Meet the Kunekune. Small, docile and friendly, Kunekunes can fatten solely on grass and inputs the average homesteader can easily produce at home. This makes them ideal for anyone interested in sustainability, permaculture and being self sufficient. That they’re completely adorable and easygoing is an added benefit.
Our pigs pasture as long as there is grass on the ground. In 2017, this was from May until sometime in November when the snow finally covered the ground. We feed them vegetable trimmings, leftover bread and seasonally available fruits. When they’re available, each pig gets an egg a day and as much milk as we can spare. They thrive on this diet throughout summer, heading into fall glossy and sleek and full of energy.
Autumn finds them spending most of their days under our apple trees, scooping up apples as they fall, fattening up for the long winter ahead. For those unfortunate souls who pasture away from the apple trees, we pack buckets every day. We hope to save back apples and winter squash this season to help supplement the herd through winter.
Our philosophy with the pigs is to try to let them live as natural a life as possible, keeping them out of the barn and in the fresh air as much as we can. Winter is spent out in future garden areas, their wasted hay laying down mulch for next year’s growth. They cuddle the cold nights away in a deeply bedded shelter, burrowing under the straw until you’re lucky if you can see a nose, popping up with an indignant snort when one of their goat or dog companions walks across their buried forms.
In spring, they’re out on grass again as soon as it begins to grow, supplementing with hay until grass is on heavy and raising their spring litter on the flush of eggs, milk and fresh spring growth. I count it as one of the great pleasures of my life to look out into the vibrant green pasture to see the contented forms of grazing pigs and goats.
Our vision for the Kunekunes is a sustainable herd that can thrive without grain (doing great so far, but need some in winter). We’re staying small while we learn this new species and how to raise them in a manner that makes the most of our local resources while also providing them with the nutrition they need to be naturally healthy and resilient.
BVF Rebecca Gina 49 (Mango)
Gilts: PF, DD