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Guide to Kunekune Pork

As a smaller breed, the Kunekune pig is a great option for those with suburban sized yards who still crave tender grass-fed pork.

| August 2017

  • Kunekune pigs have a noticeably smaller build in comparison to modern meat pigs.
    Photo by Peter Worth/Alamy
  • The Kunekune pig is known for its stout legs, large belly and short snout resulting in a distinctive portly body.
    Illustration by Elayne Sears
  • In Sue Weaver's "Homegrown Pork", Kunekune pigs are identified as the ideal pig breed for families in suburban environments.
    Cover courtesy Storey Publishing

Homegrown Pork (Storey, 2013) by Sue Weaver offers an outline on successfully raising pigs for modern backyard meat using humane and healthy techniques.  Along the way we learn the secret to developing succulent pork which begins with breed choices and ends with an affordable amount of rooting space.

Purchase this book from the MOTHER EARTH NEWS store: Homegrown Pork.


Type: Pork (though too small to be considered modern meat)
Origin: New Zealand
Color: Black, black and white, white, gold, tan, and brown
Size: Small
Conservation Status: Not applicable

Description: The Kunekune is a diminutive, short-legged, shortbodied pig with a short- to medium-length upturned snout, wattles (also called tassels or piri piri by Kunekune breeders), and small, semi-lopped or upright ears. It has short- to mediumlength, straight or curly hair.

While most Americans consider Kunekunes pet pigs, the breed is indeed a first-class porker. Introduced to New Zealand in the early 1800s by nineteenth-century whalers and traders, this little pig was raised by the Maori people for meat. The word kunekune in Maori means “fat and round.” However, by the 1980s, only about fifty purebred Kunekunes remained in New Zealand. Wildlife park owners Michael Willis and John Simister initiated a conservation program. This in turn led to additional recovery efforts. The breed no longer faces extinction, with breed societies in New Zealand, Britain, and the North America.

The Kunekune is said to root less than other breeds. Pigs are hardy, good-natured, peerless foragers that take up little space, making them ideal for raising grass-fed pork by families that prefer small, succulent cuts of tasty meat.

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