Several months back I had mentioned that we were considering the American Guinea Hog for our next pork source. I am also sure it was passed along that we did in fact get two. Both male and both reportedly about a year old when we bought them. I am also sure I passed along to you that I had some reservations even before we got them home.
They were small. I have grown accustomed to pigs weighing about 250 to 300 lbs. at a year. These were maybe a hundred pounds each. Short legged and barrel shaped with long black hair and short snouts. We had to build a make do ramp so they could walk up into the stock trailer. Probably not over 30″s from rump to chest. Not what I was accustomed to. I was looking at some Yorkshires a few days ago and they were at least 30 inches at the shoulder and long enough that they resembled a tractor trailer. And around 500 pounds with short sparse white hair. See what I mean? These were different.
Well we brought them home, managed to get their cute little short legged selves out of the trailer without breaking anything and have had them for about 3 months now. They have been fine and I have made a few observations about them. First off, they do graze well and are not excessive rooters. Oh they do root some but not like others I have had. We had a couple of Pot Belly and something cross a while back. There were times with them that all you could see was their rump sticking up out of the hole. No joke here. I still don’t have that mess cleaned up. The guinea hogs do graze when there is anything to graze on. They are easy to keep. All that time I spent getting the new hog pen just so was not necessary. http://hobbyfarmlife.com/hobby-farm-hog-pen-project/ The hot wire I strung has not been on once and they stayed right there. Never even thought about coming out that I am aware of. You do have to watch the amount of feed you give them. I was giving the pair a 2 lb. coffee can of cracked corn every day and they were packing on the fat big time so I cut it back to every other day and they did fine. Remained in good shape but not putting on lard that I can’t use anymore anyway. They are easy to handle as well. When I went in the yard to do whatever they were around your feet like a couple of big puppies. Now I had a Yorkshire-cross boar that was the same way even when grown. He weighed in at 6 to 700 pounds. Big boy!! He made me nervous following along at my heels. As gentle as could be but at that size you can be hurt you by accident. Just stepping on you will do it. These did that as well but it wasn’t nearly as uncomfortable.
Now let’s move on to the meat of the matter so to speak. We raise food not pets or even show stock. On Tuesday of this week I took the smaller one to a local processor to have him slaughtered and dressed. That is the first time I have EVER had this done. I have always did my own killing and dressing but the cost was low enough that the time I saved was worth it to me with all the other projects going on around here, Let him hang there to chill overnight and picked him up the next day. I brought him home just after noon and started cutting him up. I found the smaller size to be a two sided experience. When a say 300 pound hog is dressed you wind up with about 150 to 175 lbs. of warm slick meat to handle. Quartered it is still about 60 lbs. per quarter. Hot and slick and there are no handles on it plus you have to hang it in the cooler to chill out. My cooler is an old refrigerator that I stripped out. It works but it is awkward to get large pieces in and out of by yourself. And there is no way for someone else to help you. It is just to small for two people to work in. With the Guinea hog they were probably 25 lbs. each at the most. Already chilled and easier to handle by far.
This is probably a good time to remind you that this is just for Pauline and I. We are doing this to supply the two of us. Not a commercial operation where we are trying to make money and need volume to be profitable. SO? The smaller size is ok for just us. The first thing I noticed is that the chops are small. Now just like everyone else I have become accustomed to pork chops being the size of my hand, and I have been told I have large hands. So when I cut the first few chops off and they were not much larger than say the four fingers I was a little disappointed. But then I thought, well just eat another one Bob. You would do that with the larger ones too if you wanted more. I started paying more attention to the other aspects of the meat as compared to what you would get from the store or even what I have grown in the past. Due to the grazing there is a little more color to the meat. Not red like beef but not the white that is common with completely grain fed animals. There is marbling within the muscle. Little fine white lines and spots of fat within the muscle not just around it. There is a cap of fat outside that has to be removed and not used but that is my choice so I can have the marbling. Marbling at taste and juiciness. Both of which I enjoy. Everything was smaller but then the animal was smaller so it only makes sense. By about 3 o:clock I had it all cut and ready to be wrapped and the sausage made and I had even cleaned up before Pauline arrived home from work. A nice change considering that in the past I would spend most of one day just butchering and wrestling a three to four hundred pound animal around all day plus finding a place to dispose of the offal and waste that we didn’t want or need. Not getting caught doing it helped as well. The next day I would spend cutting and wrapping and cleaning up the mess from that. Another all day process. The third day was spent in the sausage making process which I enjoy as well but is still tiring if there is a lot of it. So all in all I guess I will have to say that the Guinea Hog was a more pleasurable experience for me. Smaller, easier to handle, faster to process and clean up from and not nearly so tiring. That tiring part is becoming more important as time goes along it seems.
OH YOU WANT TO KNOW IF WE TRIED THE MEAT!!! Of course we did. That is what this was all about. Good tasty pork. We had a couple of those small chops each for dinner that night. Pauline likes to salt and pepper it, she usually likes to pound it first, difficult with bone in though, a little olive oil in the pan and quickly (fry?) over medium heat until just cooked but still juicy. Were they good? OH YEAH! Better than that from a store? You bet. Better that what we have raised in the past? I think so! Flavorful juicy and tasty, especially considering they are more than a year old.
Come to think of it I want to Thank You. You allowing me top tell you about it helped me decide as to whether or not I would continue to raise the Guinea hog. The answer is yes. All things considered even the size meets out needs and that is what this is all about for us. Economically meeting our needs and giving us pleasure and a quality product in the process.
How about you? What are you looking for?
Bob Here; See you again soon I hope.