Pronounced "koo-nee koo-nee," and translated to "fat and round," these pigs are very similar to pet pot bellied pigs. The kunekune is a small breed of domestic pig from New Zealand. Kunekune are hairy, with a rotund build and may bear wattles (or piri piri) hanging from their lower jaws. Their color ranges from black and white, to ginger, cream, gold-tip, black, brown and multicolored. They have a docile, friendly nature, and – like the pot-bellied pig – are now often kept as pets.
Kunekune are identified by their hair coat. They have longer hair than pot bellies and the majority of them have tassels, also called pire, that hang off their lower jaw like a wattle.
Their coat comes in a variety of colors, and the hair itself can vary from silky to bristly or coarse.
Depending on the time of year or season, kunekune hair will also vary. They go through a massive shed in the summer and may look like a completely different pig than they do in the winter months.
A kunekune can grow to be between 100-400 pounds (although different breeders offer differently sized pigs).
It will take a couple of years for your pig to reach their full grown size, but they should be offered ample grass and not malnourished during their growing period.
Miniature kunekune are classified by height. If your breeder says they have mini's you should ask for proof. Malnourished pigs will end up smaller than their healthy siblings but some breeders have bred down their lines to remain relatively small. If you are dealing with one of these breeders, ask for several references of people who have purchased their pigs. Ask those people how much their pigs weigh, and how tall they are
If you choose to house your kunekune indoors be sure to provide them with a place, or room, of their own. Many people build them little pens into a corner of their house and others provide them with a toddler bed or even a tent to sleep in.
Since kunekune can grow to be up to 400 pounds (depending on which breeder), they need a decent amount of space to roam about and lie down. If you don't have enough space to accomodate a 400 pound pig, then you shouldn't get a kunekune.
Most kunekune owners keep their pigs in a barn or outside setting. Since their main diet is grass, they are allowed to come and go in a secure fenced in area (often with a live wire) and sleep on sawdust or another kind of bedding in a well-ventilated shelter.
They don't do well in heat so providing them with shade and ventilation is a must. If they get too hot they will roll around in the mud to keep their bodies cool and keep the flies from biting them. Pigs only sweat on their snouts so it is difficult for them to regulate their body temperature.
Unlike pet pot bellied pigs, kunekune are usually kept in outdoor environments and do well just eating grass. But if quality pasture is not available, whether it be due to a drought or just not enough grass to feed a hungry adult pig, pot bellied pig pellets and grass pellets can be used to supplement the diet.
An adult kunekune will eat 2-3 pounds of pellets a day (equal parts of pot bellied pig and grass pellets) if they don't have a lot of grass. Add hot water to the pellets to create a mash. Younger pigs will eat smaller amounts, but some fresh pasture should be available at all times when there is grass.
In summer months their diet should be grass and fresh vegetables. In the fall and spring, you can add in apples for more fiber and in the winter most people substitute the pellet mixture for grass. Higher protein pellets (up to 16%) should be offered in very cold weather.
Overall, kunekune are social, intelligent animals that live an average of 15-20 years. By taking good care of them you will be sure your pig is around for a long time.
Kunekune boars are fertile at 6 to 7 months and the gilts (young females) can become pregnant at 5 months. However, gilts are not normally put to the boar until they are a year old. The sows are good mothers and the litters vary in size averaging around seven piglets.
How to care for a Kunekune:
The natural habitat for kunekune is woodland and pasture. They love being outdoors and are suitable for a range of climates, in addition to being ideal for large gardens. For keeping them as pets, it is best to buy an arc (a house for the pigs) at least 2 m in size, depending on the number of pigs.
When you bring a baby pig home you first need to gain their trust in order to have them accept handling readily, then work on training basic behaviors (such as leash walking and house training). You must also work on being able to restrain your pot bellied pig so necessary grooming and medical care can be done as needed. Although most pigs quickly outgrow being picked up, it is worthwhile to get them used to being picked up as they will be more willing to be handled and restrained if they are used to being carried.
Positive reinforcement is the key to success with most pets, including Kunekune pigs. They won't respond to force or punishment very well at all. To a pig, the most obvious kind of positive reinforcement is food. Most pigs will be happy to work for small tidbits such as raisins, small pieces of apple or other fruit, or even pieces of their regular rations. When you are trying to tame a stubborn piglet, you may even want to hand feed them all of their food, since the quickest way to a pig's heart is through their stomach.
However, obesity is a common problem, so keep treat foods to a minimum and make sure you are not overfeeding your pig by feeding full meals while using extra food for training.