The Guinea Hog, also known as the Guinea forest hog, the yard pig, the acorn eater and the Pineywoods Guinea, is a domestic breed of pig which now calls the US home.
The breed is thought to originate from stock hailing from the Guinea coast of West Africa and it is suggested that the breed is a relative of the African Guinea Hogs, though these are larger and red in colour. Other suggestions are that the Guinea hog may have the genetic influence of the Nigerian Black and Ashanti pig breeds. The breed was first introduced to the US via slave ships from Africa and some of the breed were purchases by Thomas Jefferson in 1804.
The original Guinea hogs to arrive in the US were mostly black, with a hint of red, which is why they were originally called red Guineas. This strain has been extinct since the start of the 19th century and were at the time, crossed with other breeds such as Essex pigs, West African dwarf pigs and Appalachian English Pig breeds. This led to the formation of what is now called the American Guinea hog, a smaller, black coloured pig. This was when the breed lost its red colour, though some specimens can be found with a red tint. Some completely red piglets have even been reported.
It was only in 2005 that the American Guinea Hog Association was formed to conserve the breed.
Primarily black in colour, the Guinea hog is a small and extremely rare breed.
A sturdy breed used both as pets and for meat production, the Guinea hog usually weigh under 90kgs at full maturity and yields up to 45kgs of meat and fat. The breed is not, however, generally used for commercial farming due to its small size and high-fat content.
Due to it being in danger of extinction, the Guinea hog features on the Slow Food USA’s Ark of Taste, which is a catalogue of heritage foods in danger of extinction. The meat from the Guinea hog has a unique flavour and is used to produce fine hams and tender meats. The fat from Guinea hog meats is used by chefs and butchers to make charcuterie, while pastry chefs use the lard for dough.
The breed is more popular with subsistence farmers because they forage for themselves and will even eat pests such as snakes! The breed are often called "grazing machines" and are best suited to grazing near wooded areas. They have actually seen a resurgence in popularity amongst smaller farmers since the 1980’s.
There are actually two different types of Guinea hog in North America, the small-boned and the large-boned. The difference is that the large-boned variations have longer legs. A docile breed, the Guinea hog have a curly tail and upright standing ears and are often kept as pets due to their temperament.
Originally found with tinges of red and hailing from the West African Coast, the Guinea Hog made its way to the US on slave ships in the 1800’s, where it is thankfully, still going strong to this day.
Picture Credit - CropMobster Sacramento