We’ve been preparing for hogs for some time now. My husband has experience with hogs, not me. We were doing them with a Family Member but because of the distances between where we live– an entire mtn dividing us– we felt it wasn’t fair to him, who was doing everything, and well, we were missing out ourselves by not being involved. I enjoy interacting with my animals on a daily bases and so does my husband. In a world that is crazy and often spins out of control, being around our little barnyard releases the stress and pressure. Sometimes the work comes at inconvenient times but overall, I can’t complain. We don’t have a lot of land here, though, so I have to be careful what we bring in. That’s why we decided on something that is old and nearly forgotten…
The American Guinea Hog
These hogs are called many things. Just to name a few, Acorn Eaters, Forest Hogs, and Yard Pigs. Over 200 years old, they range in sizes from 150- 300 pounds. Around 6 months of age, they should be around 75 pounds– which makes them a great butcher size if that’s your goal. Meat is perfectly marbled and the lard peels easily.
In general, they are a smaller hog and easier to handle. While they don’t do a lot of the damage the larger hogs are known for, Guinea Hogs, were very helpful back in the day when gettin’ Gardens ready for planting season wasn’t as easy as turnin’ on a tiller.
I have mine in the Garden now – wanting to test them out. They dig just enough, the way a tiller would. Since they are slower growing, I got mine now so they would be ready to butcher come next Fall or Winter. Another reason I got them, I want them fertilizing, churnin’ up the soil, and eating up all the roots (to help me avoid weeds come summer) in my Garden during colder months.
There is a benefit to the cost of keepin’ them too. See, the greatest thing about these hogs is the fact that they are resourceful scavengers. I worry that if something were to happen, if I was unable to get Feed, could these animals make it without store-bought help. When choosing chickens or anything for my small farm, I take that into consideration. These pigs win the prize for that trait.
Guineas can, if given enough space to free-range, fend for themselves. In fact, if you have a Guinea and you aren’t letting them live off grass, grubs and whatever else they can find, you are missing out and putting a dent in your wallet unnecessarily. Let them work and find the majority of their food on their own. This is what makes them perfect for the small homesteader.
And since they are a smaller hog, if no one if here to help come Butcher time, we can handle it on our own. That’s something else people should consider. Are you butchering yourself? If you are, are you capable of handling huge hogs? Do you have a tractor or hoist to hang them? Do you have a space big enough to clean and work up the meat?
Guineas, by being smaller, are easier to handle and work with. They have a red meat, a good marble, and to some, are considered more lean. Lard, of course, will depend on the space they have, if they are being fed and fattened or allowed to free-range some and how long you keep them.
For our piggies, since they were born November, putting them around 4 months old, we are starting them out on a Show-pig Starter. After that, we will move to regular feed for pigs, also allowing them to hunt their own food out the older they get. My property has woods, so this will be a perfect area for them especially once I move them out of my garden area.
If you are interested in raising Hogs but are unaure if you can handle one, then I suggest the American Guinea Hog. Something that maybe easier for you to handle and get adapted to. They are also scarce in numbers, which is a crying shame. Another reason I chose them. I think there are only 200 registered in the US, and 2000 worldwide? I like dealing with breeds that were prized once upon a time but are now seeing critical lists. Makes me feel better doing what I do. As if I am preserving a piece of the past.