Kunekune pigs may not be as popular as pot-bellied pigs, but more and more people are getting them for pets. Like the pot-bellied pig, kunekune are small domestic pigs. But unlike pot-bellies, they have long hair and are originally from New Zealand.
Pronounced "koo-nee koo-nee," and translated to "fat and round," these pigs are very similar to pet pot-bellied pigs. Some argue they are even easier to care for than their less hairy relatives.
Getting a Kunekune Pig
Since this breed of pig was brought back from near extinction, several breeders in New Zealand and the United Kingdom do exist. Finding these pigs outside of these places can be a bigger task. Breeders in a couple of states in the U.S. are out there, as well as a few other places, so check out kunekune breeder listings to find a breeder near you. If you live in a place where breeders are prevalent, you may be able to rescue one.
Your breeder will help you in raising your new piglet and should be able to answer all your questions about your kunekune. Some people recommend getting two kunekune pigs at the same time; if you decide later on to give your single pig a companion, it may be harder for the older pig to accept the newcomer.
Kunekune are identified by their hairy coat. They have longer hair than pot-bellied pigs 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 as they go through a massive shed in the summer and so may look like a completely different pig than they do in the winter months.
A kunekune can grow to be between 100 to 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. 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 miniature pigs, 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 and then ask those people how much their pigs weigh and how tall they are.
If you choose to house your kunekune indoors, 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. They prefer to move indoors and out, so make sure there is easy access to the outdoors. Since kunekune can grow to be up to 400 pounds, they need a decent amount of space to roam about and lie down. If you don't have enough space to accommodate 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 thrive when they are able 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; 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.
Aside from the occasional check-up by an exotics vet, a Leptospirosis or Erysipelas vaccine every 6 months (depending on where you live), a deworming every 6 months, a bath after rolling in the mud, and proper feeding, kunekune are relatively easy to care for. Provide them with ample room to roam and a place to graze and they will be happy pigs.
Unlike pet pot-bellied pigs, kunekune are usually kept in outdoor environments and do well just eating grass. But if a high-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 at least some fresh pasture should be available at all times when there is grass.
In the summer months, their diet should be a combination of 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 percent) 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.