American Guinea Hogs

 

The Guinea Hog is a lard type hog and in many ways is very different than the commercial hogs of today.  Recent genetic testing has shown Guineas to be genetically distinct from modern hog breeds.

What is so great about these hogs?


1. Smaller size. Guineas usually reach a top weight of 200 to 300 pounds.  This size makes them easier to handle on the farm, and produces a smaller carcass at butchering, just right for a single family.

2. Docile disposition.  This breed is known for their easy-going and friendly temperaments.  Sows don't mind people around piglets and piglets are easily tamed.  Boars are not aggressive, and some breeders even leave boars with their sows to raise piglets as a family unit.

3. Gourmet pork. Guinea hogs do not produce a traditional market carcass. Being a lard breed, they are fattier, and their smaller size will yield a carcass of about 50 to 100 pounds.  This is not "the other white meat."  The meat is darker, more marbled, and more tender than the pork most people have become accustomed to.  Guineas are listed on the Slow Food USA: Ark of Taste and rank high in taste tests compared with other heritage and commercial hogs.

4. Hardiness. Many breeders of Guineas find their hogs don't require worming, nor do piglets need vitamin shots at birth.  They do equally well in the cold northern states as they do in the south.  They can live for many years; some boars have lived to be 14.

5. Efficient feed conversion.  Very little grain is needed to keep these hogs in good weight.  Many breeders feed hay or forage as a main portion of the Guinea's diet.  Being a lard type hog, they tend to get fat if overfed, and don't need anywhere near the amount of grain required by a commercial hog.

6. Utility. Guineas are a multi-purpose animal that fits in well on small diversified farms.  They can till garden plots, root out stubborn weeds, glean fallen fruit in the orchard, acorns in the woods, and keep your yard free from pests.

7. Genetic uniqueness.  Because of the distance these hogs have, genetically, from most modern breeds, they are a valuable resource or "insurance" against the possibility of genetic decline in modern breeds.

8. Variability. These hogs aren't cookie cutter versions of each other.  There are long noses and short; longer bodies and shorter, broader bodies; curly hair or straight; white markings on noses, or red tinted hair.  There is now a Breed Description for these hogs, but it isn't a breed "standard." One of the things we want to conserve about these hogs is the variety of traits they have.

9. Personality.  If you like hogs, you'll really like these hogs.  They are all unique in their mannerisms and personality.  Some are real "talkers" while others are quieter, and spending time with them is always a positive part of our day here.

More about OUR Guineas:



There are many ways to keep hogs.  Here is how we keep ours and what works for us.  We like to give our animals plenty of room to get exercise and just "be a pig."

Hog Pens: Our hogs live outside in pipe-fenced paddocks.  The pipe fences are lined with hog panels for the smaller hogs, the adults are big enough that they are kept in by the pipe fence alone.  Their paddocks are on the east side of one of our barns, and a lean-to off the barn is their shelter.  The paddocks run right up under the lean-to and we bed them with lots of straw.

Free Ranging: In 2010 we allowed several sows to have the run of the 140 acres during the summer and fall.  The barnyard is near the center of the property and we trained the sows to come back for a treat of corn when called.  These sows farrowed out in the woods and brush and turned out to be excellent mothers raising between six and ten piglets each.  One good result of this experiment (besides the nice fat crop of piglets) was seeing how well the sows maintained their weight on their own.  We didn't feed any significant amount of feed to them, just a sprinkle of corn to get them to come to the barnyard for a daily check; they fed themselves and their piglets on their own and were actually a bit too fat at the end of the season.

We hope to allow them to do this again in the future, but need to put up one new boundary fence on our southern property line.  We are bordered by wooded state land and some of the sows loved venturing into those woods!  Unfortunately, it is legal for hunters to harvest "feral" hogs here and the DNR wasn't too thrilled about the rooting the sows did either.  Use caution and common sense, as always, in applying these ideas to your own operation.


Feed: In winter we feed lots of grass or grass/alfalfa mix hay and also some grain.  Grain is whatever we have available, usually whole oats or whole corn.  If we don't have any of our own grain, we buy a cracked corn/oats mix from our local feed mill.  In summer we feed the same, with the addition of garden scraps, kitchen scraps, weeds and grass picked for them from around the farm.  In the above picture you can see they are eating a pumpkin leftover from Halloween.  The hogs don't get a lot of grain, their main diet is hay and greens.

Water: We water twice a day in rubber feed pans.  In winter the water freezes, but twice a day fresh water is provided and keeps the pigs healthy and happy.  In summer they have water available at all times, refreshed twice a day, plus their self-dug mud pit for lounging.

Farrowing: In winter we use the barn for farrowing sows.  The barn isn't heated, but we bed deep and have a heat lamp in a creep area for the piglets.  Some piglets only use the creep area for a couple days, some for a week, and after that they stayed bedded with the sow.  They are very hardy.  Summer farrowing is outside in the hog pens, or out in the woods.  We don't usually dip navels when the piglets are born, and don't clip needle teeth, dock tails, or give shots.  We do separate the boar at farrowing time, but like to keep him with a sow for company as much as possible.