"Livestock has a fundamental role in the regeneration and construction of soil, for that to happen we have to learn how to lead animals correctly."
Where to buy
Talho das Manas
+351 961 102 201
João Rodrigues, Feitoria
Texto de Tiago Pais
Fotografias de Tiago Pais
If, on the one hand, it is unanimous to recognize the blessed genetics of the Alentejo pigs, which provides them with an extraordinary infiltration of fat and, consequently, an aroma and palate recognizable for miles, on the other hand, it is also recognized that there are still no producers in the region who can take as much advantage of these animals as the Spanish counterparts, and that manages to make the respective meat reach the final consumer without having to go through other stops first. It is no accident, by the way, that more than 90% of the national production of the species crosses the border.
At Herdade de São Luís, where Porcus Natura is based, this paradigm is changing, among others. And it all starts at the pigs' maternity, an innovative system developed by Francisco Alves' father, our host for this visit. In this park full of water, shadows, and small private huts, the breeding sows spend two weeks before giving birth. After giving birth, they spend two months with the babies, before they are transferred to an area of 10 hectares where they must exercise their muscles. “Animals have to walk. Often they just go to the field to finish the breeding and they don't even know how to walk ”, explains Francisco.
The Absoluto brand (absoluto.com.pt), created between doors, transforms these pigs from Herdade de São Luís into different cuts and products: tenderloin, prey, feather, or, among the cured, ham, palette or loin. An offer a little like the Spanish one (and a good one!). “We select only the best pigs”, guarantees Francisco, while inviting us to go on his pickup truck. Minutes later, he starts running at full speed to show us that in the more than 700 hectares of the estate, there is much more than pigs.
"Here we also have Angus and Merina cattle and serpentina goats," says the responsible. This diversity is not as important for the business - the main activity continues to be the breeding of Alentejo pigs - as it is for Herdade's philosophy. “We have an extensive regenerative management system,” says Francisco proudly. And what does that mean? They use all species for the sake of soil productivity so that it not only has quality pasture but is also a great carbon killer and thus balances the emissions caused by animals. This is done by promoting the rotation of the spaces covered by the animals daily and, simply, “letting them work”. That said, it seems easy. But it is not: it requires knowledge and the will to do differently. Fortunately, Francisco Francisco does not seem to be missing any of it.