Saving the Guinea Hogs by Cathy R. Payne

Saving the Guinea Hogs: The Recovery of an American Homestead Breed, is the first definitive history of the Guinea Hog. It is a comprehensive overview of the people who raised Guinea Hogs from 1940 to 1995, told in their own words and colorful stories. Some recall a time when their families did not have access to electricity or indoor plumbing. The Guinea Hog was utilized head to tail, providing meat, lard, and grease to meet crucial family needs.

The Guinea Hog is a small, black, hairy, sturdy, and gentle breed of hog kept in the southeastern United States prior to the Civil War. The Guinea Hog has long been a part of America’s cultural history. Due to a confluence of factors, it was nearly extinct by the 1990s. Guinea Hogs, like most heritage breeds were tailor-made to fit their corner of the earth and thrive in a specific environment. Their dark skin and black hair protect them from over exposure from intense southern sunshine. In spite of their history, they have been remarkably adaptable to conditions in the northeast, midwest, southwest, west coast, and northwest. The breed is exclusive to the continental United States.

Around 2004 a group of dedicated conservation breeders encouraged by The Livestock Conservancy stepped forward to save the Guinea Hogs. Cathy Payne interviewed many of the breeders who made this effort and reports their stories in her first book. It is an easy and interesting read that is information-dense.

Cathy takes what she has learned from her contacts with these breeders and focuses on strategies to preserve this breed and its distinct family bloodlines. These homestead hogs are survivors worth preserving for future generations. Heritage breeds are living time capsules and unique genetic packages that could be the key to the future of agriculture in a world with climate change occurring at a rate never seen before.

We protect our National Parks for future generations and save our historic buildings as part of our local culture. Our heritage livestock breeds also need our protection and preservation. They are part of our national treasure and local culture. Each generation must renew their commitment for preservation so these animals survive and thrive one hundred years in the future. Currently, at least twenty-six percent of the world’s local livestock breeds are at risk, and only seven percent of all breeds are secure. The status of the Guinea Hogs is far from secure without dedicated breeders using specific strategies to conserve the genetics as they currently exist. Non-breeders can join The Livestock Conservancy, purchase Guinea Hog meat, and donate to this website to help with preservation efforts.

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