Monday, June 16, 2014

We Have Pigs!

We all know bacon is awesome and the price of pork is pretty up there. I had been told that pigs are typically not a cost-effective homestead food source because most breeds cost a lot to feed. Enter: the pasture pig. I didn't know there was such a thing until a couple of years ago, but there are breeds that feed primarily on pasture grasses and hay just like most cows. In our research for pasture pig breeds, we discovered the kune kune pig - a relatively small, gentle natured pig that fattens well on pasture. Some say they don't root, but I beg to differ. They may not root as much as some other breeds, but they do root some.

This breed was introduced to New Zealand in the 19th century and likely interbred with other feral introduced species. They were rediscovered in the 1980s with an estimated 50 purebred kune kunes remaining. Efforts to revitalize the population continue to this day and you may find that many breeders raise purebreeds for this purpose or as show pigs, making them rather expensive. However, if you are patient, you can often find a good deal from pet breeders.  We found our pigs with a breeder who had an accidental litter and she was letting them go for $100/pig. Show and purebreds typically go for more than ten times that, so be patient and keep your eyes out for Craigslist ads if you are interested in this breed or do the work to find a small farm that raises them for farming purposes.

These guys are clean animals. Our goats poop everywhere, but pigs pick a spot away from their food and bed for pooping. You can even train them to use a particular spot and some people litter box train them and keep them inside (you need a pretty big litter box and a fairly large house, these guys don't stay tiny). In my opinion, these pigs make great backyard pets or easy-to-raise pork. These two are expected to reach between 75 and 150 pounds based on previous litters from the same parents. Kune kunes generally stand about two feet tall at the shoulder. Because they are docile, don't tend to roam, and enjoy the company of people, these pigs are touted as a great breed for first-time pig owners.

Here are our young piggies at about 2 months old back in May:


Pigness Everdeen

Gale Hogthorne

This breed is known for rolling over when their bellies are scratched. They also wag their tails and like to play with toys.  This YouTube video demonstrates some of this behavior:

(Sorry, Blogspot is being difficult and I can't embed the video.  Please follow the link to see it.)

Since getting these two, I learned two things about them: 1) they may pick a single place to poop, but Pigness pees in the pool and 2) they like to eat goat poop. Image

Here you can see that they do root in the dirt spots:

They still love a tummy rub:

They love splashing around in the pool:

The two piggies chase each other for fun and they are so freaking adorable running around and having fun in the yard. They seem to be having a real blast.

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