HISTORY OF KUNEKUNE PIGS
Kunekune pigs are a heritage breed earliest recorded in 1790. They originally came from Asia. Then were brought to the Maori people in New Zealand by whalers and traders. The Maori people have raised them as a traditional food source for many years. Then as industrial commerce increased the Maori people began eating more modern foods and the Kunekune pig was left to roam among the people. The pigs lived around the homes of the people and at the left over scraps. They adapted and were close to extinction in 1980. At that time there were only 50 Kunekune left. Only 18 of those 50 were able to be confirmed as purebred. In 1995 and 2005, the Kunekune breed was introduced to America. 5? pigs were brought the US in 1995. Then in 2005, Jim and Lori Enright brought ----? more to the US. These breeders were intent on saving the Kunekune pig from extinction. Today there are more bloodlines and registered breeders in the US and in Austraila?. The Kunekune is not even listed on the Live Stock Conservancy Board anymore. Though they are not as common as some breeds they are a popular breed for homesteads and smaller farms. The Enright's worked hard to promote the Kunekune pigs and I am so glad they did. These pigs are some of the most wonderful animals I have ever raised. To say they have personality is not even touching the surface of these animals. They are highly intelligent and social with human beings. And that is a good thing because so many of them are just so adorable.
FEEDING KUNEKUNE PIGS
The boars and sows are about 24 inches tall and about 200 pounds when kept on pasture. They are considered to be a miniature pig. They are pasture pigs and do not root up the ground as most pigs do. They are the ideal livestock to manage an orchard. They can survive during most other seasons with grass and good graze and only need alfalfa hay to suppliment them in the winter. And even then, 1 to 2 flakes a day per pig will do. Throw in a few veggie table scraps and you will have some happy Kunekunes. The boars are easily handled and love attention. When handled consistently, the personality of the pig emerges. Our boar will "faint" at the sight of one of his humans. He rolls to his side and moans until he gets his belly rubbed. Even after the spoiling has stopped he will lie still for another 30 seconds or so just in case you might reconsider and stay longer. The sows are just as loving and great mothers. They have few birthing issues and raise their young on their own. Even after pigging, my sow will let me crawl into her shelter and inspect her babies. We removed our boar initially when she delivered. But he laid on one side of the fence and the sow laid on the other, side by side. He would nuzzle the babies through the fence. After about a week we introduced him to the piglets. He acted as if they had always been there. He even laid with the babies while momma sow went off to graze and have a little "momma-time". Now I know that not all Kunekune boars and sows are this docile. And I am not suggesting that you do as we did and put the boar back in with the sow a week after farrowing. What I am saying, is that we have spent a lot of time and intention on being familiar with our Kunekunes and they have responded favorably.
BREEDING KUNEKUNE PIGS
Kunekune pigs are a lard pig, but are also bred for meat and more recently as pet pigs. The sows can be bred twice in a year. They typically have litters of 7 to 10 piglets. The babies are also called a shoat or farrow. A female pig that has not delivered piglets is called a gilt. A female who has delivered piglets is a sow. A boar is the intact male pig. He is considered to be proven if he has sired piglets. Gilts are fertile at 10 months of age and males at 12 months of age. However, it is a good practice to wait until your gilt is 12 -18 month before breeding her. This gives her body time to develop and grow to her potential. Some breeders report fewer farrowing problems when the gilt is 12-18 months old at her first breeding. The piglets are usually weaned at 10 to 12 weeks.
When breeding Kunekune pigs, it is a good practice to pay attention to their bloodlines. It is good to be able to breed pigs together from different bloodlines. But this is not always easy to do. Even though the Kunekune is becoming more popular, they are still not easy to find. And finding a boar and sow that are not closely related can be challenging. Because of this the pigs are commonly identified by both of their parents bloodlines. The gilt/sow will be listed as her mother's bloodline and then her father's. For example, our Molly's mother's bloodline was Jenny 6. Molly's father's bloodline was Tonganuil. So she is identified as a Jenny 6 / Tonganuil. Mike our boar is a Mahia Love / Rona. So his father's bloodline was Mahia Love and his mother's bloodline was Rona. There is a lot of information about the different bloodlines and where they came from, characteristics, etc. You just have to do a little research. The Maori first called them Kunekune. This means fat, round, or chubby in their language. These pigs are just that and that is part of what makes them so unique looking. They have short flexible turned up snouts. Their hair is long and covers the whole body. It can be black, white, brown, red or any combination of those. Many are spotted and some have brindle markings. Some Kunekune pigs have wattles or little skin appendages that hang from their jaws. This is considered a desired feature for breeders when breeding them for pets. The Kunekune has very poor eyesight but a keen sense of smell. Today Kunekune pigs are being used in some places for drug sniffing and bomb detection because of their amazing sense of smell.
Even though they are adorable, intelligent and highly social they are still animals. They need help to stay cool in the summer and if kept outside will need a shelter, water and a mud pit for wallowing in.