Wednesday, December 29, 2010
In the recent New York Times article about Mangalitsa pigs, there's a photo of a Mangalitsa owner, Ernő, wielding a traditional Hungarian pig whip. The pig in the foreground is running away from him.
Note: Ernő wrote me an email explaining he doesn't ever whip the pigs. He uses the whip to make a sound that scares the pigs.
The idea of his farm is to preserve the atmosphere of the early 1900s. On such farms there were "mangalica" pigs, pig whips, etc. You can see more photos of his pigs here.
It is fun to watch pigs. When there's something that bothers them, you can see them suddenly decide, "I'm getting out of here," and then they very purposefully do what they can to get away. The pig in the photo above has that look.
Once the pigs are fleeing, they don't relax until they are out of danger, at which point they go back to being lazy pigs. You can see the final part of this process in the video. Fat pigs (a bit like fat humans) really hate running away, and are looking for an excuse to give up:
When I saw the photo of Ernő with his whip, I knew it was a traditional Hungarian pig whip. Many Americans probably don't know what that whip is. Here's a web page (in Hungarian) with an illustration of a guy wielding one:
The idea isn't that you whip the pigs to make them taste better. You whip them because it is pretty much the only way, when they are run in freedom, to train them to do what you want.
One consequence of people raising pigs on modern farms (as opposed to the traditional free-range way) is that there's less demand for pig whips.
Posted by Heath Putnam at 10:11 PM