The Making-Of Swabian Hall Pig
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Old breeds of livestock are a cultural achievement, passed on from generation to generation. The Swabian Hall pig breed was as good as extinct when Rudolf Bühler returned to his homeland in the early 1980s. Together with some ambitious farmers he managed to collect the last animals, of which just a hand full remained.
Then a breeders club was founded in 1982 and this old livestock breed would be saved in the last second. However, soon it became clear that the farmers could not be left alone with this old landrace. Nobody wanted to buy their meat anymore.
Inspired by the cooperative approach of rural development models abroad, eight farmers decided to establish an organisation with the aim of giving value to their products. Since 1987/88 the Farmers Producer-Community Swabian Hall (BESH) organises the breeding, slaughtering, marketing and selling of the Swabian Hall Pig.
All (currently around 1.400) farmers associating themselves with BESH have to follow strict production guidelines, which, for example, prohibit any use of medications and growth enhancers. To ensure the fulfilment of the BESH guidelines, controls are carried out by an external entity, the Food-Institute Lacon Offenburg.
To minimise the stress of the animals during transportation, the farmers themselves bring them to the slaughterhouse, which is entirely run by BESH. The final products, the meat- and sausage-specialties, are then either sold directly through BESH shops or delivered in BESH vans to other butchers and delicatessen shops.
Besides guaranteeing the highest product standards, the profits resulting from the sales of the products remain entirely within BESH and its member-farmers.
Although the Swabian Landschwein was and still is considered to be the flagship of BESH, the cooperative has grown to become an umbrella organisation for rural development in the region of Hohenlohe and beyond. On this fertile ground a variety of fair and innovative agricultural projects have emerged, challenging the absurd elements of conventional agriculture.