We decided to get a pig last summer. I had never owned a pig and was excited to jump in and see what these funny little creatures were like to own. I knew I didn't want a giant pig and I knew I wanted a friendly breed and also one for meat, so I was lucky enough to find what for me is the perfect breed, the Kunekune!
Kunekunes are of Asian origin but have been in New Zealand since the 19th century. They were an important part of Maori culture, and Kunekune means "fat and round" in their native language. Kunekunes are the smallest of the meat breeds ad are known to be friendly, easy going, good mothers and intelligent. In fact they root less than most pigs because of their short snout and actually graze on grass too!
After owning our Kunekune for several months we had the opportunity to get 3 more so of course we did! We slaughtered one and it is the best pork I have ever tasted! With the 3 we have now I am going to try to breed and am so excited to have piglets.
All pigs need basic care, shelter, food water and love. Pigs also need a place to wallow (yes - be in the mud) so they can regulate their temperature when it's too hot. Our piggies eat EVERYTHING! So all our compost and extra food goes to them, I also feed them hay and a little ration of grain everyday. It's easy to overfeed a pig as they seem so hungry all the time, so make sure your pig is staying a healthy weight. I have automatic water in their pen which always helps minimize chores. I have straw bedding in their shelter and they seem to love to make nests in it. Pigs are very social and need attention to thrive, especially if alone. I let mine out during the day and they roam around our few acres, and with a "piggy piggy call" and some grain they come running into the pen to be locked in at night. From my experience these pigs are incredibly easy going and adorable.
I love my animals, so you might be wondering how we could slaughter one. Just because we are raising the pigs for meat does not mean we withhold love or proper care for them. We honor the animal we are slaughtering by doing our best to give it a good life while we raise it, and thank it for it's life. Death makes me uncomfortable and sad, so I am not the one to make the kill. But I have chosen to eat meat, so I feel better knowing the animal had a good life and was loved, but this still doesn't mean it's easy.
Though I have not owned any other breed of pig the Kunekune has my heart for it's easy going ways, adorable little faces and tasty meat! Stay tuned for a post when there are piglets!
Photos by Lauren Ross