Breed Status: Threatened
American Guinea Hogs
They're "JUST RIGHT"
Gentle, medium-sized pigs.
Readily adapt to their surroundings.
Able to thrive on the roughest of forages and leftover food scraps.
Successfully breed and give birth without assistance.
Delicious, mouth-watering meat.
Versatile, nutritious, highly-prized lard.
Once upon a time, not so very long ago, Guinea Hogs could be found on a majority of Southeastern U.S. farms and homesteads.
Early on, they were known by many different names, including Acorn Eaters, Yard Pigs, Guinea Forest Hogs, and Piney Woods Hogs. These names described their common living environments and habitats, as well as how the pigs were managed. They were a true landrace breed and, as such, were characterized more for their ability to thrive and adapt to their regional surroundings while reliably providing an affordable, local food source for small farmer/homesteader families than by any highly-uniform physical appearance (type).
Image taken from the Southern Cultivator, published in 1850.
Many of these hogs lived in close proximity to the homesteaders who cared for them and, over time, were selectively bred for gentle temperaments and manageability.
During the 18- and early 1900s, records seem to indicate that the coarser, native Guinea Hogs, were likely improved through cross-breeding with the more-refined swine breeds of the day. The Essex and Berkshire breeds are commonly mentioned as two of these "improving" breeds.
These improved Guinea Hogs included the two Guinea Hog types (referred to as "big and small or little guineas, and also as big bone and little bone" guineas). Both types were thrifty, hardy, manageable lard hogs, but they differed in rate-of-growth, overall size, and bone thickness.
Advertisement Images taken from General Farm Legislation Hearings, 1937
Image taken from Yearbook of the Department of Agriculture of the State of South Carolina, 1955-1956
This breeder even found evidence that a Big Bone Guinea Hog Registration Association existed in 1954.
The search for further information on this organization continues.
By the mid-1950s, lard, once considered a valuable commodity, was no longer appreciated. Synthetic oils were being developed and a modern preference for fast-growing, larger hogs and leaner meat emerged which caused the Guinea Hog to fall from favor. Eventually, the total number of living Guinea Hogs fell to less than 200 and the Livestock Conservancy added the breed to their list of critically endangered livestock.