Pedro Jose Iglesias León
My name is Pedro Jose Iglesias León and I work as a free-range goose farmer without force-feeding in the municipality of Calzadilla de los Barros. I come from a family that has traditionally been dedicated to livestock, my father has always been linked to livestock and I have known this trade since I was a child.
And although my family raised cattle and pigs, and I always participated in the work in the fields, I dedicated myself to construction and developed my professional career in this sector, and it was not until 2015 when I took the step of recovering my parents’ trade and together with my wife and son we set up our goose farm.
We wanted to do something new in Extremadura and add diversity to the products that our region offers, so we decided to go for the goose, an animal that, although it lives in this part of Spain and uses it as a transit area in its migrations, is not usually bred as a livestock product.
So I travelled to France, a country where there is a long tradition of goose farming, to find out how they worked with this animal. The goose has incredible gastronomic properties and, together with the food it is fed here and the way the meat is worked, has allowed us to produce a product such as goose acorn-fed ham, which has the characteristic and intense flavour of Iberian hams.
Goose that move freely
We are fortunate to have a farm with a geographical location in a privileged environment and with a unique microclimate, as it is just a short distance from the El Raposo Spa, which is also a resting area for birds during their migration period. All this makes this location the perfect enclave to take advantage of the natural cycle and obtain the best product from these birds.
The Ocas are reared on our property in complete freedom, in accordance with the farming tradition of our land, and our animals are fed on the farm’s own crops, cereals, acorns and figs.
Implementing this form of breeding was a challenge for us and during the first 5 years since we acquired the farm we have carried out a thorough remodelling of the facilities, and many management tests, always with the aim of achieving a natural product with the highest quality and that is in total balance with our environment.
As a result of our efforts to perfect the free-range rearing process and the management of the Ocas, we have achieved a more flavoursome meat and healthier fat, with extra quality due to the fact that they are constantly moving in their natural environment.
Making a unique product
What we try to do is to have a product that has just the opposite of what the market offers this animal, i.e. forced overfeeding, captive breeding and, in short, animals that are stressed and suffer during the breeding process.
One of the moments when the animal suffers the most is during transport, and especially during the transfer to the slaughterhouse. We have fought hard to be able to house the entire production process on our farm, so that the breeding, slaughter and preparation of the goose takes place in the same place.
Having the entire production process on the same farm is very rare in our country and allows us, together with free-range rearing and a natural diet, to offer a goose product completely free of animal suffering, as well as having total control over the quality and freshness of the final product.
Another of our concerns with animal welfare has to do with foie gras, one of the goose’s most highly valued products. This animal has the capacity to accumulate fat in its liver as a reserve for the migrations that this animal makes every year in the wild, and it is from this fatty liver that foie is produced. Normally, to produce this foie, the animal is forced to eat in order to generate this reserve in its liver. We avoid forced feeding by providing it with a very nutritious diet based on acorns, cereals and figs and taking advantage of the natural cycles of the geese.
In this way we can produce a seasonal foie micuit from animals fed on acorns without the need to overfeed the birds, our production is lower but we can offer a more ethical and higher quality foie.