Kune Kune Pigs

By Joanne Rowe / February 23, 2014
new zealand pig breeds

Kune Kune are a very popular pig from New Zealand. During the 19th century it was imported to New Zealand, from Asia, by whalers. The origins of the pig before this time are unclear.

In the early 1900s the pig grew in popularity with New Zealand’s native Maori. In Maori the word Kune Kune means ‘fat and round’. The Maori prized the pig due to its friendly nature, its tendency not to roam, and its great grazing ability (the pig could be fattened on grass alone).

During the mid-20th century the popularity of the pig dropped; modern commercial breeds were gaining recognition and were preferred for use in pork production. More traditional breeds like the Kune Kune were slowly made redundant by their more efficient cousins.

The breed was thought to be nearly extinct by the 1980s. There was estimated to be only around fifty purebred Kune Kune left in New Zealand. But thanks to the efforts of a handful of New Zealand Kune Kune breeders a recovery program was put in place that helped save the breed.

In the 1990s the breed was imported into the UK for the first time. Later, around the mid-90s, they were imported into the USA however it wasn’t until after 2007 that the breed became more commercially available and widespread.

Kune Kune Appearance

The Kune Kune is famous for being a little hairy pig that comes in a wide range of colours and spots. Some pigs have straight or curly hair; others can have long or short hair. They can have various hair colours, including; cream, ginger, gold, white, tan, and black. The unique characteristic of a Kune Kune are the tassels (pire pire) which can be found hanging from their lower jaw. The shape of the Kune Kune is small and round, with short legs, and a short, up-turned snout.

The breed does vary in size, the smallest Kune Kunes are around 21 inches in height (measured from foot to shoulder), and the biggest are usually around 30 inches high. A fat Kune Kune can have the appearance of being bigger than these sizes though. A healthy Kune Kune should weigh between 60kg and 200 kg when fully grown (pigs are usually fully grown between 3-5 years).

The Kune Kune as a Pet

Today the Kune Kune is more popular as ever. Worldwide there are now more breeders than ever before. These days you don’t have to travel far before being able to see these pigs in person. Official breeder’s clubs can now be found in various countries, dedicated to promoting an established standard. This involves recording the breeding of the pig, maintaining a pedigree system, and helping to promote good practice. These clubs also publish a yearly newsletter and run discussion forums. I believe this to be one of the Kune Kune’s biggest advantages over the Micro Pig.

There are no breeding clubs for the Micro Pig in the USA, UK, or the rest of the world. There’s no established standard for the breed; no family and genetic history is ever recorded; and there are no official Micro Pig clubs or pedigree systems in place. These are just some of the reasons why the Micro Pig is criticised by other breeders.

A Kune Kune can make a great pet pig. They’re small, friendly and enjoy the company of humans. They’re not prone to wandering and have a tendency not to root (pigs that root will annihilate a nice looking garden or paddock). With these great traits, and established clubs helping to support the breed, the Kune Kune is a serious alternative to a Micro Pig.

To learn more about this wonderful, little, hairy pig check out the British Kune Kune Pig Society website:


About the author

Joanne Rowe

Joanne and her family live on a 140 acre farm in Lancashire. Joanne's family have been in farming over 120 years - they breed a wide range animals including pigs, cows, sheep, and chickens.

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