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Guinea hogs! Opinions?

 
Lauren Dixon
Posts: 67
Location: Kalispell, Montana
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I want to find out more about these Guinea Hogs. I recently met a local breeder who is offering an unrelated breeding pair for sale, and I am very tempted. Is anybody raising these? If so, what do you think of them? I have a small 1.5 acre homestead, and am very attracted by the idea that these guys don't do as much rooting as other pigs, so would be less destructive on my small holding. I have seen mixed reports about this trait, though, with some folks saying they are no different in habit than any other pig. Any thoughts? Also, I am attracted by the idea that they seem to do fine on forage and hay, which is how I like to feed my pigs, along with some leftover raw milk from my goats. How do they fare when it comes to feed conversion? Would love to hear what the permies crowd has to say...
 
Dave Hartman
Posts: 51
Location: Off grid in the central Rockies of Montana (at 6300') zone 3-4ish
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I purchased some runt potbellied pigs this fall after reading that they to do not root. They do root a small amount in areas I have sheet mulched. I will be keeping them out of my gardens from the spring till after harvest as I have a small area as well. I do see a day,when the forest garden matures, that I let them graze in it. The potbellies are much smaller than the guinea hogs. We are thinking about getting kunekune pigs this spring. These pigs are about the same size of the Guinea and they like a diet of grass.
 
Walter Jeffries
Posts: 1085
Location: Mountains of Vermont, USDA Zone 3
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I find that rooting is strongly affected by management. See:

http://sugarmtnfarm.com/2011/10/03/rootless-in-vermont/
 
Lauren Dixon
Posts: 67
Location: Kalispell, Montana
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Interesting Walter! So, my pigs have been rooting heavily since I got them as weaners, which was what I wanted at first. We had a massive infestation of hawkweed which had choked out nearly all of the grasses, and which even the goats and chickens wouldn't touch. Hawkweed is nearly impossible to eliminate without chemicals or a lot of manual labor, so I was pleased as pie to find that our pigs not only ate the hawkweed, but also dug the roots up, killing the plants. I have been following behind my portable pig pen with a good legume wildland grass seed mix. So, it is possible that after the new plants get established, I will see more grazing activity and less rooting?
 
Walter Jeffries
Posts: 1085
Location: Mountains of Vermont, USDA Zone 3
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To maximize rooting wet the soil and keep them on longer in greater mob density.

To maximize grazing rotate them faster through the paddocks.

This should help adjust the behavior. Pigs are lazy, as are most species, and want the maximum return on investment. Thus they'll tend to eat up the easy surface plantings before doing the work of digging.
 
Sue Miller
Posts: 47
Location: NE Oregon
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Lauren- I know someone with a Guinea Hog on a small holding and she has difficulty with it due to the rooting. I raise kunekune pigs and can vouch for them. They don't root my pasture or orchard at all. I have a small place, just 2 acres and no damage from my pigs.
Sue
http://www.kunepigs.com/
 
Renate Howard
pollinator
Posts: 755
Location: zone 6b
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Rooting can be a very good thing if you want to use it. They can till a garden for you, fertilizing it at the same time. They can remove stumps and weeds (put some corn around where you want them to dig). They can renovate pasture and clear areas in the pasture to let you replace bad pasture with native species or better grazing species. My pasture has a lot of the introduced fescue that has a fungus in it that makes toxins so it would poison any animals that graze it in the wrong part of the year. The seeds kill quail and other kinds of birds. I'm getting my pigs to root it out and I'm replanting those areas with fast-growing rye grass in the fall, clover, and native species that do well in rotational grazing as well, like gamagrass.

When they root they leave depressions in the ground that catch and hold rainwater so it doesn't run off. If your land is flat, I imagine they're also making raised areas that protect some of the forage from drowning in heavy rains. It's like they're doing small-scale berms and catchment basins all over for free. My pigs accidentally terraced under the fruit trees where I had them for winter - they just kept pushing the soil they dug up downhill until the fence stopped them, making a flat area where there hadn't been one before.

When they root they dig out the roots that are sweet with stored sugars - they can get fat on those. They're also eating earthworms and grubs. So that's free high-quality food for them.

IMHO as long as you move them around, they'll improve the pasture with the rooting.
 
Andrew Schreiber
Posts: 208
Location: Zone 6a, Wahkiacus, WA
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We have American Guinea Hogs. Not sure if that is the same animals you are talking about.

I am very pleased with them. They are good grazers and have a smaller maximum size so they are a bit more maneageable in that way. We have a breeding pair, last year the sow gave birth and raised 8 piglets. The piglets were about 60-80 pounds hanging weight after 6-8 months. the piglets ate almost exclusively grass, acorns, and scraps from the kitchen/garden. so, the meat was essentially free, no substantial outside imports.

over winter (when there is no grazing) we feed the alfalfa hay, kitchen scraps, sprouted barley/wheat, stored and dried acorns, and mangels (fodder beets), and whatever else we happen to have (old potatoes that get cooked, spoiled squash thats been cooked, fruit, rose hips, etc)

I agree with other folks who have suggested to keep the pigs rotating in order to reduce rooting. I never keep the pigs penned up in an area that I am not OK with them rooting to death. We generally pen them up in the winter in an area we are planning to seed. We have mobile housing which provides them cozy shelter and have to haul water to them in winter. but that is expectable since everything goes into deep freeze into winter (ie it is hard to run a house in the winter time).

all and all I love the American Guinea Hogs. They are very loveable and very hardy, not too aggressive, and from what I have seen they have good mothering instinct.
 
danny dineen
Posts: 14
Location: Lincoln, CA
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I heartily recommend american guinea hogs.

We've also raised berkshires and mangalitsas, and for our climate (wet and green in the winter, hot and arid in the summer), and our needs (we are an off the grid fledgling permaculture homestead with lots of beginner knowledge, enthusiasm and ignorance), the guinea hog has been our favorite. I think they are an excellent choice for a permaculture/homestead style farm for several reasons. Compared to berkshire (the american pink pig), their temperament is absolutely wonderful. Very friendly, and not escape artist-prone at all -- easy to shepherd from pasture to pasture with one strand of hotwire. They grow fat on pasture, and root for tubers and field mice dens with zest! Their meat is second to none, and very easy to harvest yourself because of their size. You should prepare for lots of fat to render, and you should use it for everything! If you are worried about them being smaller in stature and therefore less meat, this is true, and to that, I say, raise more of them! Best of luck. Also, +1 on W. Jeffries info on rooting behavior being related to pasture management. Even the berkshire pigs we rescued from less-than-ideal conditions turned into ferocious plowing pigs when you get them on open land and good dirt. However, I will say this, those guinea hogs pack on the lbs like nothing else. Like the mangalitsas, they are old world LARD PIGS. Better get your pate and charcuterie chops ready!

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Me and a young guinea hog.
 
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