Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Tastes like dark rabbit meat....

(not your pet but a 7lb large Peruvian breed)

The high protein and high concentration of B vitamins found in meat make it an ideal part of the diet, very difficult to replace by plant foods, even with grain legumes that are nutritionally the closest plant foods to meat. Yet production of meat on the small farm almost dictates a way of life with several disadvantages. If small animals are raised in pens they usually require purchased concentrates or grains used for the family, at least as part of the diet. If allowed to roam freely they make it impossible to maintain a dooryard vegetable garden, and make good hygiene difficult. Furthermore, if the family cannot eat the entire animal at one meal, refrigeration is required or other preservation techniques.

The guinea pig or cavy, Cavia porcellus, is a rodent that was domesticated in the Andes as a source of meat. Because it is a small animal it can be eaten by a small family in one meal and does not require refrigeration. It is herbivorous and becomes accustomed to many sorts of feed. The meat is much like rabbit, and is low in fat content. Furthermore, the cavy multiplies rapidly, but not at the rate that folk literature would suggest. With breeding as recommended here, one pair of cavies could produce about 260 new pairs in 2 years. Because of these characteristics the cavy should be tried widely as a source of meat for the household as well as to sell.

Nevertheless, production of cavies requires a year-round source of herbaceous feed. To some extent the feed can be supplied as hay during the dry season or even as purchased alfalfa pellets (rabbit food), or stored roots and tubers can be used. The cavy does not normally eat cooked foods from the table but will eat some of the scraps from uncooked fruits and vegetables. More details of feeds for cavy are given later.

While the cavy is often produced almost by neglect, good housing is highly desirable. This includes provisions for maintaining cavies separated by sex and age (see later). Furthermore, cavies do have their parasites and diseases, best avoided by adequate housing.

Read the rest of the article...
(small PDF)

Read, too, about:

The Great-Granddaddy of Guinea Pigs
...a guinea pig that could eat YOU! (if it weren't vegetarian).


  1. Thanks, excellent resource document and a good topic to discuss

    I find there is still a lot of resistance to investigating/experimenting with zone 1 animal husbandry esp. in the urban environment. This is a shame because most of the animals are perfectly suited for the task and relatively easy to farm and prepare for the table

    From my experience people seem reluctant to consider animals they had as pets as a food source!


  2. If you want to eat guinea pigs fine but many of us would rather keep them as the pets we think they are.

  3. I love guinea pigs. Eating them would be interesting, but I still like them as pets. You got it, anonymous.

  4. I would NEVER eat a guinea pig! the thought of my sweet little guinea pig on a grill...UGH. I don't care how "nutritious" it is! People like that are disgusting! Horrifying, even!

  5. I need to remind readers that the animal in question here is NOT the 1-3 pound pet guinea pig but rather another breed from Peru which can reach about 6-7 pounds and is one of the most efficient converters of food to body mass.

  6. In response to Keith Johnson about the meat guinea pig being different from the pet guinea pig that's true that they are different but what if someone from China where to post this about eating dogs or cats? What people here are saying about that guinea pigs are just as cherished as pets as dogs and cats in the West.

  7. Dear Anonymous,
    Lots of animals are cherished...and then eaten anyway. I don't personally have a problem with people eating cats and dogs. You don't have to eat anything you don't want to nor would I expect you to.
    BTW, do you plan to remain Anonymous forever? It's a great way to hide out.

  8. No, I don't plan on remaining Anonymous forever but I was just pointing out why people have problems with eating guinea pig. Guinea pigs are cherished pets in Great Britain and when South American immigrants to Britain wanted to serve guinea pig in their restaurants in London the British Cavy Council was up in arms. I just thought I would point out the similarities between eating dog and cat in the U.S. and eating guinea pig. Ever seen Andrew Zimmern's show "Bizarre Foods"? He went to Peru and ate guinea pig. As for me posting under "Anonymous", I just didn't feel like using my name.

  9. Hi, I stumbled on your blog entry while researching raising cavy/guinea pig for meat. I live in Hawaii at a cool altitude. Any leads on where to get the larger size guinea pigs? Thanks, Matthew

  10. I'm still seeking clues to the availability of these animals. If anyone tracks down a source I'd be quite grateful.

  11. I too would be interested in finding the "meat" breed of guinea pig. They are easier to raise than rabbits and for small land holders a great and sustainable source of protein.

    And to all you people not down with eating the little pigs, you are just being xenophobic, get over it. By the way dogs and cats are not the best at converting food to meat otherwise I would be down with eating those too.

  12. Thanks for kicking the comments off again Mark

    Generally people seem to have an adverse reaction to any suggestion that we should eat 'pets' or 'rodents' but they are a fantastic method of growing protein in a resilient way

    The original Guinea pigs for meat pdf can be found here:

    Another useful source of information on micro livestock:

    "Microlivestock - Little-Known Small Animals with a Promising Economic Future"

    Includes chapters on:

    Giant Rat
    Guinea Pig
    Other Rodents


  13. where can i purchase wild cavia to raise as a protien source


  15. Just for the record... eating a guinea pig is not like eating dogs and cats; dogs and cats were originally domesticated as "mans best friend" for hunting purposes, protection, to rid the area of vermin, or just as companion's, while Cavy's were originally domesticated in Peru as livestock (to eat). Just because someone makes a pet out of livestock, you know like chickens, pot-bellied pigs, or *ahem* guinea pigs, doesn't mean that they're all pets.

  16. .There is the potential that you could starve yourself while eating them in a survival situation. The same goes with rabbits. They have little fat and you will need to add fat to the diet to ensure you don't die with a full belly.