*Guinea Pigs as Survival Livestock*
The Guinea Pig experiment is at an end - sort of. As a refresher, I was toying with the idea of raising Guinea Pigs as a survival food - easy to keep indoors, small, quiet, easy to conceal, etc. This is the result of my findings before investing a lot of time, energy and expense in the project.
I dressed out the largest of the guinea pigs - one of the ones I got for free. Live weight just over 1 pound.
Unlike reports that there is no fat associated with guinea pigs, I certainly found fat on this one. But then, I have no idea how old he was nor how carefully he had been fed prior to my getting him. Last 3 weeks the diet was free-choice rabbit pellets, alfalfa cubes and a 12" section of corn leaves and stalk from my garden every other day. Of course, this was shared between 4 of them.
The pelt does not peel away as easily as with a rabbit. One mark against raising GP right off the bat.
There is more cleaning involved to get all the membrane and fat off the hide as well. When "rinsed" the hair does not stay with the hide as well as it does with that of a rabbit. Second mark against the GP.
The hide is very soft - almost like a fine leather. Better than that of a rabbit. Does have possibilities for a finer garment which may well mirror the same uses as fine leather. A mark in it's favor. When stretched, the hide is nearly transparent - with many hairless areas. This is going to be hard to use for warm garments in a state with harsh winters. Third mark against them. There are options other than warmth when it comes to garments, though. My thoughts run along the lines of a baby's light blanket, pillows, stuffed animals, gardening gloves or perhaps a parka.
The meat had pockets of fat that were more difficult to remove than that from a rabbit. Third mark against it.
Entrails were very compact and effortlessly removed. Second mark in it's favor.
Meat was not as plentiful as I had hoped. Fourth mark against it. And many more bones entwined with the meat than with a rabbit. Fifth mark against it.
I debated about the method cooking the meat. I knew that guinea pig is often thought of as dry - from lack of fat. Since I had intentionally removed the fat, knew better than to grill it. I chose to simmer it in a crock pot with broth. Although I don't think the type of broth matters, I used canned chicken broth.
After three hours, I had my first taste test. Better than anticipated! I expected it to taste like rabbit, but it didn't. It would never pass for chicken, either. Very sweet, very tender - in all, a very nice meat. I can see where it would be served as a delicacy and demand a hefty price. It's very nice. The taste test is a big mark in its favor.
I then added other ingredients (my standard recipe for roadkill stew - affectionately dubbed "Roadkill Helper") to make my week's worth of meals:
2 cans mushroom gravy
1 can mixed vegetables
2 cans broth (in addition to the one already in the crock pot)
1 can sweet corn
1 can peas
1 can mushrooms
2 cans sliced potatoes
2 cups dry spaghetti
2 cups chopped onions
4 T seasoned salt
1/4 cup chili powder
1 T parsley
1 T paprika
The cuy (GP) was already in the pot I simmered this on low overnight and had a hearty breakfast of cuy stew.
The finished stew is thick, has a meaty flavor and is seasoned to suit my taste. But those little bones I missed are a PITA!
After everything is said and done, cuy is a delicious meat - but not plentiful enough to make it worth the effort in raising them as a survival livestock. The same result could be attained with the bones of any poultry, small game or roadkill. The hide, however, has possibilities. If the sewing part does not pan out, the GP is still a good bet for the pet industry prior to any SHTF issues.
I think it is only fair to mention that there is less cannibalism among guinea pigs. Babies are born with their eyes open - and they go straight from the womb to the food dish Their rate of production is faster, but again, less meat than a rabbit,
When money, food and durable garments count, rabbits and chickens have proven their value to homesteaders time and again. I'll go with what I know works.
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