No swine need apply: Hairy hog on hunt for love

 Ivan Rumley with Sophie the Mangalitsa, a rare woolly pig, at Rumley's Open Farm, Liberty Hill, Waterfall, Co Cork.
Ivan Rumley with Sophie the Mangalitsa, a rare woolly pig, at Rumley's Open Farm, Liberty Hill, Waterfall, Co Cork.

She’s a bit of a pig and her place is a sty — but she’s a one-in-a-million with hair to die for and she’s looking for love.

The man who adopted a rare woolly pig found wandering on a mountain in Carlow says he wants to find her a mate in the hope of breeding little woolly piglets.

“We have tried to find her owner but nobody has come forward,” said Ivan Rumley, who runs Rumley’s Open Farm on the outskirts of Cork City.

“So my plan now is to bring in a mate for her and be one of the first in Ireland to breed Mangalitsas.”

The very rare Mangalitsa pig, believed to be the only one of her kind in Ireland, was found wandering on Mount Leinster just before Christmas by Mr Rumley’s friend, mechanic Jim Baron, and his daughter Sophie.

From a distance, the hairy hog looks like a sheep. But her ears, snout, trotters and audible oink, are unmistakably piggy.

It has led people to call her a shig, or a peep, but Ivan said they have decided to christen her Sophie, after Jim’s daughter.

Mangalitsas were originally bred in Hungary, with three different breeds in existence right up to the 1950s.

One of the breeds is now extinct, and the other two are considered extremely rare.

There are an estimated 7,000 Mangalitsas left in Hungary, and a few farms in England are breeding them. “But how Sophie ended up on Mount Leinster is anybody’s guess,” Ivan said.

Jim phoned Ivan who agreed to take the pig back to his farm, between Waterfall and Ballinhassig, which has a zoo licence and conservation programme and which is home to a range of other exotic animals, including camels, meercats, water buffalo, and some rare breeds.

Despite a nationwide appeal, nobody has come forward to claim the hairy hog. She has settled into Rumley’s Open Farm “amazingly well”, given that she was found wandering in the wild.

“Pigs are very affectionate. It takes a bit of time to build trust but she’ll eat out of your hand now,” Ivan said.

“She’s in good health, she’s been wormed and dosed and she’s getting on really well now.”

He already manages micro pigs and pot belly pigs on the farm, but he said he is now determined to breed Mangalitsas.

“We’re learning about this pig as we go. She’s very good at keeping herself clean but, given her woolly coat, she will need a bit of extra help with grooming along the way, with some shampooing sessions,” he said.

And he guaranteed that she will never end up on a breakfast or dinner plate as long as he’s in charge.

Rumley’s Open Farm is due to reopen to visitors on the St Patrick’s Day weekend.

www.rumleysfarm.ie

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