Kunekune pigs are easy to care for and breed. The sows are excellent mothers and require little intervention or help with farrowing. These are my recommendations for someone thinking about getting into breeding Kunekunes especially when purchasing breeding stock from us.
Our Halbert Herd is currently made up of 7 boar bloodlines and 8 sow bloodlines. It is important to pay attention the the inbreeding coefficient and to select your breeding pairs to be unrelated at least up to Grandparents. We like our Kunekunes to be around the 200 pounds size and not bigger. Our customers are mainly hobby farmers who are looking for pets or homesteaders looking to raise their own pasture pork and want a smaller more manageable pig. If your farm goals are to sell pork, you may want to look into other Kunekune breeders that produce a larger faster growing pig.
How Many Pigs Do I need?
For your pigs to be happiest, you're going to need 4 pigs. Boys can get girls pregnant as early as 4 months. Girls generally go into heat for the first time at 6 months old. Then they go into heat every 2-3 weeks. They could potentially get pregnant as early as 6 months. At 6 months females are not developed enough to carry piglets and are still growing themselves. It is best to separate unaltered males and females by 4 months old. So you'll need 2 girls and 2 boys so each pig has a friend. Or you could get 2 neutered males to keep as companions to your breeding stock. Or you could do 2 girls (gilts) with 1 boar and a neutered male (barrow). You will not be able to put your breeding pair together till the female is big enough and this could be anywhere from 18 - 24 months old depending on growth rate.
What do I need for farrowing?
Once you have bred your female, the gestation period is 3 months, 3 weeks, and 3 days. You'll need a farrowing pen set up and ready to go. I move my sows in 1 week before expected due date so they can get familiar with their new home and prepare it for their babies. Mother's like to build a nest for the birth. They will need a draft free shelter with crush rails. The crush rails are the most important thing if you want to minimize piglet loss. Pigs like to lean against something when they lay down and the crush rails give an extra space for the piglets to escape. You should also have a heat lamp behind the crush rails so the piglets go to a safe place to sleep. This area is called the creep. Piglets cannot regulate their body temperature and will try to sleep under mom if they are cold. It is the saddest thing on the farm to wake up to a crushed piglet.
Another nice to have feature is being able to let the mom have an area the piglets cannot go. Or letting her out for a hour or so during the day for a break. When the piglets are about 3 weeks old the moms will want a break from the piglets. They really do appreciate a little alone time and then are happily reunited with their babies.
I have a separate blog post on farrowing huts. But here are some pictures. We currently use port-a-huts and have either home made crush rails out of 2x4's or if you see the small narrow black pipe, that is the crush rails that port-a-hut makes. There is more room for the mom but the "creep area is very small.
Vaccinating your pigs
You should be prepared to give your own shots if you are wanting to breed Kunekunes. Vaccine requirements differ for pigs depending on area. You will want to work with your veterinarian to come up with the protocol that is right for you. Piglets generally need an iron shot somewhere between 3-5 days old.
Weaning and Rehoming
We wean our piglets at 8 weeks old. All breeders do things a littler differently. Many will wait months before deciding to offer a piglet as breeding quality. This gives the breeder time to evaluate growth rate and other attributes before committing a pig to breeding quality. Since, most of our customers are looking for pets they like to bond with their piglets as early as possible, this is why we have them picked up at 8 weeks.
Another tough decision you need to consider is what are you going to do with non-breeding quality piglets? Only the best piglets that meet breed standards should leave your farm not spayed or neutered. As a responsibly breeder you want to make sure you are not introducing issues into your herd or others. This is why most farms are going to grow out non-breeding quality for food. You can castrate your boys relatively easily on your own or take them to a vet and it is pretty affordable. However, females can cost anywhere from $500 - $2000 to get spayed which is way more than you'll be able to sell them for. We've also had piglets born with hernias, my vet charges me over $400 for a hernia repair. A pig with a defect like that is not considered breed quality. A lot of farms are not going to incur this additional expense and will cull the piglet. They cannot justify paying that type of money while trying to run a profitable business. These are all the tough decisions that farmer need to make on a day to day basis. It is best to have these decisions made before you get started so when the time comes you already have your business plan.