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All about the KuneKune pig Feb 24, 2022 @ 10:10

Officially recognized as the smallest pig breed globally, Kunekunes (pronounced koo-nee-koo-nee) are gaining in popularity with small shareholders due to their highly domestic nature, ease of care and fantastic personalities.

Although Kunekune are small pigs, they are not what most would consider miniature or "teacup." They are simply smaller than typical pigs. Commercial hogs can reach 900+ lbs, a fully grown Kunekune tends to top out at a maximum potential weight of approximately 450 lbs. So, although they are a small pig breed, they are far from tiny when grown.

Known for being less destructive on pasture than other pig breeds due to their propensity for grazing rather than rooting, Kunekunes are the perfect addition for most any size farm. They tend not to challenge fencing and have an incredible feed conversion of 2:1. Kunekune translates to "fat and round" from traditional Maori.

There are multiple theories as to the origin of Kunekune Pigs. Some say that the Polynesians brought the pigs with them when they arrived in New Zealand, but there is little fossil evidence to corroborate the theory. No evidence of pigs in New Zealand exists until the 1700s when European immigrants let their pigs loose on the mainland and surrounding islands.

Others contend that the pigs are descendants of Captain Cooker pigs that have been crossbred with other pig breeds such as the Old Poland, one of the few breeds to share the wattled trait of Kunekunes.

As the Maori people began to rely on new, more European means of subsistence, the population of the Kunekune began to dwindle significantly. This decline continued unabated until the pigs faced near extinction in the 1980s.

​Once wildlife park owners Michael Willis and John Simister began the arduous task of replenishing the breed, approximately fifty purebred Kunekune were left in all of New Zealand. From the available specimens, only ten sows and four boars were selected for conservation as they were the ones that best represented the Kunekune breed as a whole.

As their project progressed, and in conjunction with Hilldale Game Farm in Hamilton, New Zealand (who were also working to conserve the breed), the herd grew until now when it occupies multiple countries worldwide. Today, every Kunekune can be traced back to those original fourteen pigs in New Zealand through extensive registries.

Currently, there are a total of twenty-seven recognized lines in North America. Sixteen sow lines and eleven boar lines. However, the idea of lines is based solely on the time of import from either the United Kingdom or New Zealand and does not represent distinctly different genetic variations. As mentioned earlier, every recognized line is simply a combination of those pigs.

That's why, when looking for Kunekunes, COI (coefficient of inbreeding) and Line should only account for a small part of the selection process. Conformation to standard is far more important, as is your end use purpose of the animal. To ensure that you are obtaining bonafide Kunekune genetics and the attributes they are known for, it is incumbent that you purchase registered stock from a reputable breeder.

Kunekunes make great pets and produce a deep red and well-marbled meat. By working with a diligent breeder of registered stock, you will ensure that you achieve the best of what the breed has to offer and better ensure your success.

To learn more about Kunekune pigs, please visit

Shaman Crowe

Silver Prairie Stock and Poultry


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