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The American Guinea Hog is a landrace breed unique to the United States; it is the once-popular homestead hog or yard pig. As the habit of keeping homestead hogs disappeared, Guinea Hogs became increasingly uncommon. The breed has been saved from extinction through the efforts of a handful of farmers, but is still extremely rare. The American Livestock Breeds Conservancy conservation status of the American Guinea Hog is currently listed as “critical.”
Adult Guinea Hogs are black and weigh anywhere from 150 to 300 pounds. They are friendly and easy to handle, and sows are excellent mothers. Traditionally essential animals for subsistence farming, Guinea Hogs are rugged and efficient, foraging for grass, roots, nuts, and rodents. They are well suited to a family foodstead or a small, diversified farm like Sunnywood. American Guinea Hogs can produce outstanding meat and lard on pasture and forage, and they fit well into a multispecies pasture management approach. When provided with good forage and leftover farm produce, they are light rooters.
Thanks to the qualities of the breed, Guinea Hog breeders do not generally find it necessary to use worming anthelmintics or vaccinations, cut eye teeth, dock tails, or castrate young males being raised for slaughter. Guinea Hogs are an easy size for the small farm or homestead, and produce a smaller carcass, perfect for a single family.
About Guinea Hog Meat
When the first efforts to preserve and breed American Guinea Hogs began, there was such a small number of animals on the ground that they were deemed too expensive and rare to use as meat animals. However, breeders soon began to realize that in order to preserve the breed over the long term, it must become valued as a food source—and what a food source it is. Guinea Hog meat is not “the other white meat”: Guinea Hogs are traditional lard-type hogs, very different from long, lean commercial meat hogs. They produce a wonderfully marbled carcass with dark, tender meat.
An eight- to twelve-month old Guinea Hog will yield a 50- to 100-pound hanging-weight carcass. The extremely flavorful meat is redder than supermarket pork as a result of the hogs’ forage-based diet. Definitely not a conventional market carcass, a Guinea Hog carcass is small and contains more fat than is typical today. This is not an animal from which to use a few choice cuts; this is whole-hog artisan meat.
In a recent Slow Food taste test, Guinea Hog meat was described by tasters variously as tender but firm, succulent, moist, nutty and beautiful, buttery and juicy, very flavorful, and delicious. Chefs at upscale restaurants have begun featuring the meat, and typically use the entire animal, even incorporating the liver and fat into gourmet dishes.