This weekend we brought home piglets to the homestead! We picked up our very first litter of American guinea hog crossed with Kunekune hog piglets! This is our first year raising piglets on the homestead and we are excited to not only raise our own pork but also use them to create new pasture on our once tree-covered hillside.
Meet the Piglets!
We have 7 new pigs on the homestead. Six are American Guinea Hog and Kunekune crosses and one is a full breed American Guinea Hog who is from an earlier litter. Since there are seven pigs, it seems only fitting to name them after the seven dwarfs: Doc, Sleepy, Dopey, Grumpy, Happy, Bashful, Sneezy, and Sleepy. They are adjusting well to their new home and becoming braver every day at feed time.
What’s an American Guinea Hog?
The American Guinea Hog is a small breed that is popular on homesteads because of its size, temperament, and meat. Raising smaller hogs makes them easier to manage. They require less feed or pasture, they’re easier to move and easier to harvest on the homestead. An American Guinea Hog is roughly a 12-month commitment and will give you 60-80 pounds of pork. This breed also produces a large amount of lard which made it very popular back in the late 19th and early 20th centuries when lard was a cooking staple. When people stopping cooking with lard, the American Guinea Hog drastically declined in popularity and its breed almost went away entirely. Now with the increased popularity of raising your own food, sustainability, and homesteading the American Guinea Hog is making a comeback.
What’s a Kunekune Hog?
This breed originates from New Zealand. It is a small breed that is characterized as fat and round. Unlike the American Guinea Hog, the KuneKune Hog does not root up the ground as much because they have an upturned snout. As a result, this breed is a better pasture hog. They are well known for their sweet and mild temperaments which makes them a great homesteading hog because they are easy to manage and relatively safe around children. One of their most predominate features are their tassels. The tassel or pire is hair that hangs off their lower jaw like a wattle.
Why Would You Want a Small Breed Hog?
Hogs are powerful animals. They are nature’s rototillers. They root up the ground with their strong noses which can be very beneficial on a homestead for a variety of reasons. However, if you have a 700-800 pound breeding boar, you have to have the equipment to manage it properly and know how to manage it safely. A large breed hog whether its a sow or a boar can be very dangerous if you don’t have the right knowledge or tools. That is why many homesteaders are raising small breed hogs like the American Guinea Hog. They produce a nice amount of pork for a family, they give you lots of quality lard, they’re easier to manage, and they are great rooters and grazers. Grass fed pork and lard is flavorful and nutrient dense!
Our Plan for the Piglets
When we moved onto our homestead, the hill on the backside of the property was completely overgrown with trees and weeds. Over the past 10 months, David has been cutting down trees and making burn piles. Now that the hill is cleared enough to put up a proper fence, we will be fencing the hill and creating multiple paddocks to rotate the hogs through. It is our hope that they will turn up the soil, fertilize the land, and this time next year we will see some grass on the hill. In addition to running the hogs on the hill, we will be running on the chickens on the hill to help fertilize and encourage grass to grow as well. Then around the end of the year, we will be harvesting the hogs and stocking up our freezer, and sharing with our friends.
But for now that are living in their main pen adjusting to their new home. In the picture above your can see our six little piglets and our one older piglet. While we can’t tell the littles apart at the moment, we’ve dubbed the big one as Doc.
Our New Puppy!
In other news, the pigs are not the only new addition, we also welcomed Reggie to our family just a few weeks ago. He is an Australian Shepard. Reggie loves farm life and he and Shelby are best buds. He enjoys watching the piglets on the homestead, hanging out with the chickens, and visiting with the cows.
Spring on the the Homestead
Besides piglets and a new puppy, spring on the homestead has involved a lot of clearing trees and weeds. We’ve has a couple of bonfires and mowed our lawn for the first time this weekend. In the weeks ahead we will be preparing for baby chicks, building more fences, adding to our cow herd, and prepping the garden!
Don’t Forget to Check Out Our Recipes
I am looking forward to planting my garden and cooking with fresh veggies again soon! You can check out some of my recipes over on the Food from Scratch menu.