The Kunekune is a small pig breed developed by the Maori people of New Zealand. The admixture of porcine varieties that evolved into the Kunekune are lost to the mists of time, but they were most likely European and Asian breeds brought to the country by the English colonizers and whalers. New Zealand is a nation of many islands, and islands create unique selection pressures – sharply defined boundaries and limited resources – pressures that usually result in scaled down versions of large mainland livestock. The end result is an animal that can maximize the available resources. The Kunekune definitely does that. It is a true grazing pig that actually requires less grain, and lower protein ratios to grow and maintain condition than traditional pork hogs. In short, it is the perfect homestead pig.
Kunekune pigs have a unique physiognomy – in the Maori language, kunekune roughly translates to round and fat – with short to medium upturned snouts ideal for grazing, large jowls, visor like ears to shade their eyes while grazing and two fleshy wattles the Maori called piri-piri. Their shape and stature is typical of a lard type pig – short, strong legs supporting a body shaped somewhat like a very large sausage. Hair varies from short to long and even curly. They also come in a variety of colors – solid black, brown or ginger; white or ginger spotted black or brown; high white with spots of black or brown; black or brown with patches of white; tri-color; and belted (known in the breed as the “Tapeka trait” for the pattern’s founding sow.)
This breed actually does best on pastures containing clover and mixed forage crops like turnip rather than perfect monoculture grass pasture. Like heritage hogs they can also be used to clean up windfall fruit in orchards and finished on acorns and other forest mast for a premium pork. Best of all, they don’t tear up the ground as they graze! This grass and mast heavy diet also means that their waste contains much less phosphorus and smells more like horse than hog.
Finally, the biggest selling feature of the Kunekune for us is their friendly and placid temperament. They are easy to handle, love belly rubs, aren’t inclined to roam far from home and don’t mind their caretaker’s presence during farrowing. Of course males still require respect during breeding periods and individual females can have their grumpy times as well, but overall, the Kunekune is defined by its placid nature.
Our foundation stock was carefully chosen and purchased from Kunekune Preserve and Corva Bella Farm, and will be carefully bred with an eye toward preservation of the breed characteristics. We anticipate having pastured pork and select breeding stock available some time in 2019.
You can see a video of our new arrivals in action on our YouTube video: Four Little Pigs