The Best Homestead Pigs—KuneKune Pigs!

KuneKune Pigs called kunekune, which are pronouced "cooney cooney," are a wise choice for small farms. Kunekune is a Maori word that means "big and round." These medium-sized, tasseled, sweet-natured pigs are native to New Zealand. Although no one is certain, it is believed that they are a hybrid of pigs from Indonesia and Berkshire, Poland China, and possibly Gloucester Old Spots.

They were on the verge of extinction. Nobody really knows for sure how they got to New Zealand, but there are a number of possibilities, including the possibility that they were brought there by whalers or transported there by Maori tribes in canoes. The Maori tribes used to raise KuneKune pigs for their lard and as a source of meat. Perhaps the phrase "keep" is incorrect because they let them roam freely, yet they stayed close to Maori dwellings. Some claim that this is how they got to be so nice and domesticated.

On average, females weigh between 100 and 175 pounds, while males weigh between 200 and 250 pounds or more. They don't climb fences, and their short, turned-up snouts make it difficult to root. As grazing pigs that can flourish with minimal feed, kunekunes are a desirable breed when grain prices are rising.

Look no farther than KuneKune pigs if you want to begin raising pigs in a free-range environment. They are easy on the environment and favor grass. They have a short snout, unlike other breeds, which makes them particularly effective grazing animals. They are also incredibly cost-effective because they do not require a lot of supplemental grains.

The pork that they make is flavorful, juicy, and red-marbled, with a coating of fat surrounding it to seal in the taste. Although they take longer to develop, the pork from dogs raised for meat is well worth the wait. You take great delight in providing your family with bacon and barbecued meat from KuneKune pigs that you raised yourself.Pigs called KuneKune are very laid-back and sociable animals. When they hear you approaching the pastures, they will run to meet you. They adore interacting with people and will instantly flop down for a belly rub. They get along great with cats, dogs, goats, chickens, and ducks. Children love it when you "talk" to them during mealtime.

KuneKune pigs have wattles, unlike the majority of other breeds. In New Zealand, where they originated, they are known by the name Piri Piri. These hang just below the jowl and resemble goat wattles. Both wattles and wattles are present at birth. These wattles' inheritance seems to be random and illogical. Both double-wattled and unwattled progeny can be produced by mating two double-wattled Kunes. Two Kunes without wattles can be mated to produce double-wattled offspring. Little KuneKune pigs are extremely resilient and do well in most climates. Mature pigs only want draft-free housing and bedding to be warm throughout the chilly winter months. They must have a mud puddle to cool off in during the summer to avoid becoming sunburned and bitten by mosquitoes.

Colors for KuneKune pigs include ginger/black, black/ginger, ginger, cream, black/white, brown/white, and other combinations. They stand out from other breeders thanks to the combinations, which give them a very distinctive appearance.True grazers, KuneKunes enjoy to graze and explore grasslands and forests throughout the day. They are highly suited for small-scale farmers because they require very little supplementation. KuneKunes are often very clean creatures and prefer to poop along fence lines.

What is a Pasture Pig?

Pigs grown outside, allowed to graze on pasture throughout the entirety of their lives, are known as pastured pigs. They are born, grow up, and live in open paddocks.

Because pigs cannot thrive on only grass, pastured pork is not "grass fed" pork in the purest sense of the phrase. Pigs need a varied diet that contains a nutritionally balanced feed that includes fiber, energy (carbs), and protein in addition to necessary vitamins and minerals because they are omnivores, just like you and I.

However, the major purpose of naming them pastured pigs is to better depict how they live their life while on the farm. Pigs on pasture do eat a lot of grass and also acquire a lot of their nutritional needs from the land. In a pastured setting, there is constant access to grazing, living in spacious, open paddocks without feedlots, and no overpopulation.

The sows are protected from the elements and predators while living their entire lives outdoors and giving birth outside when pigs are raised free range on pasture. In a pastured free range system, there are typically no set sheds or buildings because housing and hutches are portable and can be moved throughout the paddocks with ease.

Pastured pork is produced in a farming system that ensures all pigs of all classes and ages are outdoors, not just the sows as is the practice in 'outdoor bred systems'.  Watch out for producers using the descriptor "outdoor born and bred" as this only describes the breeder herd and does not include the porkers that go on to become pork.

What Makes KuneKune Pigs the Ideal Pasture Pig?

As real grazing pigs, kunekunes thrive on pasture as long as there is food available (greenery), and their nutrition is rounded out with a tiny quantity of pig feed to make up for mineral deficiencies like lysine, copper, and selenium, all of which are typically deficient in many parts of the country. (A reliable test will confirm this.) The fact that kunes have shorter, upturned noses that are precisely positioned for grazing rather than for digging up the ground like nearly all other pigs is part of what makes them particularly exceptional on pasture. You simply cannot beat kunes if you're trying to enhance pasture while preserving priceless topsoil.

Do Well in all Climates

Little KuneKune pigs are extremely resilient and do well in most climates. Mature pigs only want draft-free housing and bedding to be warm throughout the chilly winter months. They must have a mud puddle to cool off in during the summer to avoid becoming sunburned and bitten by mosquitoes.

Our Adoration for Kune Kune Pigs

Our Kune Kune pigs have been with us for more than 10 years. We used to grow seasonal pigs to stock our freezers and buy feeder pigs every year.

But since we are always looking for ways to improve, we put mechanisms in place to become less dependent on outside sources for our needs and work to become more robust. We don't want to have to keep buying feeder pigs every year to have fat and meat in our pantry and freezer.

A feeder pig costs around $150 at the time this audio was recorded; this price does not include feeding the pig until it reaches butchering weight. We started investigating breeding stock rearing to maintain our supply of pork and fat "in-house" since this approach isn't viable.

This brought up the issue of what breed of pigs to grow.

Why Raise Pigs with Kune Kune

When selecting the ideal pig breed, there are several factors to take into account, many of which are subjective.

To what extent do you desire meat?

What is the desired amount of lard?

Do you want the pigs to be employed by you?

What kind of person are they?

To what extent will they grow?

How simple is it to confine them?

We'll stick to our reasons for believing Kune Kune pigs to be the best homestead pig breed since this isn't a discussion about pig breeds in general.

Two piglets, kune kune, are munching.

They Refuse to Root

Pigs love to root, as anybody who has reared one can attest. They are thus excellent for aiding in the turning of compost piles or clearing ground for future gardens. They may quickly harm a pasture, however, unless you have a specific place where you want to house them full-time.

One of the few breeds of pigs that is not known to root is the Kune Kune pig. We were quite cautious when selecting our breeding stock to make sure they were from a pure-bred line that didn't root, however there could be exceptions to this rule. Although we've heard that Idaho Pasture Pigs don't root, everyone we know who has experience with this breed says otherwise.

We still bring in a few "bacon pigs" every year to aid us in the places where we need some rooting since Kune Kune pigs don't root; in particular, they help us turn up our deep litter bedding system in our barn. Because of the effort these "working pigs" save us every year, we don't mind investing in them.

Two piglets, kune kune, are munching.

Excellent Grazers

We like that we can keep the grass down and do away with the necessity for weed whacking by using our Kune Kune pigs along the boundaries of our pasture.

Kune Kune pigs are a good complement to any rotational grazing system when it comes to maintaining high-quality grasslands. Not only that, but if you have a pasture to graze them in, you're saving money on feed.

Simple to Hold

Pigs of the Kune Kune breed are very simple to confine. To keep them, we just put two electric wires around the perimeter at nose level, low to the ground.

They are quite submissive, and they have never pushed their bounds or escaped from us.


As one of the smaller breeds of pigs, Kune Kune pigs don't need as much food to grow to maturity.

For the most part, family members find them simpler to handle. If you have old or young persons assisting to raise and care for the pigs, this is something you should definitely take into account.

A guy scratching a Kune Kune pig.

A positive temperament

When growing pigs with offspring, the breed and size of the animal are crucial factors to take into account. Because Kune Kune pigs are among the tiniest breeds of pigs and very amiable, we like rearing them.

Though generally Kune Kune pigs are fairly docile and sociable, there are always exceptions when it comes to their disposition, such a sow guarding her offspring. They will often approach to provide hugs and rubs.

A piglet, kune kune, consuming.

Lower Feed Expense

It is becoming difficult to get reasonably priced pasture-raised pork. In addition, not every pig should be grown on grass. One exception are the Kune Kunes

We were looking for a pig that would lower our total feed expenses while still giving our family enough to eat.

All that our pigs need for winter survival are hay and/or leftover kitchen leftovers. We were concerned about them not freezing to death over the winter when we initially received them. They were overfed at first, which led to some breeding problems, but they are now prospering in our chilly north Idaho environment when we reevaluated our feeding practices and discovered they can thrive on grass alone.

We add some goodies from the garden as the weather warms up and we can start producing food in the gardens once again. Overall however, they are a free food source for our family since they can survive on grass by themselves or simply the leftovers from our kitchen.

A wooden cutting board with a knife chopping up hog fat with little pieces of meat on it.

High Producers of Fat

Because they generate more fat than pigs of other breeds, Kune Kune pigs are referred to as "fat pigs" or "lard pigs." Some are searching for more meat from their pigs, thus they don't like the big quantities of fat that come with rearing these breeds.

We decided having a fat pig was the best option for our family after realizing all the applications for lard on the property.

Breeds of Fat Pigs (Lard Pigs)

Not every pig is regarded as a "fat pig" or a "lard pig." The following are a few of the popular breeds:

The Kune Kune'

The Mangalitsa's

Guinea Hogs in America

Pastured Pigs in Idaho

One of the most difficult resources for homesteaders to get is fats, which are also among the priciest to purchase.

Enough raw milk has to be used for a year's worth of handmade butter, which requires weekly churning. We have been experimenting with pressing our own seed oils, but certain tools are needed for this. When we discovered that we could render enough lard in a single day to provide our family with fat for a whole year, we were convinced!

A pig eating kune kune.

What Makes Kune Kune Pigs Unique?

Because Kune Kune pigs can live without any outside help, we like growing them. They are able to survive off of the stuff we grow on the farm. They have a wonderful disposition and are simple to care and keep up. By using them, we can save down on labor, gasoline, and cooking expenses (because we won't need to buy extra fats).

If you wish to grow pigs on your farm, think about include Kune Kunes. We have no doubt that you will adore them as much as we do.

A piglet, kune kune, consuming

KUNEKUNE PIGS ARE IDEAL FOR SMALL FARMS.  Kunekune (pronounced "cooney cooney") pigs are an excellent choice for small farms. Kunekune translates to "fat and round" in Maori. These medium-sized, tasseled pigs are native to New Zealand. While no one is certain, they are supposed to be a mix between Berkshire, Poland China, and possibly Gloucester Old Spots among Indonesian pigs.    Females weigh 100 to 175 pounds on average, but males can weigh 200 to 250 pounds or more. They have small, upturned snouts that prevent them from rooting, and they do not challenge fences. Kunekunes are grazing pigs that can thrive on modest inputs, making them a desirable breed during times of rising grain costs. Gourmet chefs in Los Angeles have praised Kunekune pork.    sows and piglets  Kunekunes are odorless, quiet, and child-safe. This makes the neighborhood happy, and both children and adults like visiting.  My husband and I raise our Kunekunes in a semi-rural setting within Olympia, Washington's development management limit. Our 4-acre parcel is surrounded by more than a dozen neighbors. According to our county conservation district, our pastures can support two boars, eight sows, and their piglets. However, one boar may easily maintain eight sows in pig.    KUNEKUNE PIGS FEEDING  During the spring and summer, we rotate our pigs through five pastures, rotating them every other day. Depending on the quality and quantity of available pasture, supplementation may be required. Each pig receives roughly 2 cups of organic mixed grain (15 percent protein) both morning and night. In western Washington, grass contains enough protein levels only five months of the year. Even less may be available if towering evergreen trees provide shade. We feed alfalfa pellets and produce scraps after the grass stops growing in late summer.    Every week, our local brewery provides us with 25 gallons of organic amber ale swill (non-alcoholic brewing effluent) rich in yeast and enzymes. Our friends provide windfall apples and pears in the fall. Pigs will eat almost anything in the garden except onions and garlic. Their favorite vegetables are beets, carrots, and potatoes. We give them old leftovers and keep everything fresh in the fridge — though the farm dog already has first dibs on any and all kitchen meat scraps.    When kunekunes are not on pasture in the winter, they should be fed alfalfa hay. We prefer alfalfa pellets since they are less wasteful and easy to feed. We buy organic grain and pellets not only for the pigs' welfare, but also to protect ourselves from pesticide residue in the dust. We also appreciate that organic grain is often free of genetically modified organisms. Although it is significantly more expensive than conventional feed, the price of the pork can compensate for this cost if it is labeled as organic-fed.    KUNEKUNE PIGS HOUSING  Pigs on pasture still require rain shelter. We were fortunate to receive wrecked carbon-fiber rocket fuselage components from a growing space travel company; they made great shelters. Each of our pastures and a portion of the paddock has a section. Unless it is pouring, the pigs usually sleep outside. They usually stay in a clump to stay warm and save energy.    pig enclosure  Rain shelters can be made for very little money using repurposed materials.  During the winter, our pigs sleep in the barn and have access to an outside gravel paddock. Taking them off the pasture during the wet season helps to keep the land from becoming compacted. Pigs, unlike ruminants in confinement, do not foul their bedding. Kunekunes do not require additional heat until their piglets are born in chilly conditions. Heat lamps should be fitted with extreme caution to avoid a poorly hung or malfunctioning lamp burning down the barn.    KUNEKUNE PIGS BREEDING  Kunekunes develop slowly and take their time before being saddled with a slew of piglets. While they are sexually mature between the ages of five and eight months, they may be unwilling to procreate for another six months. It takes time for boys to develop confidence. "Excuse me, madam, but your aroma is quite alluring," we imagine them saying. You wouldn't think about it - of course not. I sincerely apologize. Please accept my apologies. Sorry, I'll just take a snooze over here." With time and maturity, he would chatter in her ear ceaselessly and roar frequently, sounding like a grizzly bear.    My husband and I were in the barn one morning, helping our goat birth her first babies, when we overheard a heated pig debate between Newton, our boar, and Shiva, our gilt. (Shiva is called after the world-famous Indian physicist and agronomist Vandana Shiva. I strongly suggest her works Soil Not Oil and Stolen Harvest.) Shiva gave birth to seven adorable piglets three and a half months later.      a vibrant six-week-old purebred Kunekunes is breastfeeding.  A sow will make a magnificent nest from grass and tree branches if allowed on pasture until the end of her gestation. She will stay in the nest for two days before and several days after the piglets are born.    Kunekune pigs are an excellent choice for small farms and homesteads. The American KuneKune Pig Society's downloadable PDF will teach you the fundamentals of the KuneKune pig breed. Including:             HOOF MAINTENANCE  Pigs' hooves must be trimmed once or twice a year. A pair of goat foot trimmers, two able-bodied adults, and five minutes are all that is required.    The simplest way to accomplish this is to isolate the pig to be trimmed from the rest of the pigs. Begin by scratching the pig's belly until it collapses. Have someone assist you with the belly scratching. If the pig refuses to lie down, throw some grain on the ground, kneel next to it, reach under it, and grip the two legs on the far side. Pull the pig's legs toward you and roll it onto its back. As soon as the pig is upside down, grab the other front leg with both hands, straddle the pig with one foot on each side of the pig's shoulder, and place a foot on each side of the pig's shoulder. If you get behind the back legs, you might get kicked.    Level the nail to the nail pad and round off the outside edge using the goat hoof trimmer. Remove the dew claws' sharp edges. All four hoofs will take no more than five minutes to complete. Step away from the pig and let go of the front legs. Reward the pig with some fruit and a good scratch. Stretch your back before moving on to the next one!    WORMING AND VACCINATIONS  Rhini Shield TX4 has been suggested by several veterinarians in the Pacific Northwest to protect pigs from erysipelas, parvo, atrophic rhinitis, and certain kinds of pneumonia. If you intend to send your pigs to a fair where there will be other pigs, you should absolutely vaccinate them many weeks in advance.    The key advantage of worming — which really means de-worming — is that it ensures that you are farming pigs rather than worms. Pigs eat worm eggs that they find in the soil. In the winter, lung worms can contribute to pneumonia. Even with consistent pasture rotation, it is difficult to keep pigs worm-free. Pigs' noses are on the ground 99 percent of the time they are awake; if there are worms in the field, the pigs will eat them. If you are new to rearing livestock, you will encounter a variety of viewpoints on worming. Over-worming and under-worming can both result in resistant worms, much as inappropriate antibiotic use can result in superbugs. Consult your veterinarian to be on the safe side.    TUSKS FROM KUNEKUNE  Kunekune boars have massive tusks. They do not commonly use their tusks against other pigs because they are not a particularly aggressive breed. Even those who have several boars do not feel compelled to file down the tusks. Those who wish to try it nonetheless can do so with a basic wire tool that can be purchased or created at home. You should be able to perform this while the pig is on his back getting his hooves trimmed. File his tusks all the way down to the gum line. Because the tooth root lies below the gum line, there is no pain. Once the wire is in the appropriate location, each tusk may be removed in about five to ten seconds by quick back and forth sawing. Just make sure you're not touching any gum tissue before you get started! It might be best to use a snare and do it upright. Disclaimer: Neither method has been attempted by me. I've only seen it done once.    THE MOST COMMON MISTAKES MADE BY KUNEKUNE OWNERS  Overfeeding causes infertility and poor health in your animal. Check online visual guides to verify you are feeding your animals at the proper weight. I've also witnessed incidents of pigs being underfed because their owners believe they just require grass or bread. Please educate yourself about porcine nutrition. Unless you feed inappropriate amounts, you can't go wrong with a pig-specific brand of feed.    slumbering pig  Another typical mistake is expecting Kune-crosses to have the same qualities as purebred Kunekunes. Cross-bred pigs will exhibit far more rooting and escape habits.    INTERNS  A growing number of agricultural interns are seeking agriculture knowledge and experience. A college intern may make living on the farm more pleasurable while also alleviating some of the workload. Students are frequently willing to work for fresh fruits and vegetables and possibly fresh or frozen meat. A young farm intern will love to assist with hoof clipping, tusk filing, worming, or simply grooming the pigs. Kunekune pigs are affectionate creatures, and grooming them is as much fun for us as it is for them.