Kunekune Pig: Your Ideal Home Buddy

Spotted kunekune pig

What does your mind picture when you hear the adjectives ‘fat’ and ’round’? Teddy bear? Yes. Kunekune Pig? No?

Well, these efficient and cuddly creatures have been gone unnoticed by many. They even faced the danger of extinction. They deserve much more! And so do you.

You have seen people having dogs, cats, hamsters, birds etc., as pets. Do you know that some pigs could be equally friendly? Pigs are considered to be dirty animals. Kunekune pigs prove this wrong.

Behold these Kunekune piggies, and you will find them worthy and beautiful for you and your family.

All You Need to Know About Kunekune Pig

Kunekune pig

Kunekune pig

Kunekune Pigs are believed to be progenies of an Asian breed first brought to New Zealand by traders in the 19th C. presumably. Their ancestors remain unknown.

The Maori tribe of New Zealand looked after them. Their character allowed them to be set free. Kunekune pigs were mostly used for their flesh, which is said to be delicious. They differ from the pot-bellied pigs in terms of their long hair and personality.

Pot-bellied pig

Pot-bellied pig

Kunekune are domestic pigs typically used for grazing. Naturally, they love meadows and orchards. However, they are apt for small-scale farms too. Cramped space is abominable to them.

There are several Kunekune cross-breeds such as American Guinea Hogs and kunekune cross breeds and Red Wattle and Kunekune crosses. The former is highly economical due to the mix of the wonderful traits of both – small size, good temper, excellent meat and is cheaper.

How do they Look?

Native Maori baptized them Kunekune, which means “fat” and “round” in their language. Yes, they are small and round with a low belly held up by four tiny legs. Aww them.

Kunekune pigs are hairy. The hair may be silky, coarse, spiny, long, short, straight, curly, gold, black, brown, ginger, cream. They also have beautiful combinations of spots like black and white, gold and white etc.

That’s a wide variety of hairs for a pig! They measure around 24-30 inches in height, varying from small to medium. They weigh from 100 to 600 pounds.

It takes just a few years to reach their maximum size. They have cute little snouts that are black and upturned. Their ears are partly lopped or pointed.

Have you seen two fleshy skin dangling from the chin of mountain goats?

In KuneKune pigs, these tassels are called Piri-Piri ( in the native tongue). However, these are seen only in some. Even then, they are distinguishing features attributed to these pigs.

Piri-piri of Kunekune pig

Piri-piri of Kunekune pig

Kunekune boars have enormous tusks. It is not dangerous since they are calm animals, but you can cut them off if you feel insecure.

Make sure you choose the right method to do this. It barely takes ten seconds if done correctly. They can weigh more than 250 pounds. While Kunekune gilts usually weigh below 200 pounds.

17 Reasons Why Kunekune Pigs Are Ideal Pets!

  • Social Beings: They are as sweet as sugar and have a good temper. Friendly and kind, they are perfect for children who can engage with them fearlessly. It is hard to find these qualities in other varieties of pigs!
    Kunekune pigs
  • Fences do work for them! They are well-behaved and will do no such thing as straying from the fences or jumping them. In earlier days, they were valued for this trait of obedience!
  • They smell less and are often quiet but sociable. Visitors will be delighted with these unique and easy-going creatures, provided they are well-kempt. Your neighbors will face no issues from them. In fact, they will be quite pleased with these no-nuisance pigs.
  • Kunekune pig keeping is lucrative and less labor dependent.
  • Is it expensive to feed them? No. Unlike commercial pigs, they require less protein. Kunekune pigs are not choosy and will eat almost everything. Give them fresh grass (their staple food) and they can still bloom and survive.
  • However, be a good master and nourish them well with sufficient fresh grass. With side dishes like fruits, nuts, grains, and vegetables, they will gratefully grow. They are genuinely cost-efficient.
  • Are you worried about land? Kunekune pigs need just enough space to eat, roam, and graze grass.
  • Being small, nearly 3 of them can neatly fit in half an acre of paddock. If you want them inside, go ahead and welcome them but not for long! Make sure they can walk out if they feel suffocated. Managing them is no sweat!
  • Multitaskers! They pursue a number of professions: grazers, therapists, models, high-quality meat suppliers etc. Kathy Petersen, the president of the American KuneKune Pig Society says that Kunekune pigs were gaining fame in the US due to their benefits.
  • Are you not passionate about pets? Then you can choose to buy these just for financial profit because Kunekune pigs are used for commercial purposes too.

Remember that the Maori tribe mainly used them for their flesh which is of a top-notch flavor and quality, having a greater concentration of meat than fat. Their lard is delicious too.

  • Their lifespan ranges around 10-20 years if looked after well, long enough for you to share a bond.
  • They adapt to different climatic conditions except for scorching temperatures. They have thick hairs and glazing skin to protect them from freezing conditions. However, they shed them during the summer.
  • Breeding: Kunekune pigs are capable of breeding well. They give birth to over seven piggies at a time (litter) which could be just the size of your palm in nearly four months of pregnancy.                    The mothers are gentle and responsible. Females (gilts), although they become fertile at five months, are mated with the males (boars) from 12 months only.

    Kunekune pig litter

    Kunekune pig litter

  • Great Scavengers: Need your garden, lawn or orchards weeded and cleaned? KuneKunes to your rescue! They slay away the weeds and pick up anything lying on the ground! So check if your area has any substance or plant which will be a threat to your pig.
  • They root less! Root? They have a lesser tendency to dig the soil for food thanks to their sky-facing harmless snouts!
  • Great at getting along! You can fearlessly put them in with your other farm animals. Sometime they will be familiar and tolerant.
  • This pig is almost like a dog! You can train it to obey you to the word, be it tricks or manners.
  • Feeling cold in winter? Snuggle up with your kunekune pigs. They are a heat beacon on their own.
  • Adorable- take a look at the piglets and your heart melts. They love being tickled on their bellies.

    Kunekune piglet

    Kunekune pig

The 8 R’s to Keep in Mind Before Buying a KuneKune Pig

  • Rate: it ranges from $800-1600.
  • Research well in advance. Find the areas selling the Kunekune pigs near you and filter out the best ones before setting out to buy them. 
  • Reach out to the people who purchased the Kunekune pigs and get the needed information like the reliable breeding centers, methods to check the quality etc.
  • Authentic Reviews of the sellers from customers will always help you.
  • Remember to interact with the breeder. Raise your doubts and ensure that he is a know-kune-pig person. It is advisable to get small ones if this is your first time.
  • If the seller recommends small-sized pigs, Reaffirm if they are genetically so. Malnourished ones too could be comparatively smaller than their fit counterparts. 
  • Rescue your pigs from loneliness! Getting 2 pigs at a time is preferable since you wouldn’t like your pet to feel nervous and unfortunate. Also, being herd animals, they need the company of their own family members to grow mentally and physically healthy.
  • Register in your CPH (County Parish Holding) to get a number which permits to use your land for raising any animal, if you are a beginner.

Do’s and Don‘ts to Make Kunekune Pigs ‘Feel at Home’

Do’s:

  • Make sure you provide them with enough room and ventilation. Give them the freedom to wander and graze away their time!
  • They require fiber too to complete their circle of diet. This could be given in Spring in the form of fruits such as apple as a compensatory food for grass.
  • A cozy multi-layered hay bed at the corner of the barn or the sty with fences will be ideal for your pig. 
  • Hygiene is essential for all pets. Clip their hoofs twice or thrice a year, give occasional baths, shear their hair, and brush them down. It is fun to babysit these good-hearted ones.
  • Protect your pigs from worms like lungworms by occasionally worming them.
  • Unspoiled scraps of food can be given to the pigs. This way no food gets abandoned and your Kunekunes will also get a fine share of your dinner.
  • A small amount of grains doused in water in the ratio 1:2 could also be given.
  • Shift the sows (mother) to the pen almost a week before its delivery.

Summer Tips:

  • Kunekune pigs can’t tolerate intense heat. So, provide them with ample shade such as barn or smaller ones out in the field such as trees etc. during Summer.
  • Make their home muddy (water some areas) so that they can roll in it to cool down and prevent burns. 
  • Supply them with fresh grass, vegetables like beetroots, carrots etc. and abundant water to keep them cool and hydrated.
  • In order to prevent their skin from getting parched and cracking up, you can rub edible oils like olive oil on their skin at night.

Winter Tips:

  • Shut the Kunekune pigs up in an outhouse or any hand-made shelter after they graze to prevent turning the wetland topsy-turvy with the pigs scurrying all over it.
  • With scarcity of grass, you can turn to grass and alfalfa hay, grass, alfalfa or protein pellets- a trustworthy diet if taken in moderate quantities (below 20%) and grains twice a day in the winter to keep your pigs healthy. Organic pellets are free from pesticides.
  • Using a wooden floor will help you keep out the dampness.
  • Extra dry hay for your pig bed and a snug outhouse will keep them warm, cozy, and safe from pneumonia!   
  • You can use safe heat lamps or wool and soft hay to warm new born piglets up.

To learn more, click here.

Don’ts:

  • Do not feed them garlic, pig meat, onions, spoilt leftover food and food brought into contact with pig meat. You wouldn’t like eating human meat, would you?
  • Don’t leave them in wet straw and sty during winter. This could not only make them uneasy but also result in arthritis and similar distressing diseases.
  • Avoid over-feeding. Excessive food could lead to health problems, such as obesity and sterility.

Don’t forget to arrange for occasional check-ups! Learn more about vaccinations, worming and other disease preventive measures from the vet. A healthy body lays the path for a happy life!

Rescue From Extinction: Time to Treasure Them!

These darling unrecognized Kunekune pigs faced the danger of extinction in the 70s, especially with just 50 of the purebred left in New Zealand. 

Staglands Wildlife Reserve founder John Simister came across them and found them rare and worthy. After many inquiries, he realized that they were fast disappearing. With the help of Michael Willis, his counterpart, he set about in search of the leftover Kunes and thus became the unsung heroes of these pigs by founding a conservation program to breed the remaining ones and revive these precious lives. This rippled across the world in different forms of recovery initiatives.

As part of these, the newly breeded Kunekune pigs were transported from New Zealand to other places in fear of some disaster or disease sweeping them away. Thus, a few lucky ones travelled to the UK initially. Later, additional ones were shipped to the US in almost five successive batches from 1993.

Thus, they resurrected back in small numbers and by 2010, bid goodbye to extinction. Similar pigs seen in Asia and South America could be their distant family members. Today the “cooney-cooneys” are growing and getting pretty famous in New Zealand, Europe, UK and the US.

Buying a Kunekune pig is worth the money and time. These humble creatures will remind you to slow down and enjoy the little things in life. Spending time with them will help you forget your worries and bring many perks along the way.

Already have a KuneKune pig? Please share your experiences with us in the comments section below.

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