Thursday, January 13, 2011

Coming soon- Guinea hogs!

Guinea hogs on pasture in SW Missouri
It's been a while since I wrote about hogs, but they've been at the forefront of my farm planning this month.  I mentioned in a previous post that my goal is to raise meat animals that can maximize their use of grass and forage.  My previous three years raising standard breed (Hampshire and Hamp/York cross) feeder pigs has come nowhere close to this goal.  I thought about abandoning hogs for that reason, but we do like the pork and they're a great outlet for garden waste and leftovers.  (We don't have trash pick up here, so nearly every scrap of food waste finds a home in compost or animal feed)
Guinea boar, "Buttercup"

Modern hog breeds need free-choice access to a mixture of grain and soybean oil meal ground to 16% protein.  Organic substitutes are hard to find around here and prohibitively expensive.  The alternative is to raise a heritage breed of hog that was bred to scavenge most of its nutrition.  Guinea hogs were once the most common yard pig in the South where they lived on grass, clover, acorns, food scraps, and their favorite... snakes.  When it fell out of fashion to keep just a few hogs for the family, this breed spiraled toward extinction. 
Guinea sow
 About 20 years ago a small group of breeders, in concert with the American Livestock Breeds Association (ALBA), rounded up all the breeding stock they could find (about 20 animals), to save these unique genetics. 

Guineas are quite a bit smaller than standard hog breeds, with the maximum weight of boars reaching 300 lbs rather than 800 lbs or more.  The pigs are born at just 1 lb and take quite a while to reach their mature size, but since they require so little supplemental feed they shouldn't be overly expensive to raise.

Four-year-old, Buttercup, the boar and the sow at left will be joining us here on Bluestem Farm any day now.  Pigs are expected in April!

1 comment:

Laura Reynolds said...

Do you currently have any Guinea hogs for sale, specifically an un-castrated piglet? My email address is