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
What is so great about these
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
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
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
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.