The New Zealand Maori Pig
Officially recognized as the smallest pig breed in the world, 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.
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 situation. They tend to not challenge fencing and have an incredible feed conversion of 2:1. This lends to a a running joke in Kunekune circles that they are capable of getting fat on snow, much as their name would suggest; Kunekune literally translated means "fat and round".
All of today's Kunekunes can be traced to roughly 14 pigs from New Zealand, which makes it important to keep track through extensive registries, to ensure the greatest diversity when breeding. Silver Prairie Stock & Poultry Farm / Socrates Petting Zoo is proud to work with both the American Kunekune Pig Society (AKKPS) and the International Kunekune Hog Registry (IKHR) to assist in the registration and selection of the best possible conformation to standard when choosing the stock for our breed pairings and potential breeding stock.
As strict breed conservationists, Silver Prairie Stock & Poultry Farm / Socrates Petting Zoo are purveyors of the breed standard and work diligently to maintain a reputation as ethical but strict breeders of top quality Kunekunes.
There are multiple theories as to the origin of Kunekune Pigs. Some say that the Polynesians brought the pigs with them when the arrived in New Zealand but there is little fossil evidence to corroborate the theory. In fact, no evidence of pigs in New Zealand exists until the 1700s when European immigrants began letting 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. A similar pig can be found in Tahiti as well, also known as Kunekunes.
Although it is unlikely we will ever know exactly how the pigs ended up in New Zealand initially, one thing is clear; the Maori custom for giving large, often live gifts to family members and members of other neighbouring tribes was a major contributing factor to their successful spread in New Zealand.
Over time, as the Maori people began to rely on new, more European means in ways of subsistence, the population of the Kunekune began to dwindle significantly. This decline continued mostly unabated until the pigs were faced with near extinction in the 1980s.
By the time wildlife park owners Michael Willis and John Simister began the arduous task of replenishing the breed there were approximately only about fifty purebred Kunekune left in all of New Zealand. From the available specimens only ten sows and four boars were selected for the purpose of conservation as they were the ones that best represented the Kunekune breed as a whole.
In time, 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. Every Kunekune today can be traced back to those original fourteen pigs in New Zealand. Which is why keeping detailed registries is so important and why Silver Prairie Stock & Poultry Farm / Socrates Petting Zoo is actively involved in multiple registries and associations.
There are currently a total of sixteen Sow Lines in North America:
Rona - imported from New Zealand in 1995
Wilsons Gina - imported from New Zealand in 1995
Jenny - imported from the United Kingdom in 2005
Trish - imported from the United Kingdom in 2005
Aria Giana (pronounced ar-ee-ah Gee-ah-na) - imported from New Zealand in 2010
Tarutaru (pronounced Tar-oo-Tar-oo) - imported from New Zealand in 2010
Tapeka (Pronounced Ta-peek-ah) - imported from New Zealand in 2010
Momona (pronounced Moe-Moe-Nah) - imported from New Zealand in 2010
Manuhiri - imported from New Zealand in 2010
Haunene (pronounced How-neh-neh) - imported from New Zealand in 2010
Rebecca Gina - imported from the United Kingdom in 2010
Kereopa - imported from the United Kingdom in 2011
Sally - imported from the United Kingdom in 2011
Trish - imported from the United Kingdom in 2011
Awakino (pronounced Ah-wah-kee-no) - imported from the United Kingdom in 2011
BH Rebecca Gina - imported from the United Kingdom in 2011
There is a total of eleven Boar Lines in North America:
Boris - imported from New Zealand in 1995
Tonganui - imported from New Zealand in 1995
Andrew - imported from the United Kingdom in 2005
Te Whangi (pronounced Teh-Fang-ee) - imported from the United Kingdom in 2005
Mahia Love (prounounced Ma-Hee-A Love) - imported from New Zealand in 2010
Tutanekai - imported from New Zealand in 2010
Tuahuru (pronounced Too-ah-Hoo-roo) - imported from New Zealand in 2010
Whakanui (pronounced Fauk-ah-noo-ee) - imported from New Zealand in 2010
Tutaki (pronounced Too-Tah-kee) - imported from the United Kingdom in 2010
Ru - imported from the United Kingdom in 2011
BH Tutaki - imported from the United Kingdom in 2011
The idea of lines however is based solely on time of import from either the United Kingdom or New Zealand and not distinctly different genetic variations. This is due in no small part to the fact that the initial conservation selection consisted of the aforementioned fourteen pigs (ten sows and four boars). Every recognized line is simply a combination of those first pigs.
That's why, when choosing breeding quality stock, COI (coefficient of inbreeding) and Line 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.
At Silver Prairie Stock & Poultry Farm / Socrates Petting Zoo, only the pigs that most conform to breed standard are offered as registered breeding stock. No intact stock leaves without being registered or altered (spayed/neutered). Runt piglets, although rare, are offered as pets after having been fixed. We hold back all our potential breeding gilts and boars for one year to observe their conformation for breeding prior to offering them for sale.
Any gilts or boars that do not conform are altered and offered as pet stock prior to being used in our pasture pork program.
We do not sell unregistered stock unless spayed or neutered prior to leaving our farm.
Although Kunekune are a small pig they are not what most would consider miniature or "teacup". They are simply smaller than typical pigs. Wherein commercial hogs can reach weights of 900+ lbs, a fully grown Kunekune can top out at a potential maximum weight of approximately 450 lbs. So, although they are a small pig breed, they are far from tiny.
Silver Prairie Stock & Poultry Farm / Socrates Petting Zoo is proud to be a recognized as a registered breeder though both the American Kunekune Pig Society (AKKPS) and the International Kunekune Hog Registry (IKHR), in addition to being a member of the Empire Kunekune Pig Association (EKPA).