Ossabaw Island Hogs

About Maveric Ossabaw Island Hogs:

We came to owning Ossabaws through the Hildebrandts and other breeders in Wisconsin. We had heard of the difficulties in working with Ossabaws, their temperament and lack of meat (due to their rangy physique and small size).

We were concerned about the viability of the Ossabaws and that their numbers were continuing to diminish. Restrictions that would not allow any importations of pigs from the island, coupled with the small carcass weights did not give many farmers incentive to raise these pigs, and there were few available to those who were interested.

We soon discovered that the University of Missouri still had several Ossabaws from an early importation, and we were able to purchase additional animals through their program. Additionally, Purdue has a large herd of Ossabaws, being used for research in the medical field. For a few years, we hosted a herd of Ossabaws from Purdue at our farm, to serve as a backup herd and to protect the health and biosecurity of the breed.

The Ossabaws received a boon after the publication of Peter Kaminsky’s wonderful book, Pig Perfect: Encounters with Remarkable Swine and Some Great Ways to Cook Them. Kaminsky applauded the wonderful flavor or the Ossabaw and it’s rich Spanish history.

Today, we maintain a very small herd of Ossabaws. We supply individual animals to breed preservation and reenactment parks as well as zoos.

Our Ossabaws are typical in disposition, a little high strung and ultra protective as mothers. The piglets are tenacious and curious, venturing outside their pens within a few days of birth. Tame is a relative word when it comes to Ossabaws. The males seem to take better to human interaction, and even appreciate it, while the females remain stand-offish even after years of interaction.

Our Ossabaws represent the full color spectrum, black, black and white belted, spotted, red, and fringed. Many of the piglets are born with primitive marking (stripes) that fade as they mature into weanlings.

If you would like to add Ossabaw Island Hogs to your farm, please email us for more information and availability.

From The American Livestock Breeds Conservancy:

The hogs of Ossabaw Island, off the coast of Georgia, are descendants of Spanish pigs brought to the New World over 400 years ago. They were small range pigs with prick ears, heavy coats and long snouts. Over time, some of the Spanish pigs escaped and became feral in southeastern forests. While most feral pigs eventually mixed with domestic pigs, the Ossabaw Island animals are an exception, having remained a distinct and isolated population. Thus they reflect their Spanish heritage more closely.

As the pigs adapted to Ossabaw Island, they became yet smaller, a process called “insular dwarfism.” They also had to adapt to the food cycle on the island, which provides little to eat during the spring season. As an adjustment, the Ossabaw Island hogs developed a unique biochemical system of fat metabolism, enabling them to store a larger proportion of fat than any other hog. In conjunction with this, they have a form of low-grade, non-insulin depend diabetes, making them excellent medical research animals. They have been studied for over a decade at the University of Georgia and other institutions.

The unique qualities of the Ossabaw Island hogs do not limit their uses for traditional production. Although in the wild they are smaller than other pigs, with pregnant sows weighting less than 100 pounds, Ossabaws grow much larger in captivity. Colors include black, spotted black and white, red and tan.

It is currently not possible to import animals directly from Ossabaw Island due to quarantine restrictions. Small breeding groups of Ossabaw Island hogs, descendants of animals brought from the island during the 1970′s, can be found on the mainland. Offspring of these animals are available from time to time from individual breeders.

The Ossabaw Island hog population is classified as Critical by the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy. The ALBC estimates there are fewer than 200 available in mainland breeding programs, although many more animals can still be found on the island itself.