Kintoa Production and Professions

Let yourself be seduced by the universe of Kintoa with its unique properties and the know-how inherited from ancient traditions. Discover the exception of its terroir, its taste and its stories that make Kintoa a heritage to share.

In the 1980s, under the impetus of a handful of breeders from the Valley of the Aldules, the sector was structured with the sole objective of supporting the farmers and craftsmen of the territory. Today, 80 men and women participate together in the manufacture of Kintoa: herders, slaughterhouses, processors, craftsmen, farmers and dryers.

1 A Little History
2 A Local Race
3 Kintoa’s Professions

The History of the Basque Pork Sector

Kintoa is first and foremost the story of a breed saved by a handful of breeders. In 1988, a few breeders gathered in the Aldudes Valley all the individuals of the Black Pie breed of the Basque Country (the Basque pig), then threatened with extinction. There are only 25 sows and 2 boars left alive.

In 1994, a conservation breeding of the breed was set up. 29 breeders are working together to revive the breed. 136 sows and 34 boars were active at that time.

In 2001, the dynamic of developing local production based on traditional know-how was launched. “The “Association for the Development of the Basque Pork Sector” is created, as well as the Aldudes Collective Dryer (created by 5 artisan pork butchers from the Basque Country). Its first action is to initiate a process of recognition as an Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée for pork meat and dry ham. A file is filed with the INAO (Institut National des Appellations d’Origine).

In 2016, the Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée is obtained for Kintoa meat and Kintoa Ham (decree of 5 August 2016).
Today, 80 members are grouped within the Kintoa Basque Pork Sector, an organisation for the defence and management of the Kintoa and Kintoa Ham AOC.

Key Datas

57 Breeders

16 Farmers

1 Slaughterhouse

4 Butchers and butchers craftsmen

2 Dryers

2. Pasque Pork, the Local Race

The Basque pig is one of the oldest breeds in Europe, a true cultural heritage. It is also called Pie Noir du pays Basque or Euskal Xerria in Basque, and like the other local French pig breeds, it almost disappeared in favour of other breeds, called more “classic” because they are more productive, such as the Large White breed, or the Landrace breed.

Basque pig identity card

From the large family of Iberian pigs
Walking and rustic pig, it is suitable for extensive breeding and mountain environment
Sows raise on average 8 piglets per litter, they are very maternal and good dairy cows.

Kintoa professions


The Filière Porc Basque has in its association more than 20 breeder breeders, who only work with pure breeds. The management and manner of birthing can vary depending on the breeder’s choices, the available surface area and existing buildings:

full open air with birthing huts and service parks/gestation
outdoor in the summer, and building the rest of the year
mixed: birth in a building, projection and gestation outdoors
in buildings all year round

Projection and gestation

On a breeder’s farm, it is customary to find 1 boar for every 7 sows, the breeding takes place a few days after weaning.
During the gestation period, which lasts 3 months, 3 weeks and 3 days, the sow can stay in a building or in an outdoor park with a shelter, depending on the farms.
Birth, weaning and post-weaning
Before being weaned, piglets remain between 1 month and 1.5 months under the mother.
During identification, the breeder will pre-select the females he wishes to keep for breeding and it will be necessary to wait for the passage of the Approval Committee to confirm the breeding, around 6 months of age.
In Basque pork, the breeder also carries out the post-weaning stage. Thus, until the age of 3 months, the piglets remain on the breeder’s farm. At 3 months, they reach a weight of 30 kg.

Grease nipple

Depending on the piglet production of the breeders, the Basque Pork Sector will place the pigs in the fatteners where they will have a park (undergrowth, moorland or meadow), from which they will be able to collect food resources themselves: grass, fern, roots, beech, chestnuts and acorns in season (Basque pigs are excellent grazers). Most of their food is cereals (barley, maize, triticale) and protein crops (soya, rape, peas), as the specifications of the sector require non-GMO food.

The Basque pig parks have a maximum of 40 pigs per hectare and consist of a shelter (wooden hut, tunnel hut) that provides pigs with a dry place to sleep.
The fatteners also put a ring on the snout of the Basque pig, so that it can graze without “turning” the plot. A crawl space (cleaning and disinfection of plots and buildings) is applied at least 4 months after each batch, in order to eliminate any health risk and allow vegetation to regenerate.
Farmers tend to ration Basque pigs to avoid an all-you-can-eat diet that would result in an overproduction of fatty tissues.


The slaughterhouse in Saint Jean Pied de Port represents a real asset for the Basque Pig Sector: it is specially equipped for a real quality treatment of heavy pigs and is ideally located in relation to the distribution of farmers in the sector.
To access this stage, the live weight of the pig must reach a minimum of 130 kg and it is the weighing that determines the remuneration paid to the farmer.

The recording of the earring number of each animal will also allow the Filière Porc Basque to find the age of each Basque pig in order to ensure that it is over 12 months old. The meat will then continue to mature (also called “resweating”) before being sent to the processor for cutting, or recovered by the farmer wishing to process his Basque pigs himself.


The ham will be dried for at least 16 months, under particularly controlled conditions, which will give it its unique and inimitable taste. For more information, visit the Kintoa Ham page.