Arles: Oloron Ste Marie to Aragones; Frances (2016); V.d.l.P.; Sanabres (2017)
#25
On one day, near the south end of the VdlP, I remember having a serious case of pig envy. This was my hardest day's walk of the whole route: a long day, hot, a climb over a high hill (felt like a mountain to me) with a wind farm up top, and a certain amount of route finding. In the late afternoon, I found myself walking along a road beside a pig farm. Hot and weary, I hid in a ditch for a brief rest from the sun. Suddenly, I heard galloping hooves behind me and looked into the field to see a very large pig tearing across it at full speed to land with a splash in a pond. As I continued to look, another pig, just as huge, followed with a comparable splash. I wished I could follow.
 

Jeff Crawley

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Contemplating yet another "final" camino
Porto to SdC May 2019
#30
You looking good if it was "any decent" Orujo party ;)
It was . . . memorable. The glasses never stopped coming up in honour of Jim's birthday (guy in the denim shirt) who turned out to be a bit of a fibber - it wasn't his birthday but the Portuguese like a get together!

CIMG0059.JPG
 
Camino(s) past & future
I am currently walking the Camino del Norte summer 2018
#31
I really must clean my glasses more often - I first read that as "pigs in Space". Interesting article although, outside of a Jamonaria (have you seen the one in Ponferrada?) I don't recall seeing a single pig while on Camino.
That’s what I kept repeating while walking from Irún to SdC!!! Where are the pigs???? There was every other farm animal pretty much everyday—-but no pigs!!!
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Ingles (2016) Camino Portuguese (2017) Considering Invierno 2019
#35
I really must clean my glasses more often - I first read that as "pigs in Space". Interesting article although, outside of a Jamonaria (have you seen the one in Ponferrada?) I don't recall seeing a single pig while on Camino.
Last year on the Camino Portuguese after I crossed into Spain. I saw a very happy familly of Gloucester old spot pigs inside a large enclosure on the outskirts of a village. Not quite sure why a classic old English breed was doing there? They do make very good ham and bacon though:-} There were some Spanish pilgrims looking at the pigs and I told them their English name. My Spanish is not good enough to translate "old Spot".
 
Camino(s) past & future
Frances planned for October 3-mid November (2018)
#36
@Jeff Crawley It's not surprising that you didn't see any pigs, as they are generally kept locked away in concrete buildings. Here's a photo of one on the Camino, between Ponte Campana and Arzúa:

View attachment 45549

I would not have realized there were pigs inside except that I happened to walk past while some of them were being loaded onto a truck to be taken to the slaughterhouse. Their eyes still haunt me.

View attachment 45550

View attachment 45551

@Kathar1na As for the so-called happy pigs who are not imprisoned in these hell holes their whole lives, they still drink just as much water and poop just as much poop as other pigs, so raising them in this way does not avoid the environmental destruction described in the article. And of course, they are still killed in the end, which I'm sure they're not at all "happy" about.
THANKS so much for this comment. I don't feel so alone now. I'll be sure to check out your post about how to manage as a vegetarian. The pigs know what's about to happen, they scream and they are quite brilliant creatures. I cannot participate in their murder...no matter how "good" bacon or ham tastes.
 
Camino(s) past & future
2035 km of the way to Saint James in Galicia done.
#38
Last year on the Camino Portuguese after I crossed into Spain. I saw a very happy family of Gloucester old spot pigs inside a large enclosure on the outskirts of a village. Not quite sure why a classic old English breed was doing there?
I wouldn't be able to tell a Celtic pig (a breed found in Galicia) or a Basque pig (a breed found in the Basque country) from a Gloucester old spot pig ... all I could say is that they are black and white and different from the pigs I know from back home. And when I saw these totally black pigs in Spain for the first time in an enclosure lying in the mud or sniffing out food I was stunned because I thought they were wild boars. :cool:
 
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Camino(s) past & future
Ingles 2017
#39
If you hike the Ingles in October, the wild pigs will be running through the woods right near you. The hunters are nearby too.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (2015); Ch. d'Arles: Oloron Ste Marie to Aragones; Frances (2016); V.d.l.P.; Sanabres (2017)
#40
On my first camino, at Hospital de la Condesa, shortly after O'Cebreiro, I happened on the aftermath of a boar hunt. Three pickup trucks were parked in front of the local bar, which was packed with hunters celebrating their kills. In the back of each pickup truck was a dog kennel, from which several dogs looked out. On top of each of the kennels were the bodies of two or three dead boars, bleeding down onto the kennels. I did not know what to think (or feel). I am a vegetarian. However, the practice of importing wild boar for farming and recreational boar hunting has resulted in some accidental escapes into my home environment. Here is what the government of my home province has to say about this: https://www1.agric.gov.ab.ca/$department/deptdocs.nsf/all/bus16299 . If wild boar hunting in Spain keeps the population under control and provides desired meat for local hunters, I must regard it as a useful activity within the Spanish context.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Frances planned for October 3-mid November (2018)
#41
On my first camino, at Hospital de la Condesa, shortly after O'Cebreiro, I happened on the aftermath of a boar hunt. Three pickup trucks were parked in front of the local bar, which was packed with hunters celebrating their kills. In the back of each pickup truck was a dog kennel, from which several dogs looked out. On top of each of the kennels were the bodies of two or three dead boars, bleeding down onto the kennels. I did not know what to think (or feel). I am a vegetarian. However, the practice of importing wild boar for farming and recreational boar hunting has resulted in some accidental escapes into my home environment. Here is what the government of my home province has to say about this: https://www1.agric.gov.ab.ca/$department/deptdocs.nsf/all/bus16299 . If wild boar hunting in Spain keeps the population under control and provides desired meat for local hunters, I must regard it as a useful activity within the Spanish context.
I guess, I'm somewhat of a "flexitarian" because hunting and eating killed "wild" game has never conflicted me nearly as much as all that factory farming and suffering.
 

Felice

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
SJPP to Santiago Sept 2014
#42
When I walked in Catalonia, to the monastery of Monserrat, I came across numerous pig farms. I think it was in the area between Figueres and Báscara. The smell and the noise made it quite obvious from a fair distance as what was inside the long low buildings with no windows! Later, somewhere around Roda de Terre, the path went past a slaughter house. There were several large trucks full of (very quiet) pigs. That building was extremely clean, at least on the outside, and no smell. It was next to a big processing factory.

I'd always wondered where all the pigs were farmed.
 
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Camino(s) past & future
Francés
#43
The ibérico de bellota (100% Ibérico pigs that eat acorns during montanera season, Oct-Mar) are only raised in the following Denominations of Origin: Guijuelo, Extremadura, Jabugo/Huelva, and Valle de los Pedroches (Córdoba) ...none of which are along the Camino Francés.

This particular type of jamón Ibérico, with a black seal ...(100% ibérico de bellota) only accounts for 0.5% of all jamón production in Spain. Yes, 1/2 of a percent... which results in 370,000 to 400,000 legs (from ~200,000 pigs, depending on the year’s yield and how many acorns are available) per year.

For comparison, annual US production is ~115 million. China is 446+ million.

All the rest of the “jamón ibérico” in Spain is crossed with Duroc pigs for volume production (because they produce litters 2x the size), and SHOULD carry the other seals, which are white, green, or red.

That said, all of the “jamón ibérico” production only accounts for 7% of Spain’s jamón... the other 93% is all Serrano or jamón curado (cured ham), which is for the most part “intensivo”/factory farmed.

So, when people think that the real deal / 100% ibérico is expensive.... well, that’s because it is very expensive to produce. Between the land required, the labor... and not to mention that it takes at least 4 years for a black label jamón ibérico de bellota to be produced, from raising the pig to fully curing the jamón.

The Dehesa is limited, and therefore so is production. If you do eat meat, and eat jamón— the best thing to do is to support those farmers/producers that are not factory farming, and are committed to producing a traditional, artisanal, 100% ibérico.
 

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