Thursday, November 26, 2009

Putting American Guinea Hog Back on the Table

Rare breed heritage farm animals are a valuable genetic resource, and, to maintain this resource, the animals must remain a part of the food chain. I know it sounds weird, but if these animals aren't valued as a food source, they will go extinct. We raise American Guinea Hogs (a small heritage breed hog) to help preserve the breed, put excellent meat on our own table, and eventually to sell to the general public. This Thanksgiving we ate our first Guinea Hog - a 1-year old female feeder that we obtained from a fellow breeder.

Processing a hog takes a good part of a day. We started at 7am and were done with the majority of the work and clean up around 2pm. We ground breakfast sausage and stuffed bratwurst the next day, and we'll be smoking our bacon next week.



The following is a breakdown of how we process a hog at Bluefield Acres, and, if you click below, you'll also find a slideshow of the slaughtering and butchering we did on Wednesday. The pictures aren't for everyone, so proceed with caution. The slideshow starts with the scalding.

Processing a Hog - CLICK FOR SLIDESHOW
Isolate hog and do not feed for 24 hours
Shoot hog in head with .22 LR
Cut and bleed the jugular
Scald hog in water at 150 degrees until hair pulls out easily
Scrape hair until skin is clean
Wash carcass
Gut hog
Remove head and feet
Butcher into desired pieces of meat

We got approximately 50 pounds of boneless meat off our Guinea Hog - tenderloins, loins, 3 small roasts, fatback, bacon, sausage and bratwurst. Plenty of meat to fill a small family freezer. Below are the ribs. We ate them on Thanksgiving, and they were the best ribs I've ever had by far.


Things that we learned
1. Guinea Hogs get enough salt by foraging that the meat doesn't need to be salted as much as other pork.
2. Due to their free range diet, Guinea Hog meat is much redder than standard pork and more flavorful.
3. Lard from free range Guinea Hogs won't solidify easily. This is because it is low in saturated fat - grain fed meat is high in saturated fat, forage fed meat has very little. We had to freeze the lard Scott rendered to firm it up.
4. Biscuits made from pork lard are yummy. The biscuit on the left was made with lard and the one on the right was made with butter. The biscuits may not look different (and both are delicious), but the lard biscuit had a lovely bacon flavor all by itself. The sausage in the picture is ours, and it was absolutely wonderful! Guinea hog sausage has a strong meaty flavor that we found fantastic.


For a full description of our Thanksgiving meal, check out our next post.

11 comments:

  1. Thank you for your nice posting.
    it is really helpful to us.
    such a nice topics.

    Bathmate

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  2. I just found your blog, and am enjoying your excellent posts about your Guinea Hogs. I'm getting my first Guinea Hogs (2 sows and a boar) this weekend, and am very excited.

    My farm is in central Virginia. I currently raise Icelandic sheep. If you're curious, here's my farm website (http://inglesideicelandics.com) and blog: (http://keepingthefarm.blogspot.com)

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  3. Thanks for sharing your experiences with guinea hog meat. I'm getting ready to switch over from summer hamp feeders to guinea breeding stock and was looking for yield info on the guineas- Thanks!

    I'm in eastern Kansas and have a blog at bluestemfarm.blogspot.com if you're interested. I'll check back here, too.

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  4. Very nice post! Is there a specific reason you decided to scald as opposed to skinning? I'm very excited to get a boar and sow of this breed! I gotta tell you I'm lusting after that fat.......LOL!

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  5. Bacon! You gotta leave the skin on for that. We smoke our own, and it's fantastic. The fat on guinea hogs is absolutely devine, although pature raised pork is often so low in saturated fat that the lard won't harden completely. Scott rendered fat on the hog in this post, then put it in the freezer to harden it. We're still using it over a year later. We skinned the next hog we slaugtered because it was summer and the heat limited the time we felt comfortable processing the meat. We'll be scalding again this time. Can't wait to eat that bacon again. It truly puts store bought to shame.

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  6. Do you sell the hogs yet? I will be able to purchase pigs within the next year and would love to find a breeding pair as close to North Ga as possible.

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  7. Yes, we do sell them and I also know of a breeder in GA who could probably help you out.

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  8. We are in our second year with this breed. This will be our first year butchering. I have heard that the males do NOT need to be castrated that there is not a strong "boar scent" Have you ever butchered a boar?

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  9. We have found that the boar taint starts at about 2 years and try to slaughter before the males are much over a year old to avoid it. We do not castrate anymore but have in the past. We no longer feel any rush to do so.

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  10. Thank you so much for your quick reply. If you don't mind, I have another question. ( or 2 ) My male is running about 400+ and my female MAYBE 250. I am scared he will hurt her eventually. ( He was this big when we got him) He is I believe, 4 yrs old. Should I castrate him and butcher or put him on a diet? They share the same area.... but I could separate them if needed. They have lived together all their lives....so far. If I castrate him and butcher later, will the "taint" still be in the meat? Can I breed her to one of her sons?

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  11. He could very well hurt her. Our first boar, who was around 400 lbs, hurt one sow's hip and leg rather badly. You could castrate him and the boar taint would disappear about 6 months after the castration. I can't imagine castrating a boar that big and the meat might be a bit stringy. If you do it, I'd plan to put all the meat into sausage. As for a diet, if he's too fat he won't breed successfully so you could also go that way. Ask the American Guinea Hog Association about the breeding rules. Guinea Hogs are a critically endangered breed, so this may be acceptable.

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