We started our journey with Kunekune pigs in Spring 2016 with our first pair from Washington state, and soon added another trio from California. Starting out, some of the details of Kunekune world were difficult to understand. Let’s go over some Frequently Asked Questions!
Q: I heard Kunekunes are the smallest breed of pig- how big do they get?
A: Yes, they are the smallest official breed of pig, however that doesn’t mean they are small! The average size of a mature Kunekune pig is between 250 and 350 lb, depending on breeding, diet, and care.
Our pigs are in the 200-300 range at maturity, and that is perfect for us. We prioritize temperament and conformation to breed standard over the final weight of our pigs. When you see people advertising Kunekune as “mini pigs” or “pet pigs” – just remember, they will not be under 100 lb when grown unless you starve them! That’s not okay. If you want a pet pig, you need to want a 200+ lb animal for the next decade or better.
Q: When you look at a registered Kunekune pig’s papers, what do the weird names mean?
A: The line names come from either the farmer who SENT the pig to the US or the farmer who imported that pig to the US. They tell us the father’s father’s father’s father’s (etc.) line of origin, but not the complete lineage!
Things you need to know:
1. The line names are gender-specific.
(Sow line follows from the mother, Boar line follows from the father.)
2. The line names are gender-ordered.
(When you breed a Tapeka sow to an Andrew boar, male offspring are Andrew/Tapeka and female offspring are Tapeka/Andrew. SAME LITTER!)
3. When you look at a pedigree, the boar line follows the top line, and the sow line follows the bottom line through to the pig who belongs to that pedigree.
Q: What is a Tapeka gilt?? Why are there no Andrew gilts?
A Tapeka gilt is a female piglet born to a Tapeka line sow. There are no Tapeka boars or Andrew gilts because they take the line of their same-sex parent. If you want to mention the opposite-sex parent, you can say “She is a Tapeka out of an Andrew.” or “She is a Tapeka/Andrew line sow.”
Q: How do you tell the lines apart by looking at them?
A: That’s not always possible! Some lines are noteworthy for their distinctive characteristics, but by crossing lines and keeping opposite-sex offspring out of characteristic pigs, you throw that character onto a different line.
Example: The Jenny sow line is known for their “perfect heads” meaning round, fit standard, great head shape. When you breed a Jenny to a Ru boar and keep a boarling with a Jenny head intact to breed next year to a Wilson’s Gina sow- you may have Wilson’s Gina gilts with Jenny trait heads.
It’s not as straight-forward as one might hope! The best thing you can do is study conformation and set your priorities- meat, show conformation, color, etc. and select pigs that fit YOUR goals for your program. Don’t worry so much about the line/traits in a specific sow/boar line.
Q: I bought a purebred unregistered Kunekune! How do I register him?
A: You don’t. When you purchase an unregistered Kunekune pig, they are unable to be registered. “Purebred” doesn’t mean anything coming from unregistered stock with no genetic/pedigree tracing. Registered Kunekune pigs have been DNA verified to be 100% Kunekune pigs!
This is why we encourage people to only purchase breeding pigs from registered breeders so you have the option to register offspring or not. Buying unregistered animals locks you into lower sale prices and risks misinformation of breed/purebred status.
Q: How do you know the quality of a piglet before you buy it?
A: There are things that don’t tend to change with age- overall conformation/skeletal structure and color of an 8 week old piglet. The head shape is not fixed at this age, look at the parents for head shape reference, and know that it won’t set until age 2 years or so.
The best thing you can do when shopping for a piglet is ask the breeder about quality. Explain your goals for your program. Ask which piglet they would choose for your program and WHY!