Annette Hesters began raising Guinea hogs in Walkerton, Indiana in 1987, using stock from Marcia Read of Old Orchard in Stockton Farm in Pennsylvania. After saving two gilts from her first boar, she replaced him with one from Dan and Shirley Hale in Plainwell, Michigan in 1993. One outside “Virginia” gilt was obtained from Donna Watkins in Lexington, Illinois in 1990. Annette then maintained a closed herd until 2005. Annette preferred smaller hogs that matured to under 150 pounds at age 3.
In 2000, Annette sold a trio of hogs to Matt DeLavega who lived in Ohio. He rented acreage from Grailville Farm and kept his Guinea Hogs there along with some Dexter Cattle. Matt’s friend Kenneth Bowman, nicknamed Chip, worked with a man in Goshen named Randy Setty. In 2001 Randy was looking for a barbecue pig. It so happened that DeLavega had decided Guinea Hogs were not what he needed. Kenneth was helping his friend Matt disperse his herd, and told Randy he could get him a barbeque hog. After some discussion, Randy agreed to take the trio and their offspring from one or two litters. The boar bred by Annette Hesters was named Black Bart. He was the sire of all the second generation pigs and future Setty pigs.
Randy bred the hogs for a year or two before selling them. Some went to Dodge Nature Center in St. Paul, some to Kevin Fall in Iowa, and some to Mark Celesky in Nebraska. There was one more sale of hogs that were transferred to Maveric farm. The hogs we know as “Setty Line” and “Celesky Line” were all just one generation away from Annette Hesters. Over the years they have changed due to generations of selection and access to grazing. Annette’s linebred hogs, obtained by Becky Mahoney in 2015, remained small. However, lines developed by Cascade Meadows’ Kirk Fackrell, Closer to the Land Farm, and others became very large. Other breeders selected large hogs produced from Hesters stock, as well. The foundation boar for all of these pigs was Hale Mork.
In 2005, Annette traded her Hale boar, Mork, a linebred sow, Petunia, Petunia’s sibling Peter, and Carlos to Arie McFarlen at Maveric Heritage Ranch. Annette received a Brothers bred boar from Arie out of DNC George and DNC Esmerelda’s litter born 07/26/2005 and two gilts sired by SCZ Bullwinkle. Possible dams for these gilts were Brothers Penny, Brothers Chunky 2, and Brothers Patti (Pearl). These were three litters farrowed in July 2005 that Arie had recently purchased from Stephen and Hollie Brothers in South Dakota. I determined through pedigree research that each of the pigs that were traded by Arie to Annette was either offspring or grand-offspring from Setty stock or Celesky stock. Since Randy and Mark’s pigs were just two generations removed from Annette Hesters, when Annette resumed breeding, her new hogs were still closely related to her herd.
In 2016, Annette transferred ownership of 11 hogs from her line 35+ years in the making to Becky Mahoney of Joyful Noise Home-N-Stead Farm in Macy, Indiana. These hogs were sired by the Maveric boar out of the Maveric girls. She also obtained an Old Read Sow that held bloodlines from Iggy and Ziggy, along with the Virginia gilt named Ginger. Becky maintained the herd during the AGHA’s Genetic Recovery process, tracking pedigrees, culling, and following strict selection procedures for temperament and to maintain the smaller size indicative of Hester’s stock. These hogs are now being dispersed throughout the country, along with the rich diversity of linebred bloodlines.
Kirk Fackrell at Cascade Meadows Farm in Sandy, Oregon purchased Hesters offspring in 2006 directly from Arie. Offspring from those pigs carry genetics from Read, “Virginia Ginger” (possibly Baylis), and Hale.
What did I learn from this Hesters update since I published my book in 2019? Celesky/Setty, and Hesters bloodlines are closely related and bred within a three-year window. Only Baylis Samson and Biggers Arthur were distantly related. The Maveric herd included Sumrall Bobbie Sue and Brown’s Blue Boy bloodlines, each unique, but Bobbie Sue was bred to DNC George, half Celesky (Hesters), and Blue Boy was bred to pigs with Hesters origins, as well. If you follow pedigrees back to the foundation stock, EVERY pig in the AGHA pedigrees will include a Hesters (Celesky/Setty) connection. The Hesters line is now over thirty years old, while other bloodlines have developed with different selection procedures. Annette liked her hogs small, and her stock remains at 140-150 pounds at maturity. In 2005, Don Oberdorfer wrote that “Guineas top out at about 200 lbs. This is not huge.” The breed description states that “Well-conditioned, fully adult American Guinea Hogs range from 150-300 pounds.” Many bloodlines now fifteen years removed from that written description now vary from that quite a bit. I find this very fascinating.
Author’s Note: Please contact Cathy to add your Hesters linebred hog(s) to the Gallery. Please return to this page, as profiles and photographs of the pigs not highlighted below will be added soon.