Where is it Located
About the Pigs and Chickens
Throughout much of the year, visitors can view heritage breed hogs and chickens in the pens at this location.
Hogs were very popular in the 18th-century as a valuable source of food. Ham, salted pork, bacon, lard, scrapple, and chitterlings were all very common foods in colonial times. George Washington’s hogs ran loose in the woods, foraging on nuts and insects, until they were gathered in the fall for fattening.
Today, Mount Vernon raises Ossabaw Island hogs. They are descendants of pigs brought to the Americas over 400 years ago by Spanish explorers. Ossabaw Island hogs come in a variety of colors – gray, black, red, tan, and even spotted. Listed as “critical” with The Livestock Conservancy, Mount Vernon has been breeding the Ossabaws for over 20 years. We have sold piglets to other historic sites and hobby farmers all over the country who are committed to preserving this rare breed. Often in the spring through fall months, we have a litter of piglets for our visitors to see. A typical litter size for the Ossabaw is 4-8 piglets, with our largest litter of 11.
The Washingtons also raised a variety of domesticated fowl, including chickens and turkeys, to supply their table with both meat and eggs. Care of these birds typically fell under the control of the plantation mistress, and there are hints that Washington did not maintain a flock of chickens or other birds before his marriage. In a letter written three months after his marriage to Martha Washington, Washington alerted his hired servant, John Alton, to his imminent arrival at Mount Vernon with a wife and children. In order to make the best impression on his new family, Washington wanted the beds made up, all the furniture polished, and to "get some Egg's [sic] and Chickens", suggesting that there were no such creatures at Mount Vernon until sometime after Martha Washington's arrival.