Farmer Saves Entire Pig Species from Brink of Extinction

by Jonathan Howard

Farmers, man. They keep the world fed and moving and occasionally save a valued species of pig from extinction. Well, at least one farmer in Italy is able to claim he helped with that last part.

Francesco Borrello is a farmer that has had a lot of experience with pigs. On the island of Sicily, in southern Italy, the Nero Siciliano or Nebrodi black pig. This pig has a long and even ancient history in the region. It has been a staple but was almost wiped out in the late 1900s. Borrello was part of a group that was able to bring the pig back.

Now the Nebrodi black pig is cared for and being incorporated into farming. While the pig has run wild in the region for hundreds of years. Due to the issues they caused and their relatively small size, they were killed and almost made extinct at one point. However, Borrello saw the potential in this ancient breed.

“The breed lived essentially in the wild, among the forests of the remote Nebrodi mountains in Sicily, as it was considered inferior (too lean) and uneconomical compared to modern pork breeds. It used to be hunted alongside the wild boars which also populate the mountains,” Borrello said about the animals.

Now, Borrello has a large property where the farmer cares for these pigs and produces them for cooking and eating. His farm consists of thousands of acres of wild chestnut trees. The forests are where the pigs thrive, essentially in a free-range, wild situation.

Farmer Details How He Raises Endangered Pigs

It was back about 30 years ago when the farmer decided to get involved with the Nebrodi pigs. Small pigs aren’t exactly a booming market when there are so many large breeds. However, this old and historic breed is important to preserve. The region has had these animals for potentially thousands of years. Borrello is making sure to raise them the best way he can.

Since this breed has largely been wild for its entire existence, it is important to raise them in a way they feel comfortable. That means lots of land and lots of chestnuts. So, of course, that’s what the farmer has done. The pigs live in the forests, for the most part, even the so-called captive ones. Since they don’t do well in a traditional farm setting, Borrello has done the next best thing.

“Only during gestation and the first three months of the lives of the suckling newborns are they and the mother are given shelter and medical attention, before being released into the forests,” his company says. So, that means these are still by all means wild animals. The farmer has done an incredible job bringing this special species back from the brink.