June 7, 2014

Pig

Getting pigs has been one of our yearly homestead goals for several years. Considering our goal of having a self-sustainable food supply, I always figured we'd eventually keep a breeding pair, but considering our lack of experience with pigs, I also figured we'd start out with a couple of "practice" pigs which we'd raise for the learning of it.


I've looked for young pigs from time to time, but have always been dismayed at the price. Seems the "going rate" for a weaner pig runs in the hundreds of dollars. To buy and fatten a couple for the freezer, adding on killing and butchering fees (since most folks don't do the deed themselves), doesn't seem a very economical way to have pork. I began to wonder if I shouldn't just look for a pair to breed anyway.


Breed was a consideration, especially after hearing so many horror stories about aggressive pigs. A heritage breed was a must, as commercial breeds are developed for production rather than other purposes. Initially I wanted Red Wattles, but soon learned that there were none to be had anywhere near me nor neighboring states.




Then I started to get suggestions from readers about American Guinea Hogs.


The American Guinea Hog is a true American heritage breed, developed right here in the southeastern United States. Listed as "threatened" by The Livestock Conservancy, they are an ideal homestead pig: small (adult weights approaching only 200 pounds), docile, friendly, excellent foraging pasture pigs.


I have been keeping an eye on craigslist for a pair of these, i.e. an unrelated male and female. When I found them I was delighted. Unfortunately it didn't work out for the female, so at the moment I have only one lone little boy pig.


He spent his first day looking for someone or something familiar. He came from a place with Nigerian Dwarf goats so he was at home with my billy boys. The billy boys weren't too sure about him.


He's a very busy little fellow, always on the move, always eating, always grunting with an occasional squeal and rare bark. He comes running when he sees me with his dish of table scraps and whey in the morning. He adores the whey and slurps it right down. He burrows in the straw at night between the hay feeder and the goats' sleeping pallets. We tried to make him a mud hole but his water dish will do just fine to cool off in, thank you very much. He appears to have made himself right at home.


Even so, pigs are companionable animals and not loners. It is better to have at least two. I've been told that for those being raised for meat, having competition for the food makes them gain weight quicker. This pig is for breeding, so that's not an issue, but, 1 + 0 ≠ more pigs! He needs a sweetheart. Hopefully I'll find him one soon.

Two more links of interest for American Guinea Hogs are:

Pig © June 2014 by Leigh at 

26 comments:

  1. Oh my goodness what a cute fella, if you are keeping him for breeding are you going to name him ?
    I am surprised at the cost of weaners over there, we have a couple of weaners marked from a neiboughring farm for when we move, but its not definate, they are Tamworth, Gloucster Old Spot crosses, if we dont get them this year we will get a couple off him next year.

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  2. Leigh,

    Welcome to your new pig, he's adorable. Shall I same he's a ham for the camera......LOL!!!!

    I hope you find a female soon, good luck.

    What have you named him?

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  3. What a darling little character. So happy for you guys to reach another milestone with your property's development. Fingers crossed he gets a pen-pal very soon!

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  4. It's been on our to do list since we moved to our place two and a half years ago. Ive got the pen half fenced off I just need to finish it, I think the girls would love a pig to play with and feed. Maybe I should spur myself into action and get the pen finished! Yours looks a right little character already!

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  5. Leigh,

    He is so cute. I do hope you find him a girlfriend soon.

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  6. Oh, he is a cute little guy. But then all pigs are cute when they're little. He'll be at that 200 pounds before you know it. Good luck with finding the female.

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  7. Oh, he is so cute! I would never be able to turn that cutie into pork. :-)Hope you find him a friend soon. Lone pigs become like Labradors when there are people around.

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  8. When I go to work on Monday, I will find out if we have any sweeties for him. We have two sows and a boar and they always breed them. It might mean a meet (or meat) in the middle drive for us both, but at least I know you will be able to get one.

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  9. What great pictures you got, Leigh. Yep, here's hoping you can locate a mail-order bride for him soon!

    I so admire all you and Dan are doing to work toward your goals of a truly self-sufficient homestead.

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  10. I love pigs-They are very smart anaimals too. I would not have a clue on how to raise them but I sure enjoy enjoy watching them via blogs.

    Hopefully, a sweetheart will be there soon.

    Velva

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  11. Dawn, I did recently find a few feeder pigs later in the $75 range, but by that time we were already in gear for the Guinea Hogs. They do appear to get snapped up quickly I notice. Do check out the link to the pig chart. Both of the breeds you mention are on it along with some helpful information.

    Yes to the name!

    Sandy, so far we're just calling him "Pig." Dan isn't so sure that's a proper name, but I remind him of what Farmer Hoggett named his entry for the sheep dog trials, LOL. If we come up with something else, I'll let you know.

    Chris, a pen-pal! I like that. We're really thrilled with this little guy and what it means for our homestead future.

    Kev, gotta love that never-ending, ever-growing to-do list. I'm glad we just jumped in as we did, but then this is an easy care breed so that helped with the timing.

    DFW, thanks! Me too. :)

    Sue, everything is cute when they're little except reptiles and insects, LOL

    Cecilia, so far he's happy to follow the goats around! Hopefully we'll get a female soon.

    Barb, do let me know. Convincing Dan to take the drive might take some doing, LOL He balked at the 80 miles for the female I was trying to get and was a little relieved it didn't work out.

    Mama Pea, a mail order bride it may have to be! (See Farmer Barb's offer above) We'll see.

    Velva, I have to say that I found better pig information on the internet than from library books. I checked out several of those but they were all geared toward a different kind of pig raising. Hurray for the internet!



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  12. Love the pictures of Pig with your newest billy. The one makes it seem that the goat was scared of this intruder.

    Very cute, hope you are able to find him a girl friend soon.

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  13. Congratulations! You must be a mind reader, because I have been researching this breed recently. Would be perfect for my small place. Good luck finding a girlfriend for him :)

    http://caffeinatedhomestead.weebly.com/blog

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  14. the sniffing of goat and pig is hilarious - you can't be too careful with newcomers:) I like pigs, they tend to have a bad name, but that's only down to the way humans keep them. and they are clever - I remember the antics of a pig I looked after during my teenage years - like a child, always another silly idea:) enjoy your newcomer and good luck with finding him a pal...

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  15. Leigh he's super cute, and I love the sound of the full grown adult size. How much space will you need for him, and will you set aside a certain area eventually? If we end up with a property with enough space, I wouldn't mind raising a couple of pigs but the property we're currently considering may not have the room after we take the chickens and goats into account.

    I saw your comment on my blog (thank you!) and you're right! Between full-time university and full time home life and pregnancy sickness, I haven't been on top of it, to put it mildly. I'm hoping that this coming year with some more time at home I'll be able to focus on it more and redevelop it a bit. We're also hoping to move so I may have more exciting adventures to write about. :)

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  16. He's so cute! You could start his own blog page! Life of Pig.

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  17. I am not sure where you are at, but here weaner pigs are around 65.00 for a pig weighing 65+/- lbs...A dollar a lbs is a good translation...We gave 65.00 a piece for the 7 we have they range in weight from 50 to 100 lbs...We have Durocs which are also a heritage breed they make a great meat pig with huge hams! Good luck with your pig endeavors you little one is a real cutie...

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  18. I'm glad you are not going to kill him. He's got too much personality.

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  19. Another great post, Leigh. The more I see and read what others are doing the more I see I have much to learn.

    Growing up on farm we had a few pigs for the freezer on and off, and had friends and relatives with farrowing and finishing operations. All farrowed or finished traditional large scale hog operation breeds. As much I would like some pig in our freezer, I've always known those breeds are really not suited for our setup today, or anything we are likely to set up in the future.

    As I dig into learning about homesteading, I'm learning it doesn't have to be "go big or go home". I love that there are other options and still am a bit amazed that even in a farming community small scale options are just not discussed. Maybe I can do some little work in changing that in my little corner.

    Mark

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  20. He is a cute little guy. I hope you find in a girlfriend quickly! T.

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  21. You are so going to enjoy having your guinea hogs. We have raised American Guinea Hogs for a few years now. They are such good little hogs. Great personalities!We feel safe having our young boys around them too. they are the perfect breed for the small farm/homestead.
    Janet

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  22. Renee, Pig runs right up to the goats and doesn't think anything of giving them a good sniff-over. They want nothing to do with him!

    Stephanie, we haven't been pig holders for very long, but I'd say the guinea hog is the perfect small homestead breed!

    Bettina, it's true pigs tend to have a bad rep. War stories always seem to outweigh happier tales.

    Rosalyn, we do have a designated area once we get two, but this breed seems to mix very well with other animals, no problems. I had originally thought we'd use pigs in areas we wanted to plant in the following year, letting them root and pre-plow. This breed doesn't seem to root as much. One of the "selling points" is that they won't tear up your yard (by rooting). Pig does love to root, but more in straw and leaves than actually turning dirt. That was the only disappointing quality about the breed, but I am happy with the breed.

    Mom at home, I've thought that about all my critters!

    Homestead lady, I'm in an area where everybody thinks everything is worth more than they ought! I did find what they call feeder pigs for less than $100, but by that time I was already talking to the lady I bought Pig from.

    Harry Flashman, I feel the same way!

    Mark, as usual, you are hitting the nail on the head! We seem to assume that bigger is better, but in farming, I'd say smaller is superior, especially for family operations. We homesteaders have different goals, so we are free from a lot of the pressures and techniques producers have. I like it better that way.

    Tina, thanks! And good to hear from you. :)

    Janet, thank you for that! Would love to know more about how you manage your hogs. I looked for a blog to return a visit too, but couldn't find a link. :(

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  23. Leigh, Donna over at MidlifeFarmwife.blogspot.com raises/sells red-wattle pigs exclusively. She lives in Illinois. Don't know how close that is to you. Hers is a wonderful blog. If you've not visited, now is a good time.

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  24. Hi, sorry I am not a blogger myself but I sure enjoy other peoples blogs about homesteading! not sure how to get you my email address without everybody getting it.:) i am not very tec savvy.:(
    We have our hogs in an small pasture with an electric fence around it. They are very smart and figure out and respect their boundaries very quickly! Then we move the fence when they have mowed the grass down to a manageable height. And we also have something similar to a chicken tractor (hog tractor):-)that we move around a few times a day to keep them on fresh grass. That seems to work really well! they do a great job of keeping the grass mowed! the do not require a ton of additional feed,so that is so nice. the taste and quality of their meat is amazing! they are so easy to handle too. holler PIG,PIG,PIG! and everybody comes running. so fun!!! hope we can chat more about it sometime!
    God bless

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  25. Kris, it was Donna who first recommended Red Wattles to me. :) She's nowhere near us, unfortunately. So glad to know you read her blog too.

    Janet, click on "view my complete profile" and on my profile page you'll find a link for my email. I have to say I love our little guinea hog and think it's a perfect homestead breed. So nice to meet someone with experience with them. Would definitely love to chat about them sometime. :)

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  26. Never heard of that breed, and what a cutie pie! I hope you find a girl friend :)

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