We rotate our pigs through nine pastures, moving them every time we rotate our goats during the Spring and Summer. Depending on the quality and quantity of pasture available you may need to supplement. We supplement our pigs with soy meal mostly in the Winter.
Kunekunes are slow-growing and take their time before getting saddled with a bunch of piglets. While they are sexually mature, between five to eight months, they may not be up to reproduction for another six months. It takes some time before the males build up confidence in their seduction. Initially it sounds like, “excuse me madam, but your aroma is quite alluring. You wouldn’t consider, no no, of course not, I am so sorry. Please forgive me. I’ll just take a nap over here … so sorry.” With time and maturity, he will chatter nonstop in her ear and roar frequently, sounding like a grizzly bear.
We finally heard our boar, Newton, tell this story just right to our gilt Shiva. (Shiva is named after the world-famous Vandana Shiva, a physicist and an agronomist from India. If you haven’t read any of her books, I highly recommend Soil Not Oil and Stolen Harvest.) My husband and I were in the barn one morning helping our goat deliver her first kids when we heard a lot of passionate pig conversation. Three and half months later, Shiva gave birth to seven gorgeous piglets.
Left on pasture till the end of gestation, a sow will build a beautiful nest from grass and tree branches. She will stay under the nest two days prior to delivery and several days after the piglets are born.
Once or twice a year pigs need their hooves trimmed. To trim hooves, all you need is a high-speed micro-drill, two able-bodied people, and about 10 minutes. Two small women can handle even a boar, as Kunekunes are so placid. The easiest way to do this is to separate the pig to be trimmed from the rest of the drift (proper name for pig herd). Put a handful of grain on the ground, squat next to the pig, reach under it and grab the two legs on the far side. Pull the legs toward you and roll the pig onto its back. As soon as the pig is upside down, grab the other front leg so that one is in each hand, straddle the pig — facing the head — and place a foot on each side of the pig’s shoulder. Do not get behind the back legs or you may get kicked. Using a sandpaper cylinder on the micro-drill, level the nail to the nail pad and round off the outside edge. Smooth off the sharp edges of the dew claws. It will not take more than five minutes to do all four. Step off the pig and release hold of the front legs. Reward with a piece of fruit and good scratch. Be sure to stretch your back before doing the next one!
Yes, Kunekunes are hairy pigs. They will develop a nice coat for Winter & cuddle up on/in/under a nice bed a straw. They will shed their Winter coats in the Spring & have a shorter thinner coat of hair until Winter returns. They are not only hardy animals, they are very healthy & low maintenance. They are also very friendly & social pigs that love their human companions & may insist on a belly rub when they see you!
We generally don't keep up with the weights since it isn't a requirement for registration. They are tiny little things when they are born, so I would say about 5Lbs. The sows fully wean them on their own by 8 weeks old & they are around 25-30Lbs. Most of our piglets have been sold as breeding stock or as pets. There were 2 that I know of that were processed at a year old. They were some of our high percentage KuneKune (81%) American Guinea Hog (19%) crosses that weighed 123 & 132 Lbs. They brought home 125 Lbs of meat, but from her descriptions it sounds like they may have traded some of the meat with the butcher to lower their cost. Here is what she said about the meat:
"The meat looks dark and there is a thin layer of fat on some of it which I think it is amazing for a pig. We got some sausage and ribs also two huge hams and two huge shoulders."
Our KuneKunes & KK/AGH crosses are grazing pasture pigs. We let our pigs forage all day on pasture & supplement them with fruit & vegetables. We used to get damaged fruit from a local grocer & you can also give them kitchen scraps or ugly/extra stuff from the garden. Our pigs seem to especially love pumpkins. We also supplement them with grain. It is usually some kind of "pig chow," ground soy hulls, or whatever pig friendly feed happens to be on sale that we mix together. We keep an eye on their body condition & try not to feed them too much grain, because they are lard pigs & can develop a heavy layer of fat that in not good for their health. We never give them meat, but they do get grubs, earthworms, & I know that at least one of our pigs has learned to wait patiently in the farm ponds & will catch frogs!
KuneKunes are also considered Heritage Hogs, so they will grow slower than pigs genetically developed to grow very fast & very large for commercial pork production. They will grow until they are 3 years old. The 100% KK will grow to 200-250Lbs. Our KK/AGH crosses will be a little larger at 250-300 Lbs. They will push around leaves & some dirt with their short upturned snouts to get at something they want, but are known for preferring to graze rather than root up your pastures. Our pigs, along with the goats, actually help with improving our pastures for our cattle. They are also known for not challenges fences like standard pigs. They do very well in the goat wire fencing which has 4"x4" spacing. We do have an occasional pig that wants to be in a different past than where we want them. If that ever happens, they are are easily trained with 1 electric wire around the perimeter of their paddock or pasture.
Depending on the time of year & the rotation our KuneKune pigs, Kiko goats, & Black Hereford cattle at BF Farm could all be in the same pasture in different groups. I do keep KuneKunes separated from pregnant & soon to kid Does. Our boars will "nose" at any belly & push pretty hard sometimes. I don't like them to be around a goat giving birth or kids until they are completely cleaned off. They aren't on a mission to kill, but will eat the after effects of birthing & a newborn kid could get caught up in the frenzy. I've had 1 incident in 4 years recently where a boar got into the kidding pasture (he didn't get the memo on KuneKunes not challenging fences I guess?) & was going after a still fresh umbilical cord on a kid goat. Luckily I was in that pasture at the time & was able to intervene & get the shocked but okay kid goat away from the boar.