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Miniature Pigs: The Guinea Hog
The Guinea Hog, also known by several other titles, is a rare and threatened breed of pig. Their history dates back to the American slave trade when these pigs were brought from Africa. Over the next 200-300 years they were crossed with other European pig breeds to create a small meat and lard animal standing 15-20 inches tall and weighing in at 150-250 pounds full grown. They are always black but occasionally will have white feet or some hint of red or gray on them. Their ears stand erect, they have shaggy fur, and their tails are curly.
These pigs were much favored in the past by small farms where their meat production was just large enough to consume rapidly, without having to store the leftovers (which was hassle before the advent of the refrigerator!) These pigs were also expected to act friendly and docile towards humans but be vicious vermin and snake killers, providing a safe yard for people and other livestock. They also grew well by eating the most minimal of feeds they foraged for themselves.
Historically there's some debate about how old the Guinea Hog breed is. There are records of Red Guinea Hogs dating back to early 1800's but this color variation went extinct and now there's some confusion about whether or not they were the same pig in a different color or a totally separate breed.
By the 1980s Guinea Hogs were all but extinct except for a few isolated populations in the Southeast US. A recovery program was started and a register was created to preserve the breed. Farmers again started to breed them, sometimes in response to the booming pet pig market that was all the rage at the time. Their numbers are still considered critical by the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy.
A Note of Thanks
All photos in this article are courtasey of Cascade Meadows Farm in Oregon. If these pigs are of interest to you please visit their website at: http://www.cascademeadowsfarm.com/