Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Pigs do fly!

A week ago Saturday we finally got our piglets! We purchased two American Guinea Hog piglets from a farm in New York and had them shipped to us via air cargo. They are so little that two of them fit into a medium sized dog crate. It was pretty fun to go pick up piglets at the airport!

We chose the Guinea Hog for many reasons. First, they are a rare, heritage breed with a very small number of individuals remaining in the country. They are a breed that originated here in the US and were at one time a very popular homestead pig. Like many heritage breeds, they fell out of favor with the advent of factory farming. They are a lard breed, which is also rare, but desirable to a sustainable farmer because the lard is useful for so many things in the kitchen and on the homestead. They are much smaller than a factory hog, with adults reaching 250-350 pounds. They also have much smaller litters, which is great for us because we have limited freezer capabilities being off the grid so fewer, smaller hogs to butcher means we freeze less meat at a time. They are known for their gentle disposition, easy farrowing, and tasty meat. Best of all they are excellent on pasture. They will graze the grass and don't root as much as other breeds, especially if they are rotated from one spot to another regularly. Still, they can be used to till up a garden if you leave them on it.

We have two females (gilts) to start with because a local friend already has a Guinea Hog boar we can use to breed them. Later we might get our own boar from a different genetic line.

Here they are just minutes out of the crate in a portable pen that we set up for them in our winter wheat paddock. They were chewing on grass before they even came all the way out of their crate!


anna said...

Piglets! I'm a vegetarian myself, but I find your approach to raising your own livestock very admirable. I hope they settle in well!

Danielle said...

OMG, they're so small! They're sooo cute. Are you guys loving them?

Jenny said...

They're pretty fun, although one of them has become quite nippy. She'd like to take my whole hand off when I'm giving her a treat. Yesterday I started working on training them a bit.

They are hilarious when we walk by the pen--throwing themselves against the side and squealing as if they are dying of starvation(they're not). They make the sheep seem downright polite!