Why We Raise and Breed American Guinea Hogs
When we started our small, part-time farm experience, we did not envision raising pigs. Too expensive to feed, too labor intensive, too dangerous – all reasons we shied away from them. Then one day, in a moment of insanity, my wife and I decided to get 2 pigs. Why two? Because we surfed the web and learned that having one pig was just mean. They like company. So, we got two sisters. Big pigs, Landrace or Duroc or something like that. The seller wasn’t sure what they were. I looked over at the mama and she was big. She looked juicy! I’ll take two!
And they grew and grew, very fast. At the first kill time, we took one of them, fully expecting to kill the other too. But, uh, we found out really quick a 280-pound pig fills the freezer, and the second freezer quick. So, the second pig was, you guessed it, all alone. So much for companionship. We tried to breed her via artificial insemination and were successful. However, she miscarried and that was that. We eventually sold her.
Now what do we do? This brings me to the number one reason we went with American Guinea Hogs, also known as AGH.
The Right Amount of Meat for a Family of Three
The first pig I told you about yielded meat for a year! That is too long. We needed a good but smaller pig. So, once again we went to the web for find our perfect pig. After looking at several smaller pig breeds, we saw that the American Guinea Hog, or AGH for short, was a good candidate. Most folks were taking them at about 120 pounds and getting about 60 pounds of pork. Just what we needed. Now for our second concern – the possible dangers of raising a pig.
A Very Docile Breed
Our first large pigs were very nice. We did not have to really worry about them being hostile. There was one time I slipped and fell while working on their housing. One came over at a run to see me. She may have been thinking “is he alright?” but I am thinking “is she going to eat me?”. We have all heard the stories. I learned that AGH were very friendly and rarely aggressive. Plus, being smaller, how much could they do to you? Don’t let that fool you. They are strong little critters. But so far, we have never had an issue with our AGH pigs. Even when they farrowed and we picked up the little ones, the most the mommas did to us was grunt fast and firmly as if to say “what are you doing with my child?”
We can pet our AGH’s and they will fall down and roll over to have their bellies rubbed. They will come when we call or sometimes run over to us just to have an ear scratched. The gentleness of AGH extends to the boar. Not quite as friendly as the ladies but still safe to be around.
Feeding and Care Expenses
My wife and I do not want to spend our retirement savings feeding pigs. Another big selling point to us was that, pound for pound, they are costing us way less than a traditional full-size pig. And this is not because they are small. These guys will eat anything you give them, the more the merrier. In fact, it is easy to overfeed them. The reason they are less expensive to feed is that they are pasture pigs! Yep, they are like little cows. It is a hoot to see them looking at you with grass hanging out of their mouths. All I can think is, grass is free! We do feed them a little feed, more in the winter, but it is a fraction of what one large hog eats in a day.
Easier and less expensive care is something else we chose them for. For instance, I bought teeth nippers for the expected piglets from our large pig. Don’t need them for AGH. I watched castration videos ad nauseum for the large pig. Don’t have to do it with AGH. I wormed the first pigs we had. Nope. Not applicable with AGH. I set up big pig fencing, not it really holds little pigs back from exploring the neighborhood. Do they ever get out? Does the sun rise and set? We have had the wonderful pleasure of chasing our AGH’s a couple of times. They do know how to find the weakest link in a fence. But it was no problem to get them back. It simply takes a feed bucket and a high-pitched “pig, pig” call and here they come. Better than dogs do!
AGH is the Way to GO!
There are many more reasons that we are happy with our AGH pigs. Maybe we will detail some of them for you in future updates. But I will heartily endorse them for anyone who is looking for an easy to raise pig.