The African Guinea Hog, according to Ralph Nathan in his book, Revisiting America’s Food Traditions, is thought to have ancestors that came to America three hundred years ago with African slaves who ended up in Applacia. It is possible the Guinea hogs were bred to English pigs. According to Nathan, Thomas Jefferson and his neighbors got black rose tinged hogs from Africa by way of the Canary Islands.
Initially these pigs were called Red Guineas, however, having been crossed with the English pigs, Essex pigs and West African Dwarf pigs, they remain black. Both the Red and Black Guineas could be found up and down the Appalachian Trail. They were called by various names including Acorn eaters, Forest pigs, yard pigs and Pinewoods Guinea Hogs.
These pigs provided excellent pork, ham and lard. They were valuable to small farms because of their ability to control pests. graze rough ground, root out perenial weeds and till the soil. They also were easy keepers eating acorns, chestnuts and fruit from orchards in addition to rodents, and snakes.
Guinea hogs are small, from about 250 pounds for gilts and sows to 350 pounds for boars. The butcher carcasses weight from 50 to 100 pounds. These small, versitile hogs were found on homesteads in the Appalachians well into the 1880s. With the improved breeds developed across the country for commercial use, the Guinea hog began to disappear. The Guinea Hog was considered critically rare during in 1990’s. According to the American Guinea Hog Association, the breed registry, they are critically endangered with less than 300 remaining in the country.
Why Guinea Hogs?
These small hogs have a wonderful disposition. They are friendly and easy to manage. Their food intake can vary and is easy to provide. They are avid grazers and will make short work of grass or weeds. They also are more than adequate rototillers. In addition, they can provide just the right amount of meat for a small homestead.