If you are thinking about buying a Kunekune pig then this is the place to start.
Before purchasing a kunekune pig, there are a number of things to consider:
Firstly, Kunekune pigs are intelligent and engaging, they need space in which to be a pig and they need companionship. Can you provide a safe, secure and stimulating outdoor environment with suitable accommodation and fencing?
Kunekune pigs are very simple and easy to keep but they do still need daily care. Does that fit in with your lifestyle?
Whilst most Kunekune will graze happily on grass, some will dig. Would you be happy to have your garden or field dug by a pig?
It is recommended that you keep a maximum of five pigs to an acre; do you have enough land? Keeping them in the house is not an option. It is in fact illegal, and they need outside space.
You can expect your Kunekune pigs to live for up to 15 years. At the time of writing, the oldest known Kunekune is 21 years of age! They vary in size from 60cm to 77cm (24" to 30") high at the shoulder and weigh between 64 kg – 100kg (140-220 lbs). Although they are much smaller than other traditional breeds of pig, you should visit some to get an idea of how big they grow, especially if you are going to keep them as adults. Please also read the related article on ‘Micropigs’.
If you have decided that Kunekune pigs are right for you, the next consideration will be your reason for keeping them. Are you looking for companion pigs, pigs for breeding or are you a smallholder hoping to raise them for meat? This is one of the first questions a breeder will ask; the answer to this will help them with your choices and will also help you to plan.
Once you have made the decision to keep pigs, you need to register your property with defra and get a CPH (County Parish Holding number); this is free. The number identifies the location of your property and is used mainly to help trace/locate livestock. Obtaining one is a simple process, and can be done by telephoning the RPA (Rural Payments Agency) on 03000 200 301.
To move any pig from one premises to another, you require a movement licence. This is done online via the eAML2 service. The breeder you buy your pigs from will register you and give you a movement licence when you go to collect your pigs. You will need to confirm your pigs have arrived on your holding by either phoning Animal Health or online. Instructions are on the movement licence.
On some properties and areas of land, you may need planning permission to keep livestock. Please check with your local council before purchasing stock. Some house deeds specify that you cannot keep pigs or poultry. Pigs can be very noisy. If you have close neighbours, you should discuss with them your plans to keep pigs before you bring them onto the property.
Once you have decided to purchase some Kunekune pigs, you will need to decide whether you want to buy an older pig or rear piglets.
If you are looking for piglets, BKKPS has a dedicated page on the website for litters currently available to purchase. Older pigs are advertised on the Sale page. All pigs advertised on these pages are pedigree Kunekunes.
You may find it helpful to read the 'Breed Standard' article, the ‘Guide to Keeping Kunekune Pigs’ article and also to watch the BKKPS film on ‘How to Select Kunekune’. These will help you to choose good pigs and ensure that you are prepared for owning them.
When you start to look for Kunekune pigs, or you go to select your Kunekune piglets from a litter, you will begin to appreciate the natural diversity within the breed. The Society aims to encourage and maintain this natural diversity and to encourage its healthy features, so look for good healthy piglets that fall within the breed standard. The breeder you visit will be able to answer a lot of commonly asked questions and should be able to introduce you to the parents of your piglets; they can advise you on the best choice of piglet within any litter, dependent on your specific requirements.
In general, expect your pig to be covered in long hair, which can be straight, wavy or curly. It is common for older pigs to suffer hair loss and as long as this is not due to mange, mites or obvious skin irritation, it is likely to be perfectly normal. Kunekune pigs are born in a wide range of colours, from cream through gold, tan and brown to black. They also come in a variety of spotty colours. They have a medium to short head with either prick or semi-lop ears. Their body is not long and lean like a commercial pig, nor short and pot bellied like the Vietnamese variety; it is somewhere in the middle! An interesting feature unique to Kunekune pigs is the pair of tassels under their chin called Pire Pire.
A key characteristic that sets this breed apart from others is its steady temperament and engaging nature, which makes them extremely easy to handle. They are very gentle, curious pigs and are ideally suited to the new pig keeper who may be intimidated by larger, more boisterous pigs. This temperament means that they make ideal companion pigs, but are also wonderful to be around if kept for breeding or for meat.
If you are looking for companion pigs then there are a number of options available to you depending on your preferences.
Female pigs will come into season every 21 days and, although it is difficult to see any changes, they can be a bit grumpy with each other and you at that time.
A castrated male pig and a gilt can be the ideal combination as the castrate will balance out the gilt’s hormones a little. This is also a good combination if you think you might breed in the future. Castrated male pigs tend to be so laid back that they are practically horizontal and make ideal companion pigs.
Male piglets who are sold as companion pigs should be castrated by the breeder prior to selling them. Entire (uncastrated) boars do not make suitable companions. Both entire males and castrates will grow tusks (actually long teeth) but they can be trimmed by a vet.
Kunekune are herd animals and should not be sold as single pigs; you should expect to buy piglets/pigs in pairs or more. The exception to this would be if you were offering a home that already has pigs.
All pedigree registered pigs/piglets MUST have been ear tagged by the breeder BEFORE they leave the breeder to travel to their new home. This tag will be used to register their pedigree and the certificate you receive from the BKKPS or the breeder should have this unique number on it. Pigs can be registered on the breeding register if you wish to breed from them and on the pet register if you do not.
The breeder you buy from should have treated your pigs/piglets for mange, worms and mites. They should be able to advise you on when they will next need treatment and what product they used. They may also have started a vaccination program for Erysipelas.
Prices vary from breeder to breeder and geographically too, although you should expect to pay much more for good breeding pigs and companion pigs.
There are often good, registered Kunekunes looking for new homes through no fault of their own and they are listed on the ‘Pigs’ section of ‘The Discussion Board’.
There is a wealth of other information on the BKKPS website. Please take time to read as much as you can before making the decision to buy Kunekune pigs. We would also encourage you to join the society to take advantage of all the help and support we offer. We have regional reps in most areas and a large number of dedicated members and breeders as well as additional support on the member’s part of the website.
N.B. In the interests of the Kunekune breed, we would always encourage you to buy pedigree registered stock and so help to preserve this very special and rare breed of pig.
Please remember - A PIG IS FOR LIFE, NOT JUST FOR CHRISTMAS/BIRTHDAY ETC.!