Kunekunes are known as the Maori Pig as they have always been kept by the first people of New Zealand. This fact is believed to be the reason for the kune's tremendously friendly personality and fearlessness. Their origins are uncertain, but it is believed that they are of Chinese descent. Having almost become extinct, Michael Willis and John Simister, two animal preservation experts set out to acquire as many of these special, little pigs as possible and began a breeding program. They have become popular in New Zealand, Great Britain, and now, in America.
"Kunekune pigs cannot be compared to any other breed. These pigs are very gentle, small, easy to keep, fabulously colorful and extremely friendly. Kunes are larger than other small breeds, but still a very small pig. Usually, they range from 90 to 120 pounds, but some boars can get close to 200 pounds. No other pig breed is as friendly or easy on the environment. They can be fattened on grass alone and are known for their unusual ability to graze. They do not root like other pigs. The sweet disposition of the kunekune and their small size make them great for children. I have taken my pigs to church and school for special events. They trailer like a dream and will walk right in their very first time. Colors can be anything including
black, white, ginger (red), brown, and gold-tipped. I have even seen tri-color. Spotted, striped, marbled, and solid, curly, smooth, rough, long and short can all be found in the variety of coats. Characteristic tassels hang from their lower jaw adding to their unique appearance. These guys are also well balanced in conformation with a pleasingly round body. A short, up-turned snout and curly tail make the kunekune quite the charming little pig." Lori Enright - USA KuneKunes
Why Kunekunes differ from other breeds of swine in regards to size and their grazing ability.
As some of you may have seen posted on our Facebook page, we have been inspired by Bobby at Mitchell’s Miniature Farm to begin a monthly column (so to speak) in regards to Kunekune husbandry. We are hoping to get input on topics from fellow breeders, followers on Facebook, and as many Kune owners as we can reach. Each article will be posted as a note on Facebook as well as on our blog at www.blackvalleyfarm.com. To start we will choose one topic per month and elaborate on the subject.
To begin: Why are Kunekunes different than other breeds? We could go many directions with this subject, but for now, we will talk specifically regarding the areas of size difference and their ability to graze.
Size: Kunekunes can range in weight anywhere from 80lbs to 240lb according to different sources. According to the Kunekune Breed description in the book “Beautiful Pigs”—Portraits of fine breeds by Andy Case, boar weight varies between 110-132lbs, and a sow’s between 88-110lbs. Kunekunes are between 18” and 26” high, with an average height of 24” according to “Traditional Pig Keeping”—Carol Harris.
Compared to larger breeds such as: the Large Black, British Saddleback, Gloucestershire Old Spot, and Tamworth (that weigh in between the 300-400lb), Kunekunes are relatively half the size.
Some of the advantages to keeping a smaller pig are; ease of handling, smaller housing facilities, and decreased feed allowances. In the case of the Kunekune pig, the decrease in processed feed allowance is a strong point of interest.
Their ability to graze: One of the characteristics of the breed is their short up-turned nose. This particular characteristic allows the pigs to graze and discourages the tendency to root up the earth. Kunekunes will root somewhat, but nothing compared to the damage the Tamworth, for instance, would accomplish. In our experience most rooting takes place in damp earth and during our wet spring months. Our strategy has been to simply hand rake the upturned area, spread the desired seed over the bare ground, cover lightly with soiled bedding out of our barn, and within a few weeks the new grass has begun to grow. If your pastures are well established and your soil is not constantly damp it is probable that no rooting will occur.
We are currently grazing a herd of 20 odd pigs on approximately three to four acres. Our pastures are well established and have easily maintained our pigs. It would be feasible to estimate that we could double the size of our herd on the same acreage without compromising the life of our pasture.
Kunekunes can literally fatten on pasture alone. If you live in a climate where pasture is not available during the entire year it may become necessary to supplement over the dry or winter months. There are numerous choices to consider such as milk, whey, spent grains form a local brewery… If raising your pigs for meat, the various choices will enhance the individual flavor of your pork. Lori Enright of USA Kunekunes has fed brewery grains and we have experimented with both raw milk and whey. This fall we purchased a Jersey calf with the intention of finishing our future meat pigs on our own raw milk.
Anyone raising livestock realizes the expense of purchasing processed feed. As the price of corn continues to rise, we are all feeling the added financial output. For those of us looking to market pork as organic, the prices are usually double. Our personal goal for next year is to solely pasture all of our pigs from March or April until November, with the exception of pregnant and lactating sows.
This allows anyone looking into the breed whether for companionship, breeding, pork, or even an orchard or vineyard pig a very appealing point of interest. Just think you can keep a Kunekune for less than you can a family dog. (Think of the price of dog food.)
Provided By Black Valley KuneKune Pigs http://www.blackvalleyfarm.com/