Raising American Guinea Hogs is a lot different than “commercial” hogs. The American Guinea Hog originated in the 19th Century American South. The have highly flavorful meat, a sufficient amount of lard, amazing temperaments, small size and are great grazers. These characteristics make them the ideal Homestead Hog.
In the 19th Century, the American Guinea Hogs were expected to forage for their own food. The would eat grass, clover, roots, nuts, fallen fruits and leftover gardens. They would stay close to the house and keep mice, rats and snakes away. They were able to gain weight on forage and produce flavorful meat and lard.
When the hog industry was industrialized the small homestead hog was left behind. They would fatten up too much on the commercial feed and become more of a lard than a meat hog. Thankfully, people kept small herds of these hogs and that is why they still exist today.
So let’s throw everything you know about raising hogs out the window and let me introduce to you a new, small-scale, sustainable hog.
The AGH (American Guinea Hog) is a social hog. They do better with a friend or two or twenty. It helps them to be easier on fencing and not want to go where the grass is greener. We use field fencing with a span of 10 – 12 feet between t-posts. We also have corner posts from peeler cores to prevent the fence from sagging. Since we run a couple females, a boar and weaner pigs we needed an area to separate them when needed. We purchased two 3ft tall hog panels that are 16 feet long and placed them in the corner so their pen is 16ft x 16ft and has fence line one two sides and hog panels on two sides. We use this area when we bring new pigs in, a sow is farrowing or we don’t want our boar near the ladies. We also have a Livestock Guardian Dog that likes to dig when she is bored so we have run a single strand of hotwire about 6” from the ground. Since we have clay soil we run a ground wire along the fence too. She stays far away from the fence line and so do the hogs. I don’t think it is necessary but it depends on the temperament of the hog.
We have two different houses in the hog pasture. One is in the main area and the other on is in the smaller fenced area. The larger one in the main area is about 6ft x 6ft and made of wood with a metal roof. We live in snow country so we have to over-build just in case.
We did paint it to protect it from the elements and make it look cute! It has venting on the top and the bottom to allow for air flow. We throw some straw in there and the are good to go.
The other house is not as fancy but it is very functional and inexpensive. We came across 275 gallon plastic totes that are caged in metal for about $100 a piece. It doesn’t look like much but when you take a grinder to the metal and cut the plastic it becomes a nifty little hut.
It is on a pallet so it is raised up and they stay nice and toasty with a bit of straw thrown in. Be sure to leave a little lip on the bottom of the entry to keep the hay from falling out.
American Guinea Hogs are pasture hogs and are great foragers. If you have pastures, you are set. Put them in give them a shelter and they will be in hog heaven! Even if you have wooded areas they are able to forage for a large percentage of their calories. Since we do not have large pastures or large fenced wooded areas we feed them primarily barley fodder.
This gives them the pasture grass they are used to along with a root mat that is packed full of nutrients. We also have some of my Nigerian Dwarf Bucks in the pasture with them so they get some alfalfa and orchard grass hay that they steal away from the goats. They really love the alfalfa! We also feed them scraps from the house and garden leftovers. You have to be careful not to overfeed these hogs. You do not need to feed them a large amount of calories because any excess will turn to fat. We always look at their body condition to tell if they need a bit more food or not. Please stay away from commercial hog feed as much as possible. It is not healthy for these hogs and will cause more damage than good.
We give the hogs a small wallow during the summer for them to bathe in. I don’t know if it is necessary but they love it! King George, our boar, is king of the wallow during hot days.
At first we tried giving them a low water trough but they would knock it over and play in the water. We decided that chasing the trough around the pasture and pulling it back up to the hose wasn’t the best way to spend our time. We have 55 gallon barrels from the feed that we purchase. We drilled a hole at the bottom of it and put in a Hog Waterer Nipple. This allows us to keep a large amount of water for them without it being splashed everywhere. It does drip a bit but for the most part it works! We did find that we needed to put a weight in the bottom of it since it is not strapped to something.
If you are interested in American Guinea hogs you can check out our website and see when our next farrowing with be. We sell both registered and unregistered hogs and will be raising a limited number and selling them as finished hogs with a reservation.