KuneKune (pronounced Cooney Cooney) pigs are fast becoming a very popular Homestead breed. This popularity is remarkable considering these pigs were almost extinct by 1978, with only about 50 purebred KuneKunes living on the Maori Islands near New Zealand. Thanks to an intensive breeding program with importation to the UK and the US, this family pig is making a comeback.
The origin of the KuneKune is unknown, but it is guessed that the original KuneKune (which means “round and fat” in Maorian) may have come over from Asia with whalers, who then probably traded the pigs with the people of Maori. The KuneKune has a very friendly, docile nature with no tendency to roam, so the islanders just let them wander about the villages. So, I suppose, when someone wanted pork for dinner, they just invited one in.
WHY KUNEKUNE PIGS
Why are Kunekunes the Hot Item for Hobby Farmers, Self-sufficiency Advocates and the Slow-Food movement? A number of reasons, not the least, is the already mentioned wonderful temperament. Another reason is their size and lifestyle.
KuneKunes are lard pigs. If you were to feed them fast and furious for six months like a commercial pig, you will get a lard bucket. KuneKunes are slow-paced grazers and as such, do not reach butcher weight (around 100 – 150 pounds) until around a year old. They continue to grow until about 3 years of age, with sows reaching a mature weight of under 200 pounds and the boars up to 250 pounds. It is recommended that you fatten a KuneKune on pasture in the summer and alfalfa hay or pellets in the winter, although the piggies would love you even more after some treats of veggies or fruit. The quality of the pork is very tasty and worth the wait. But why would you want to wait? Why not get a commercial feeder pig and have the pork (and more of it) on the table 6 months earlier? The best argument for me is that I believe that “naturally raised” (in other words, letting a pig be a pig) meat is better for me, my family and the planet.
KuneKunes fit perfectly into the grazing scheme as they pretty much get along with everyone. Granted, Chubbs learned he could buffalo the Dexter cows and would sometimes "herd" them around the pasture- just out of boredom. The goats, however, will not be budged by a mere pig, but they understand that if you head-butt a pig straight on, everyone is just going to get a headache. So the goats are sneaky and will catch a pig on the side, sending the Kunekune rolling. Nothing but the pig's sense of pride is hurt. And your pasture will thank you for the smaller-framed pigs as they do less damage with those sharp hooves. They also do less rooting because of their cute little upturned snouts (they need soft ground or mud to make any headway).
We raise our pigs for breeding stock, meat and to complete our rotational grazing scheme. Other people own KuneKunes as pets, Therapy Animals and use in petting zoos. No matter what your porcine needs are, the KuneKune can fill them!
TONGANUI x WILSONS GINA
Chubbs is our head boar. He is a chunky monkey, which is a compliment in KuneKune language. He is also a love bug. He successfully mated all three of our girls before he reached his first birthday! Being cream colored, he throws all kinds of great piglet colors!
MAHIA LOVE X TRISH
Checkers came to us from Lazy Ox Farm and is super chill, despite looking so intimidating with his tusks and everything. His favorite past-time is hanging out with the humans. (Unless, of course, it is eating...).
RONA x BORIS
June is our biggest, but shyest girl. She is a brown and white, (although she looks black and white) with double wattles. She throws mostly brown and white babies, like herself. Usually the piglets are wattled.
JENNY x RU
Cream Puff is our herd queen and she knows how to rule! She is a benevolent ruler (unless it comes to who gets to the treats first) and is my best bud. Being a ginger and black sow, her litters are are always robust and full of all kinds of fun colors! Everything from cream and ginger to brown and white or ginger and black combos. If she is mated to Checkers, her piglets are often wattled.