Montanera is the final breeding phase of the Iberian pig, and consists in allowing the pigs to graze in the reserve, reaching the traditional fattening phase, among the oak forests which provide the acorns, the staple food of the pigs before being sent to slaughter. Only the finest examples who have passed the previous phases are allowed to access this vital acorn-based fattening phase.
The Montanera phase goes from October to February, coinciding with the acorn ripening season. The animals commence this phase weighing about 90 kg. and can end it weighing up to 160 kg. in years of good harvest of acorns, with an average daily increase in weight of 0.67 kg.
Whilst grazing, in contrast to the intensive production system, the Iberian pig lives free-range in this area and is constantly on the move, which is why the quality of its meat reaches such excellent standards. In fact, every pig needs about one hectare of grazing space during the Montanera phase. In this crucial phase, the acorn, given its high carbohydrate content, provides the animals with calories that are turned into the famous fat, while the herbs add the distinctive aroma to all the Iberian by-products.