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.
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:
- The American Livestock Conservancy Heritage Pig Breed Comparison Chart
- Raising American Guinea Hogs: Fencing, Housing, Food and Water by Quartz Ridge Ranch