The guinea pig is a rodent mammal originally from the Andean area. A highly nutritious, native food product, it costs little to produce and is a valid contribution to the food security of poor rural people. The guinea pig population in the Andean countries is estimated at 36 million. The population consists of two guinea pig genotypes: the indigenous and the improved. A validation of breeder lines has shown good response to cross-breeding with indigenous breeds. The main breeding systems are family, family-commercial and commercial.
The guinea pig is a monogastric herbivore, able to adept to whatever food is available. Of the three possible feeding systems, one is based exclusively on fodder, a second is a mixed option consisting of fodder plus a concentrate, and a third is based on concentrates plus water and vitamin C.