American Guinea Hog
The Guinea Hog swine is unique to the United States. It is a small, black hog that was common on homesteads across the Southeast until the early 1900’s. On the farm the Guinea Hogs foraged for their food; they ate rodents, snakes, grass, roots, nuts and garden debris. This foraging animal was easy to maintain and produced hams, bacon, and lard essential for subsistence farming. As homestead farming dwindled the Guinea Hog disappeared in all but a few isolated areas of the southeast. In 1980 a new herd was established and the Guinea Hogs at Palmer Farms are the registered linage of this herd.
Guinea Hogs are small, bluish-black pigs with bristly hair. The hogs weigh between 100 and 300 lbs. They thrive foraging on pasture or in wooded areas and their small size is gentler on the land than larger hog breeds. Guinea Hogs are very intelligent and have a gentle temperament.
Guinea hog meat is tender with has a unique, nutty flavor and the creamy fat is plentiful producing exceptional hams, bacon and chops.
The Icelandic Sheep were introduced to Iceland by early Viking settlers in 900AD. As Iceland does not allow the import of any sheep, the Icelandic breed has remained pure and is likely the oldest breed of domestic sheep in the world. Genetically the sheep remains the same as it was 1100 years ago. Palmer Farms’ Icelandic sheep are registered purebred sheep with direct lineage to ram stock in Iceland.
The meat of an Icelandic sheep is fine grained, tender, high in Omega-3 fatty acids and the taste will reflect the grass and the aromatic herbs on which it has grazed. The wool of the Icelandic breed has a soft undercoat called thel and a long course, water repellent outer coat called tog. The combination of these two fibers from the Icelandic sheep makes their wool highly sought after.
Icelandic sheep have wonderful personalities; they are smart, alert, fast of foot and very individualistic. Since they are not strongly driven to flock they are comfortable spreading out across sparse pasture. This breed has survived a thousand years on pasture making them great browsers of both brush and wild grasses. We believe that as we move away from grain based agriculture, the genetics of the Icelandic breed will become even more important to the sheep industry.
Dorset Cross (X)
Palmer Farms maintains a flock of DorsetX sheep that came from Randle Farms in Auburn, Alabama. The sheep’s genetic foundation is the Polled (hornless) Dorset breed and they have been crossed with a selection of other breeds to improve meat quality, lambing and animal size.
The Polled Dorsets originated at North Carolina State College in 1956. The breed was selected as a genetic base for the Randle sheep due to the following characteristics. The Dorset is a medium sized sheep with ewes weighing around 175 lbs. while rams reach 250 lbs. The Dorset sheep is one of the few sheep which can breed twice a year. The ewes are good mothers, good milkers and multiple births are common. Although Dorsets have a strong, white fleece they are valued more for their meat than their wool.