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Saving the Guinea Hogs
By Cathy Payne
"These were the best hogs I've ever seen," said seventy-five-year-old Cohen Archer. He grew up with the amiable black Guinea Hogs in Washington County, Georgia. Cohen’s father died when he was just twelve years old, in 1954. His mother subsequently sold the hogs, and Cohen did not see another one until he visited Cathy Payne's farm in 2017. 

Readers who love books about animals, southern history, or narrative nonfiction will find something of interest in this multi-faceted story. Breeders of Guinea Hogs or those wanting to learn more about the breed will be rewarded with rich details about genetic lines and those who began the American Guinea Hog Association. Homesteaders, sustainable farmers, and chefs will also gain an appreciation of the breed. 

This narrative nonfiction history tells the story of the Guinea Hog, also known as the American Guinea Hog, from 1930 to 2019. 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. It has long been a part of America’s cultural history, under a variety of local names. Due to a confluence of factors, it was nearly extinct by the 1990s. In this book, you will be introduced to these wonderful animals and learn about their characteristics, various names for them, culinary qualities, history, and color and size variations. 

The loss of any breed’s unique genetic material can leave the future of a species in peril. This book is the first definitive history of the Guinea Hog breed. It is a comprehensive overview of the people who raised Guinea Hogs in the past and in the present, told in their own words and through colorful stories. These first-person stories reveal the subjects’ deep fondness for and attachment to the amiable Guinea Hogs. Some recall a time when their families did not have access to electricity or indoor plumbing prior to the 1970s. 
The Guinea Hog was utilized head to tail, providing meat, lard, and grease to meet crucial family needs. 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 and reports their stories. Her diligent research over several years retraces the history of the Guinea Hogs while preserving the memories of those who kept them. Cathy conducted over fifty interviews with dozens of people formerly or currently involved with the Guinea Hogs. She obtained archival records from The Livestock Conservancy, a non-profit organization that had monitored and promoted the Guinea Hog since the 1980s. 

When Cathy’s research brought her in contact with rare genetic bloodlines not preserved during the formation of the American Guinea Hog Association (AGHA) in 2006, she worked with a network of women to obtain the genetics and work with the registry to add valuable genetic diversity to the national herd. 

You will learn about factors that led to the near extinction of this beloved breed and the story of several breeders who organized to save the breed by organizing the American Guinea Hog Association (AGHA.) Payne includes interviews with these breeders and also profiles the twelve hogs that formed the genetic foundation for the AGHA. 

Unraveling the history and what happened to known herds of breeders who didn't join the AGHA was a massive undertaking. This book documents Payne's efforts to work within the Genetic Recovery Project of the AGHA with help from a network of other women breeders to uncover missing genetics, find lost herds, and establish a database for future breeders using DNA technology to assist oral records. Finally, the author reflects on what has been learned and focuses on strategies to preserve these hogs for the future. These homestead hogs are survivors and worth preserving for future generations!