23rd April, 2019| Animal Welfare

Each month we run a profile on our high welfare production partners and this month it’s the turn of Good Pig Award 2017 winners Madeo. More from Anna Madeo…

Who are Madeo and what is their history?

Madeo was the brainchild of Ernesto Madeo who, along with his family, started his breeding farming in 1984. Since then we have founded a butchery, the first plant, other breeding farms, the second and the third plants.

Our sites are all located in San Demetrio Corone, on the Jonian Presilane hill in Southern Italy. Following the family tradition all the raw materials are produced internally and controlled, each stage of the process is rigorously controlled and documented. Traceability is the keyword of the supply chain system.

Only by observing the pigs behaviours can we understand what they like and how they stay well, in a comfortable and natural habitat. That’s my passion!

In 2017 we were very proud to receive a Good Pig Award, from Compassion in World Farming, recognising our high welfare standards and working in partnership with Winterbotham Darby. This is only the second Good Pig Award for the whole of Italy, so a great achievement for us.

What products do you produce?

The secret of Madeo’s product quality is the use of healthy raw materials and respecting ancient local traditions. Alongisde the Black Pig, our ingredients are produced exclusively; the red hot peppers (grown in Calabria) and the extra virgin oil. The origin of all raw materials and every stage of the manufacturing process is monitored and documented.

Our products are typical from Calabria PDO – Black pig:

  • Soppressata
  •  Salsicci
  • ‘Nduja
  • Spianata
  • Capocollo
  • Pancetta

‘Nduja in particular is very traditional. It is a spreadable salami gluten and dairy free. The mixture is fed into natural casings, tied by hand and matured for 90 days. For our jars, after maturing, ‘Nduja is pasteurized by adding 20% extra virgin olive oil, which also makes it spreadable and ready for use.

‘Nduja (which gets its name from ‘andouille’ was a French mild sausage of poor meats, imported in the 1800s) was originally a product for the poor – made with pork offal. This is because the best cuts of the pigs were used for the Salsiccia, Soppressata, Capocollo and Pancetta (today the 4 PDO Salami of Calabria).

However, at Madeo we reviewed the original recipe and now produce a high quality, pork meat product which includes our red hot chili grown in Calabria

Which breeds of pig do you specialise and what are their typical environments?

In 1990 Ernesto Madeo began a challenge that has proved successful. He took male and female, Calabrian Black Pig, from the areas of Greek Sila and Aspromonte, to start native breed farms which are most important in Italy.

The area of San Demetrio Corone is full of olive groves, unspoiled vegetation with a cool climate in summer and mild in winter. The climate is unique because the area is in between the Ionian and Tyrrhenian seas. The region provides optimum conditions for the breeding of the native pig, so much so that in this environment it’s found the ideal habitat.

The pigs root peacefully in the wild and semi-wild looking for herbs, roots and olives in addition to seasonal vegetables, corn, barley and field beans produced locally, which are the main diet. The rate of growth and reproduction of pigs is entirely natural and not forced or helped, as it would be in nature.

The diet and the extensive rearing of the pigs are indispensable to ensure the desired nutritional characteristics for the meats and “lardo”. Precisely these qualities make them an ideal element of a balanced diet and a healthy food product
The Black Pig of Calabria can be bred in the wild and semi-wild as their genetics ensure they can handle the low temperatures of the mountain environment and can live outdoors without any respiratory tract problems.

The distinguishing characteristics of the breed are the strong force of the boar (200kg av. weight) and the high maternal instinct of the female (160kg av. weight). Other distinctive features are the black coat with the short and bristly hair.

They look typical of the Mediterranean pig – a straight nasal profile and large drooping ears which cover the eyes.

What has been the greatest welfare achievement for Madeo?

Since the beginning Madeo’s farms followed family traditions; free range pigs staying well, eating seasonal and local raw materials with outdoor bred sows during all stages of the production cycle.

The pigs are free and happy, within the hills of Calabria, under the olives trees, where they have pig houses, for shelter. The farms have low environmental impact. Animal welfare is a concept linked not only to physical health but also to the psychological and the ability of the animals to express their natural behaviours.

Having this recognised with a Good Pig Award, from Compassion in World Farming makes us very proud indeed.

What are conditions like for your pigs, that are different to other Italian pigs?

Our pig’s conditions are different for the other Italians for many reasons:

  • Genetics: we choose a native breed – rustic and suitable to live outdoors
  • Free range /natural environment.
  • Feeds: antibiotic free and GM free with the addition of seasonal vegetables and cereals.
  • No tail docking or teeth clipping
  • Natural growth times: the sows give birth together so they work as a nurse, breast-feeding all the piglets.
  • No artificial insemination and or assisted fertilisation with sows and boars staying together in the “woods of love”

What else should we know about Madeo?

The biogas and solar plants produce 750 Kw of green energy used by all the Madeo sites and the inhabitants of the country San Demetrio Corone. This is a great example of sustainable integration and development of territory.

What is your role within Madeo?

In 2010 I did a degree in Economics and Management and then I immediately started working in the family business. My role is Sales & Marketing Manager which I love as I can talk about our products, our story and our beautiful Calabria.

But importantly, as with all my family and my brothers, I have knowledge of our entire supply chain; from the farm to the finished product. I love nature and animals, so I’m directly involved with my father and the team to manage and improve animal welfare. Only by observing the pigs behaviours can we understand what they like and how they stay well, in a comfortable and natural habitat. That’s my passion!

For more information about Madeo,’nduja or our high welfare schemes, please get in touch.