The Problem of Raising American Guinea Hogs in Canada

Deciding to raise these pigs was an easy choice, as being an non-industrialised heritage breed, the breed had lots of pros like an easy personality, easy natural birthing, good mothering abilities, drool-worthy meat… and coupled with it’s small size for beginning farmers like ourselves?  Well, that was a win.

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Parma (left) and Pancetta (right) – Our first American Guinea Hogs, enjoying the sun

Finding stock in Canada however proved difficult, and continues to prove difficult.  As it is a heritage animal, but isn’t registered in Canada, that makes it challenging.  Importation from the United States is not only costly, but so is the mandatory 30 day quarantine.  And of course, if you import pigs from different genetic pools, i.e., not all from the same litter.. well, the cost increases.

So what am I hoping for?  To find other farmers in Canada with this wonderful animals of course!  But first a word of warning…

I write this not as a scare tactic, but as a cautionary tale when it comes to purchasing livestock.  We had already purchased our two female pigs, Parma and Pancetta, and were searching for a boar.   We had found someone whom was selling them at a farm three hours north of us, so off I went.  When I arrived, I found the seller with numerous different breeds of pigs on his farm, some looking in unhealthy shape.  Although there were  different breeds on the property, the farmer assured me that the piglets were American Guinea Hogs, and the mother was looking the way she did due to several other litters nursing from her as well.  She was rail thin, and several other of the pigs had a heavy white crust over their skin.  There were apples on the ground, but the pigs just weren’t eating them.  I made the mistake of not listening to my gut, and purchased a male piglet and took him home.

Our little new boar, Prosciutto, was great.  He was a healthy eater, and grew quickly.  However we did discover that he had come with an unwelcome gift – mange.  And of course we hadn’t quarantined him when he arrived – which meant he also passed on mange to our two girls.  After learning all about mange, I realized that this was what the white crust was on the other pigs at that farm, and why some of the pigs were so thin.  Eradicating mange is not easy either, nor an enjoyable task, but we finally think we have it beat.

When Prosciutto was about 9 months old, we had finally come to terms with the fact that he wasn’t an American Guinea Hog.  He was only about 80 pounds, and that was being generous.  He didn’t look like an American Guinea Hog either – more like a cross of some kind with a potbellied pig.  Luckily for us, we were able to purchase a fellow farmer’s American Guinea Hog boar, whom we think is a beautiful specimen, and her sow that was originally the sister of our two girls!

I’m looking for fellow breeders of this animal, or people interested in the American Guinea Hog, so at the very least, we can have a group of us that at least can vouch for each other that our stock is legit, can establish a healthy breeding program here in Canada, and perhaps start up a National registry of our own.  Sounds like a plan?

If you are in Canada, and own an American Guinea Hog, I’d love to hear about it!