The Dehesa is made up of extensions of open fields covered by holm oaks, while its surface is composed of grasslands and shrubs. This same term also refers to an ecosystem resulting from the agricultural and livestock activities of men.
The Dehesa, therefore, is an almost natural ecosystem, and we say practically natural, since it is a system which has been originally created and managed by men taking advantage of pre-existing natural conditions in the area. In the ecosystem we know today the correct management of livestock is key to ensure its sustainability.
Consequently, it goes without saying that this type of ecosystem offers marvellous areas for grazing. As different species live side by side in this space, the different areas are usually divided by stone walls to separate different land uses.
Livestock, as we say, is the most important production generated in the Dehesa, besides being the tool to create and improve land control and management, preventing the spread of scrub.
Currently, there is even an overproduction of cattle, partly due to subsidies offered by the government, which in some areas are not allowing the total regeneration of the Dehesa. It is therefore important to control the size of cattle production in relation to the hectares available for grazing, so as to ensure the land's correct regeneration.
In addition to pigs, cows, sheep and bulls, the Dehesa's areas are also inhabited by wild animals like the black stork and the imperial eagle. Additionally we can also find a variety of species highly prized for their value as hunting trophies: deer, wild boars, partridges, etc. Consequently the Dehesas can also become hunting grounds or areas regulated to protect certain species.
Another means of subsistence of the Dehesa is through its trees. Their wood is very resistant even to putrefaction, so that it is used to make parts that have to withstand high friction, such as cars, plows, wood floors, tools, etc. as well as small hydraulic works and construction works such as pillars or beams. It is also an excellent product to make charcoals, which represent the main source of domestic fuel in large parts of Spain. Another product obtained from these trees is cork, which is reporting increasingly greater benefits.
The Dehesa regions have a very particular climate, suffering very dry summer, with low rainfall, during which the amount of food available to livestock is drastically reduced. It is at this time of year when the land suffers more the consequences of overpopulation.
The acorn season, the favourite of the Iberian pig, begins in October and ends in February. During this season the weather is cool and rainfall is frequent, transforming the yellow pastures we see during the summer months into a green carpet. It is at this stage of the pig's life when it essentially doubles its weight by eating acorns.
Our Iberian Pork production at Juan Pedro Domecq is limited, allowing us to promote growth and regeneration of the Dehesa grasslands allowing better conditions of our pigs and a higher degree of sustainability for our land.