Updated: Sep 23
Believe it or not, we both weren't on the same page in the beginning....
If you’ve been here awhile, you’ve heard this story. But it’s worth sharing again.
You might be surprised to find out that I, Dayna, was dead set AGAINST pigs from the start. Like non-negotiably, never getting them or considering them for our farm.
Before we were even married Josh thought he’d try to setup a day for us to swing by a farm to meet a few KuneKune pigs. He was really pushing for them. He had done some research and was very intrigued about the breed. Before he could even try to sell them to me… I had him cancel our visit to that farm.
I believed every misconception about pigs and could not be convinced otherwise. (Sorry josh)
Months later I was out of town for the weekend on a trip. We made a pit stop at the Virginia Safari Park on the way to our final destination. Little did I know a beautiful KuneKune sow with 6 piglets would be a part of what we’d experience. I quickly realized everything I thought about them was wrong.
They all welcomed us at the fence with their loud, deep grunts. They loved ear scratches and even rolled over for belly rubs. The most shocking part? They were on beautiful pasture. They didn’t destroy the ground like I originally assumed they would. I watched them in amazement as they wagged their tails, happily grazing the grass.
The rest of the weekend I had this need to surprise josh with his very own group of pigs. How could I not have given them, or him, a chance? After hours, I found several that would fit our needs.
Fast forward a few days, I get home to Josh with a big smile on his face. I should have seen this coming.... There were three, absolutely perfect KuneKune piglets waiting for me. After I told him my plan (and what happened over the weekend) we both couldn’t stop laughing.
Years later, KuneKune now make up the majority of the livestock we raise. It’s pretty obvious I am completely smitten with them. It’s just pretty ironic how it all transpired. Now, I make it a daily effort to educate the public about the breed and pigs in general. I know many of you have the same assumption I did about pigs. That’s why I am always welcoming those with questions, to ask. It’s why I always take the time to show others our pigs and prove that they are something special.
These pigs will always have my heart.
Let's jump right into a list of Frequently Asked Questions.
The perfect place to start. Here's a list of things we get
asked on a weekly basis.
Do KuneKune root/destroy pasture?
This is rely solely on your management practices. There are three major factors when answering this question. Are they purebred KuneKune? The reason I ask this is because of their unique characteristics they meet the ground with their bottom jaw, which naturally leads them to graze grass. If you look at any other type of breed they have a long, narrow snout. Which is used as a shovel to dig in the soil to search for bugs/added nutrients. How is your pasture management? You can't expect to have pristine pastures if you are confining your pigs, along with any other animal. If you want to keep the integrity of your pastures it's important to rotate them on the land available & have the proper stocking rate (number of animals your pastures can realistically house). What is your feeding protocol like? If your pigs aren't on a balanced diet and or fed enough they will search for those nutrients elsewhere aka the soil.
Do you have to feed your pigs or do they just survive off pasture?
I never say it's impossible to raise your pigs on pasture alone, as it's not BUT it's extremely unlikely and I've never seen it done properly. Pigs require very specific minerals and lysine to thrive. They are not ruminants, like a cow, they are omnivores. They require a balanced pig ration to live a long and happy life.
Our KuneKune pigs are separated by age group and purpose. This is mainly to better control their feed intake. All too often I see herds ranging from a few weeks, to mature breeding stock mingling in a pasture together. While it “works” it’s not ideal & here’s why.
Young piglets need more feed intake than older pigs. Young piglets (a few weeks to about 4 months) eat several pounds a day. This will vary based on litter size but it boils down to body condition. That group will receive as much feed they can eat twice a day while maintaining a healthy body condition. This is to maximize the timeframe where they can convert feed into body mass most effectively.
The next age group ranges from 5 months to about 9 months. They receive about 3lbs of feed a day per pig, split into two feedings. This is to maintain their body condition and support their growth in this equally as important timeframe. The reason you want to cut back feed at this time is because they will not be able to effectively convert that all into muscle. It’ll pack on extra fat - which isn’t healthy.
Our mature pigs are separated by purpose. Our meat herd ready for harvest are grouped together and fed about 2lbs a day to maintain their condition as they have reached their target weights. Our breeding sows, gilts and boars are all separated by their feed intake needs. Some breeding stock require a little more feed to maintain a healthy condition, some require very little.
That’s why you’ll see many different groups of pigs when you visit! You will notice that the groups are rather uniform in size & that’s by design!
Do you sell pigs?
Yes, we do sell pigs. We sell registered breeding stock across the United States and work with buyers to fit them with pigs that will meet their goals. We spend a lot of time getting to know you, your goals with pigs, before we ever discuss our available pigs. You won't experience us trying to rush you through the process. Some individuals we work with for over a year before we have the perfect pig(s) for them and their homestead/farm. We compile a waitlist for individuals wanting pigs from us. It doesn't cost anything to join the list - just a way for us to keep everyones "wants" and timelines organized. We also sell barrows (castrated males) to those that want to just raise pigs for their own consumption or as a companion. We don't always have barrows available as our pork production is priority. On occasion we will have a few to sell throughout the year.
We mentor all of our customers that buy pigs form us. To include, but not limited to, answering questions on how to manage them on your property, feeding requirements, general care, breeding, farrowing, the registration process, pork production, and everything in between. You can feel confident in the fact that you will not need to do this alone when you purchase a pig from us. We offer this mentorship to those that haven't purchased pigs from us for a fee (this fee is included in the purchase of pigs when purchased from us). Learn more here.
Can I own just one pig?
No, I will never sell an individual pig to someone that doesn't already own pigs. Pigs are herd animals. Your other livestock are not companion animals to a pig and it isn't fair to expect them to be. This gets a little more complicated once you venture into breeding pigs.
Housing breeding pigs together for any length of time other than breeding purposes is not something I'd advise. Let's cover pig terminology real quick. Boar - intact breeding male. Sow - intact breeding female who has birthed piglets. Barrow - castrated male. Gilt - intact female who has not birthed piglets.
For housing purposes you do not want to house your boars, sows and/or gilts together. This is for several reasons. If they're young (under 1 years old) they could breed prematurely and your female could run into complications during farrowing (birth). If they don't breed, they can form a brother/sister bond... and never produce piglets. It sounds crazy but it's true, trust me.
Ideally you'd want to house all males together - it can be a mix of boars/barrows.
Females can be house with barrows because they cannot reproduce. Your pigs can share a fence line, but you will want to make sure it's secure. It is possible for pigs to breed through a fence, but after almost 5 years of owning pigs we have not experienced it.
Why does registration matter?
It is important to note that ONLY the breeder can register pigs. I always urge individuals to look up breeders on their respective registry to verify the information being presented to them. Purchasing registered breeding stock is the only guaranteed way to ensure you are purchasing purebred stock. All too often I see people who thought they bought KuneKune end up with mixes.
When do you harvest KuneKune?
We harvest our pigs between 12 and 14 months and our pigs average 230-250lbs. We do not harvest our pigs on our farm as we sell retail cuts in the market. They are processed at a USDA inspected facility right down the road, Gentle Harvest. If it were just for personal consumption - we could process them on the farm as it would only be feeding our family.
The biggest trade off for KuneKune is the amount of time invested in raising them for pork. For us, it's not a negative as their deep red, marbled meat is so unique. We haven't experienced the flavor in a different breed of pig.
What type of maintenance is needed?
Pigs are pretty low maintenance animals as a whole, but do require a few things to keep them in optimal health to include. Regularly deworming them for internal/external parasites, trimming hooves every 6 or 12 months, trimming tusks on boars, and could include additional vaccinations at the discretion of your veterinarian.
Josh worked with Joe Grimes of Turned Luck Farm in West Virginia to build a custom, one-of-a-kind corral system to work our pigs. Watch this video to learn more.
It's become clear that the demand for drawings to build this setup is wanted... I've been not so patiently waiting for Josh to complete these (just like many of you). As soon as they're available for purchase you will be able to find them on our website.
What is a normal weight for a mature KuenKune?
"Normal" will vary based off the farm you speak to. We are strictly pork driven, so having genetics that thrive under our care to consistently produce pigs that are weighing over 200lbs at a year old is what we strive for. Our mature stock breeding range from 250-400lbs.
What is the average cost?
This will be solely dependent on what you're looking for. Barrows are much cheaper than breeding stock, but our breeding stock ranges from $800-1,5000+
The main driving force for us to add KuneKune pigs to the farm was pork. We wanted to find a breed that would thrive on smaller acreage, that wouldn't limit us to just a few pigs. We wanted to be able to be a farrow to harvest operation, which essentially means the pork you find in the market is from pigs born on our property.
It's not the easy way, but we feel as though it’s the best way. We believe your food deserves better. ♥️
-Josh, Dayna & Hadley