How to Raise KuneKune Pigs for Meat

I’ve raised pure Kunekune pigs and Kuekune crosses. They’re good animals but you need to know what you are getting into.

Kunekune pigs should be raised outdoors, fed a vegetation-heavy diet, and generally not be allowed to get very fat. They grow well on grain-based feed with supplementation and fatten heavily on traditional hog feed. They should be butchered small, usually between 6 and 12 months old.

Kunekunes are not regular hogs, nor are they all that people make them out to be. Let’s talk small pigs.

Is the Kunekune Pig Good for Meat?

The Kunekune can be a good meat pig. The meat is dark and deeply marbled and can produce a lot of lard if they are fed heavily. While they make good pork, it is a specialty hog and it’s not accepted by the commercial industry. They have small bodies and are known for smaller litter sizes, so they’re not for everyone.

The kunekune is a small pig with a lot of amount of variability in its size. They range from common butcher weights of 50 to 100 pounds at 7 months, all the way to 100-200 pounds at 18 months, although I dont recommend letting one go that long intentionally.

There are some larger lines of Kunes being bred that can reach 230-250 pounds as early as 12 months and have amazing bodies. I find this really interesting and have considered getting genetics from one of these breeders. Those animals are incredibly expensive to buy.

One highly reputable breeder, Puget Sound Pastures, sells Kunekune semen for artificial insemination and that’s quite affordable. Their animals are quite large for the breed and are of genuine champion class. It’s quite affordable too. I may try and do that in the future.

Kunekunes are a small lard pig. That means they have a short mid-section and tend to put on fat easily. The extra fatty tendencies make for richer meat with significantly more marbling than modern commercial pork. That’s the primary reason the pork is so delicious.

Some of the more comercial lines of kunekune are bred to have a longer mid-section and a more muscular build than the norm. They are often refered to as an inproved Kunekune and continue trying to improve the breed. Again, Puget Sound Pastures probably has the bnest genetics best out there.

While not a purebred, this guy has been a great boar for our operation.

The breed is reminiscent of the small homestead hogs of old. Compact and easy to manage, and they fatten well. But they’re small. That’s the main problem. Commercial pigs have had a sort of a weight and size standard for at least 200 years, and that’s 200-250 pounds live slaughter weight.

Many Kunes from smaller genetic lines will never reach that weight and it may take 2 years for them to get close. I say don’t try to make a small pig look like a large breed at butcher day. It ends up costing a lot more in feed. I recommend butchering by 12 months at the latest and prefer 6 to 8 months for myself.

They are smaller, but at an age where they are getting a bit more fatty yet are still pretty efficient on feed. Since we have breeders and raise our own litters, I can deal with rightfully small pigs. We will butcher 20 to 40 in a year for own own use and for sale.

So, the Kunekune pig is not the same as a commercial pig. They are about 1/4 to 1/2 smaller than standard hogs. They are not always cut up and processed the same way, and are not sold to the same customer base. I love them and the similar breed; the Vietnamese Pot Bellied Pig.

One thing you need for pigs, no matter your raising system, is a parasitic worm treatment. The best swine dewormer is Fenbendazole. It’s known by the brand name Safeguard. Safeguard is available as a medicated corn/alfalfa pellet. It’s the only way I can worm my pigs since they won’t stand still for an injection of Ivermectin. It’s easy and cheap.

I use the multi-species version because it’s what’s available in my local store and I can use it for my chickens too. It’s the most effective swine wormer and the easiest to administer. I use it on all weaned piglets and adults twice a year. Don’t go without it.

Housing Kunekune pigs

A simple lean-to or a-frame is the most common shelter. Shelters are commonly made from pallets or common board, and sometimes outdoor treated plywood. They need protection from rain, snow, and cold wind. Kunekune pigs excel in an outdoor environment such as pasture or paddocks with basic shelter.

There’s really nothing special to do with their housing and the crudest setup can work swell for adults and feeders. The time to be fussy about shelter is during farrowing and when there are unweaned piglets. They absolutely need to have a dry environment with decent wind protection.

As far as fencing, the most common I see used is hog panels with t-posts. That’s what I have in my pens. It works very well but it’s quite expensive if you are trying to fence in a big area with it. For larger areas, electric fencing is popular. I know several people who use a combination of physical fence and electric.

In my larger pen, I just use woven pasture fence. That seems to do fine holding in my growing pigs and my sows. The boar, on the other hand, he’s way too stubborn and will walk under the fence no matter how tight I pull it. He gets a panel pen with t-posts every 8 feet.

A decent fence is a must. Without it, don’t think about raising pigs. Put up a stout fence or pen before getting any swine.

This purebred Kunekune was fed a grain-heavy diet for lard production. The shaggy hair can hide just how fatty they can get.

How to Feed Kunekune Pigs

Kunekunes can be fed a regular hog ration until 5 months old, then they need a diet less calorie and protein-rich. They do well with a diet high in fresh vegetative material such as pasture grass, tree leaves, root vegetables, and other wild fodder. Some people feed fermented grains and kitchen scraps too.

We have tried a lot of different feed options. The one I go with the most nowadays is a fermented corn or corn/oat blend with added minerals and protein. We also give our pigs fresh greens daily, as much as they can eat.

The old standard is to feed them 3 percent of theirt body weight a day in dry feed and adjust up or down as needed based on the body condition of the animnal.

Jerusalem artichole tubers is one of my favorite feed crops to grow.

I grow some feed crops for our pigs. I’m big on both being self-sufficient and avoiding chemical-laced products where I can. We specifically grow:

  • jerusalem artichoke
  • potato
  • sunflower
  • sugarbeet
  • squash
  • corn
  • poplar hay
  • white mulberry hay.

That, plus my amazing biochar is the foundation for the feed I’m experimenting with producing.

If you want to buy regular pig feed for your Kunes, that’s okay, but they will probably need other types of supplemental feed after around 5 or 6 months old. If you do mix your own feed, you might want to add some minerals.

Pig mineral, often called premix, is cheap and does help pigs to reach their full potential. Pigs often have some deficiency in some minerals and correcting that really helps their grow.

My local feed store sells a vitamin/mineral mix for sows. The clerk recomended it for young piglets too and says he sees improved health and growth from it. It’s cheap, but I don’t feel I need it with our animals having fresh grees pasture crops. But, I’m going to add it to the feed this winter when there’s no green left.

Fresh green fodder (exept tree hay) is chuck full of a variety of vitamins. Vitamins are important for immunity and disease resistance, as well as good body function. If you’re not buying a feed that comes fortified with vitamins, be sure your pigs have good vitamins coming from elsewhere.

I’m giong to say again that we don’t focus on commercal production. Although I do butcher some for sale, my main focus is raising pigs as part of a sustainable homestead operation. My goal is to raise cheap, healthy pork foe my family in a low-maintanence, sustainable, and efficient manner.

I have raises Kunekunes, Potbellies, and American Guinea Hogs, as wel as crosses between them. Currently, i have mostly potbelly genetics but my new boar is either 1/2 or 1/4 kunekune and one of my sows is a potbelly/Kune cross.

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I practice what I preach. Here in rural west Michigan, me, my wife, and 5 young kids work together to grow food, raise animals, and grow aninmal feed on just 1 acre. I teach homesteading classes locally, and help people where I can.

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