Tails Blog

Kunekune pigs for pets

Steve Coppell - Sunday, September 26, 2010

Kunekunes are small and friendly animals and for this reason they can become good pets.
Kunekune means plump in maori. They were first discovered in New Zealand, although genetic analysis indicates they are of Asian origin. There is considerable debate about how they came to arrive on New Zealand shores, but the most plausible theory is that whalers and sealers introduced them in the 19th century.

Actually by the late 1970s, this unique breed was on the brink of extinction, before a determined breeding program was set in place to re establish the breed. Today there are thousands of Kunekune pigs around the world.

One of the reasons Kunekunes make great pets is their colourful personalities. They are gentle, loving and affectionate animals that thrive on social interaction. They have personality plus. They adore tummy rubs. As well as human company, these little creatures love interaction with other animals. So it's a good idea to buy two at a time, even better if they are from the same litter. Don't be afraid to cross graze them with other species.

Unlike some breeds Kunekune boars are easy to handle and are good natured towards people, so both genders are pet possibilities. You should be aware that boars may act aggresively towards each other from time to time, and like all male pigs, will grow tusks as they mature.

You don't need huge paddocks to keep Kunekunes as long as there is sufficient grass available. They are grazing animals with higher fibre requirements than other pigs, so they need access to good quality pasture all year round.
Although not a substitute for grass, their diet can be supplemented with commercial pellots, fruits and vegetables if neccesary. This is especially important during the winter, as the grass loses some of its goodness and may be in shorter supply during this time. Regular feeding of scraps is also geat for bonding with your pigs. However don't feed them waste items such as fruit peel and corn cobs as they will not eat them, and avoid giving them celery and parsnips as these can cause blisters on their feet.

They might be small but you shouldn't underestimate their ability to escape. Sturdy fences are required to keep them in their paddocks and a waterproof, well ventilated shelter is essential to protect them from the elements. During winter, they love to stay warm and dry. In summer they tend to overheat easily so they like to wallow in mud to keep themselves cool. Alternatively, you could hose them down with water or provide a lined paddling area for them to cool off in. Unlike other pig breeds, Kunekunes don't usually root up the ground, but this is not always the case and some owners insist on having their pigs noses ringed. Most people believe pigs are dirty creatures, actually they are very clean animals that keep their toilet areas away from their feeding areas.

Before you comitt to owning Kunekune pigs do your homework. Check your local councils regulations.There are limitations on pig keeping in some areas.
When buying one look for the presence of tassels, a short snout, strong legs and feet.

Kunekunes are very intelligent animals and can be trained to perform a variety of tricks. Such as sitting on command, turning circles on the spot and lying down. Hand signals and voice commands are aboth effective training methods, make sure you have lots of tasty treats on hand to encourage and train because pigs are very motivated by food. Kunekune love apple, so these make ideal treats for training purposes.
Training to sit.
To begin, hold a treat in your hand above your pigs head and say "sit" while walking towards it.
This will encourage the pig to back up and sit down.
Praise your pig and reward with a treat when it sits.
Never push down on it back if it doesn't do as you have asked. Simply repeat the procedure until you get the desired results, and don't give it the treat until it has performed the task.
Kunekune pigs
Weight up to 90 kgs, although some boars may be larger and minitures are also available.
Their colours variey but are mostly black, black and white, brown, gold, tan, and cream.
They gestate for 116 days with litters of between 3 and 11 piglets.
Kunekune live to 15 years.

For more information you can contact New Zealand Kunekune Association at http://www.kunekune.co.nz/