Deciding what breed of hog you want may be the hardest part. There are so many breeds and they all have their benefits and drawbacks. After researching, reading, and watching many videos, we decided that American Guinea Hogs (AGH) seemed to be the best fit for our little homestead. Once we figured this out, the rest seemed to begin falling into place.
I saw an ad on Facebook for a herd of AGH pigs. The seller was getting rid of his herd because he was moving 4 hours from the current farm and wouldn’t be able to take them with him. There were several ages available. We missed out on the youngest 3 month old pigs because we hadn’t built our shelter yet. (A future post on the shelter and my husbands amazing drawings for it will be available later) Once we finished the shelter, I contacted the seller again and arranged to view the 5 month old pigs. We set up the fence, got our supplies, and headed over to check them out.
What happened next could be seen as a mistake, we aren’t sure yet.
We drove about an hour away, and by the time we got there, it was already dark. The barn had some lighting, but not much, so we were using our phone flash lights in order to see. The man led us to a stall where there were approximately 10-15 five month old pigs of different sizes. We had already told them we wanted a gilt (female) and barrow (castrated male), so he pointed them out.
Everything I have read about the American Guinea Hog breed has said how wonderfully docile (gentle) they are. The man claimed that these pigs were just scared because he had already been in there once that day removing some for another buyer. That seemed like a decent excuse. However, did you know a pig can jump? I didn’t. The man corralled them into one corner, then another, chasing them around this 16×16 stall. The pigs were leaping over feed bowls, water containers, and each other. This was our first “maybe we should re-think this” moment.
After a few moments of a fairly comical ordeal, he pinned one into a corner with a piece of plywood, and grabbed it by it’s legs. I don’t know how you normally carry a pig, but this guy handed Kevin the pig upside down being held by the front and back leg. I felt awful for it, and we quickly went to the van to put it into the kennel we brought with us. As we were walking, it pooped all over Kevin’s arm. Poor guy. Once we got it in the van, the man brought the other pig and we put it in the kennel with the first one. We chatted for a moment, then we left. By the time we got home it was 8:30, so we sent the kids inside to get ready for bed while we got the pigs into their new home.
The pigs burrowed themselves into the straw and we closed the door. After what we witnessed at the farm, we decided that the electric fence may not be enough, so we put an old dog kennel around their shelter, inside of the electric fence until we could both be there to train them to the electric fence. This was a very good move.
The next morning, I put their water out, set out some hay, sprinkled their food on the ground, and let them out – fully expecting two wild hogs to ambush me. Thankfully, that didn’t happen. The pigs were adorably snuggled together in the straw, and it took me leaving the kennel for them to come out. They were absolutely scared to death of me, and wouldn’t come near me, so I stayed away from their food, but still stayed near to watch them eat and get them used to me.
Later that afternoon, I came back out with food scraps. Though they were still very afraid of me, they were quite happy that I come bearing food and allowed me to sit inside the kennel while they ate. While I watched, I realized – wow… this girl is quite a bit bigger than the boy. I have a feeling she may have been a bit of a bully, and he may have been a runt. We couldn’t see their sizes when they were at the farm, so we really didn’t know what we were getting. I have tried to make sure the boy gets food in a separate spot while the girl eats so he gets his fair share. She still tends to finish early and come after his, but I think they are doing okay.
We were really happy to see that they were back in their shelter that night and we were able to close them up. There are coyotes nearby and we aren’t confident the electric fence will keep them safe while they are still small, so I am hoping we can continue to shut them up – at least for a while.
I’ll post how the rest of the week went in another post and let you know how the fence training went, and if they have calmed down any.