While LJL Ranch was started by Luvern and Jimmie Lou Blair in 1965, farming has…
After fifteen years as yacht captains, Catherine and Rick Topel recognized a shared dream they had in farming, specifically raising Mangalitsa pigs. The Topels began farming in 2017 and today manage Certified Animal Welfare Approved by AGW Mangalitsa pigs on the farm, nestled in the Smoky Mountains in Western North Carolina.
The Mangalista breed is one with a unique history. “Originally, the wooly Mangalitsa pig was bred for it’s succulent meat in a time when survival hinged upon nutrient dense foods,” says Catherine. “It was bred for Austro-Hungarian royalty—and the pig was the darling of the 1800s.” Over time, the breed—known to many as a lard pig—fell out of favor as modern production moved toward leaner breeds. Excellent foragers, the hardy breed is well-suited for pasture-based management, which is one reason the breed’s popularity has increased in recent years.
Pigs at Smoky Mountain Mangalitsa are raised outdoors, on pasture or range, where they are free to root and forage as pigs naturally do. This high-welfare management is a fundamental component of AGW certification and is known to have environmental, nutritional, and culinary benefits. “We take tremendous pride in encouraging the natural behaviors of our animals,” says Catherine. “Rotating them weekly on to fresh grass pastures allows them to run, wallow and forage for roots and worms.” The Topels also work hard to minimize any exposure to toxins. “It’s important that we minimize the animals’ exposure to toxins by choosing quality feed and insuring the water out of our well is pure and clean.”
The Topels pursued AGW certification to verify their high-welfare farming practices and demonstrate their dedication to farming with their animals, the environment and their customers in mind. “We recognize the important service that third-party certifications play in assuring customers that the claims they see on products are true,” says Catherine.
Certified Animal Welfare Approved by AGW pork and lard from Smoky Mountain Mangalitsa are available directly from the farm. Visit smokymangapig.com for more information about ordering online with either on-farm pick up or shipping. Stay in touch with the farm by following them on Facebook and Instagram, and contact Catherine and Rick Topel at email@example.com and (828) 246-7372.