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In 2017, I read an article written by Alison Martin, PhD, Executive Director of The Livestock Conservancy, and Jeannette Beranger, Senior Program Manager of The Livestock Conservancy. Their article emphasized the importance of selection of swine stock, and listed several factors that impacted genetics. I had been thinking about this topic for several years, so arranged a phone interview with Jeannette to get specific and teachable ideas. She mentioned a card grading process, and suggested that the best method for a landrace breed such as the Guinea hog would be development of a matrix. To help me visualize a breeding matrix, she sent me a copy of Dr. Phil Sponenberg’s matrix for Colonial Spanish horses. To complete this matrix, I went to the American Guinea Hog Association’s (AGHA) breed description first. From there, I formed the “typical” column. From interviews with J. Frank Baylis (Baylis VA Samson), John Ross Jr.(Setty MC), Shirley Sullivan (Baylis VA Samson), Gary Sumrall (Sumrall Bobby Sue), and Annette Hesters (Hesters herd) and my own observations of line bred hogs from their breeding lines, I developed descriptions of traits still acceptable but “atypical.” Undesirable traits also came from the AGHA breed description. Desirable traits came from the AGHA description as well as general swine husbandry. The matrix, like the breed description, is not a set of standards, but a guideline to inform the breeder. It is descriptive but not descriptive. A tool rather than a suggestion. The breeder’s knowledge, observations, and desires will impact choices made when selecting breeding stock.
After I developed the initial matrix, I emailed a copy to Jeannette Beranger. She, in turn, forward it to Alison Martin, Charlene Couch, PhD, Livestock Conservancy Program Coordinator, and D. Phillip Sponenberg, Technical Advisor for The Livestock Conservancy. They each gave their input, which I took into consideration for the completed matrix.
The matrix consists of two heavy stock 8.5″ x 11″ laminated cards that can be carried to the field when observing either newborn piglets, young shoats, or breeding sows and boars. Traits delineated include the head, conformation, temperament, teats, tails, hair texture, hair color, sexual and mothering characteristics. It also gives you a usage guide and specific characteristics from several founder hogs.
A wholesale discount is provided for multiple copies (5 or more) that you can gift to your breeding stock customers as a premium service or sell at retail for addtional farm revenue. For wholesale pricing, contact Cathy at firstname.lastname@example.org or via the website contacts page.