The effects of the drought in Spain reach the Extremaduran pasture, putting at risk what was once an acorn berjel for pigs and, as a consequence, the production of Iberian ham.
The high temperatures and the scarcity of water resources have caused the production of acorns to decrease between 20 and 25%, which has caused the animals to take longer to reach their ideal weight and farmers to delay slaughter.
This is how Rodrigo Cárdeno Sánchez, owner of this farm in Badajoz, explains it: “Obviously, the production of grass and acorns has been much less this year. We are talking about an animal that should enter in October with 90 kilos and leave in January with approximately 150 kilos.” kg, 140 kg”.
According to the forecast of the Interprofessional Association of the Iberian Pig (ASICI), in this montanera (which is the last phase of Iberian pig breeding and consists of letting the pig graze in the pasture, where the traditional fattening takes place, between forests of cork oaks and holm oaks) 2022-23 between 15% and 20% fewer acorn-fed pigs will be slaughtered compared to the previous 2021-22 season.
This is equivalent to about 150,000 fewer animals, so within 4 years there may be less and more expensive ham.
Emilio Muñoz, manager of Ilunion Ibéricos de Azuaga, describes the situation as a disaster: “Between 2,000 and 3,000 pigs. We have reduced between 15% and 20% of what we had planned. Expenses have reached the same level as income and it’s a disaster”.
To alleviate this problem, some farmers have had to increase the number of hectares or reduce the number of pigs. Both options represent a significant loss of profitability, which is already being diminished by the increase in production costs.
Climate change not only affects slaughter, but also the sale of breeding females and growing pigs. In addition, according to the experts, it will not be easy to recover the previous figures given the long and expensive life cycle of the Iberian pig, especially in a context of higher feed prices that began with the pandemic and skyrocketed with the war in Ukraine.
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