The KuneKune Pig
History & Origin
The KuneKune Pig, pronounced "cooney cooney" is a rare, Heritage breed of pig originally kept by Maori people near the Maori Islands of New Zealand. Kunekune means "fat and round" in the Maori language and they truly are fat and round. They have a short stature and are the smallest domesticated breed of pig in the world. In the late 1970's the breed was "rediscovered" at the brink of extinction where only 50 purebred Kunekunes were left in New Zealand. In 1978, from a base stock of 6 sows and 3 boars the KuneKune conservation program was created by wildlife park owners Michael Willis and John Simister, who single-handedly saved the breed from extinction. In 1992 the first Kunekunes left New Zealand to go to the UK and from there Kunekunes were eventually imported into the USA in 1996, 2005, 2010 and 2012. It wasn't until 2012 when the first Kunekune hit Canadian soil. Up to this day, the Kunekune breed is still considered as a "rare species" which is why they are still being carefully observed.
Kunekunes are grazing pigs that gently improve pastures and woodlands by foraging for plants and grass. Even better they are known for their loveable, docile and friendly personalities which is unmatched by any other breed of swine. They co-graze extremely well with other livestock including goats, sheep, chickens, cows, horses, dogs, cats and more! They LOVE human company and soak up all the attention they can with belly rubs and scratches.
KuneKunes are a diverse breed of pig that can truly find their way into a variety of different markets. They fit perfectly into a variety of agricultural environments - hobby farms, orchards, pets, breeding stock, sustainable grass fed pork, therapy programs, showing and so much more!
They are excellent farm companions and land management tools much like goats. Kunekunes will happily clean up your property of weeds and trim down your grass. Rotational pasture management is highly encouraged where they can forage in a fenced safe pasture and use their smart brain to actively forage for snacks. Pigs are happiest outside, and while you may see pigs being kept as house pets, inevitably they become irritable and stressed from boredom and result in abandonment to shelters or euthanized. For these reasons, Rocky Acres Farm does not sell pigs for house pets. It should be noted that Kunes are NOT minature pigs. Some pet pig breeders have tried to miniaturize the breed, in our opion to the detriment of the animals' health. By all means enjoy your pigs as companions, but only in a way that puts the pigs health and complete wellbeing first.
KuneKunes are also famous for their rich, red and deeply marbled meat (almost like fine steak) and creamy white lard. Their largely plant-based diet makes for exceptionally clean tasting meat, which is increasingly becoming known as some of the tastiest pork (charcuterie in particular) in the world. Rendered lard can be used in cooking, baking and soap making.
Size: 24-36inches tall (usually about to your knee)
Weight: 200-400lbs (males being heavier than females)
Colours: Cream, Ginger, Black, Brown, Ginger/Black, Black/Ginger, Tri, Black/White, White/Black, Brown/White, White/Brown (AKKPS Colour Chart)
Coat: Hair which can be long or short, and straight or curly
They are smaller than other breeds of pigs and may be included among the naturally small breeds. Many "small pigs" sold by breeders are not small by nature, but are small because of selective breeding compared to Kunekune pigs that are born naturally small.
Kunekune in the Maori language means "fat & round." Their short stature paired with their short legs gives them a natural round body shape. They have short upturned snouts, which makes them quite suitable for grazing and less prone to rooting.
Unlike most other breeds, KuneKune pigs have wattles. They are called "Piri Piri"in their original land of New Zealand. They are similar to goat wattles and hang just under the jowl. They are born with and without wattles. The inheritance of these wattles appear to have no rhyme or reason. You can mate two double-wattles Junes and get booth double, single or unwattled piglets. You can mate two unwattled KuneKunes together and get double-wattled piglets too!
Their coat which comes in an assortment of colours and can be long or short and straight or curly may change depending on the current month or seasons. Winter months usually gives the Kunekune pig a much thicker coat which they will then shed during warmer summer seasons.
KuneKune pigs primarily graze "for a living" which makes them a great pig breed for the homestead. Unlike standard pigs their efficient metabolisms are able to extract nutrition from grasses and other roughage. Their short snouts make them efficient grazers and poor rooters. Young "teenage" Kunekunes and adults on poor pasture will sometimes root in the dirt for worms and grubs, but for the most part KuneKunes are non-rooting pigs. Kunekunes love to graze on pasture and also enjoy a variety of fruits and vegetables. They would be delighted to assist with cleaning out your garden at the end of the year or a daily piece of fruit/veggie as a snack. ALSO require some swine specific grain in combination with their grazing to make sure the diet is complete including the essential vitamins and minerals needed to grow and maintain their health. For more info on Kunekune care click here
True Kunekune pigs, including Boars are known to be very docile, friendly animals which make them a great choice for first time pig owners or small-scale hobby farms. While they are very gentle and can be trusted with children, we do not advise leaving any young child unsupervised. Kunekune pigs are very patient and love human interaction. They are prey animals and tend to escape or run away instead of fighting when they feel threatened.
Personalities differ from pig to pig, just like humans, they each have their own quirks, but overall they are usually quiet and enjoy spending time grazing, relaxing with a nap and enjoy human interactions. Pigs in general are ranked the 5th most intelligent animal in the world! Kunekunes specifically are linked to have the same intelligence of a human baby as they feel emotions and understand the concept of reflection. The fact that they can feel negative and positive emotions makes them compassionate too. They can feel pain, are capable of grieving or mourning, hold grudges and feel grateful.
A study conducted by cognitive researchers from the Messerli Research Institute of Vetmeduni Vienna has demonstrated that Kunekune pigs possess highly developed learning abilities as they attentively observe and replicate tasks demonstrated especially by their mother or an aunt. Kunekune pigs are very quick learners who connect with well with people due to their high IQ and great long-term memory.
Kunekune pigs are also capable of being a well emotional support animal or a therapy animal that can help reduce depression. Their unique characteristics, friendly personalities and diverse uses ranks them as a highly sought after breed of swine.
KuneKune pigs are very hardy little pigs and fair quite well in most climates. In the low winter temperatures, mature pigs require draft-free housing and adequate bedding to stay warm. In the summer months, it is vital for Kunes to have a wallow, clean drinking water and shade to cool off and prevent sunburns.