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Joys & Sacrifices of Raising KuneKunes

There are many joys to raising KuneKune Pigs but, there are also sacrifices as well.

KuneKune Piglet

Raising KuneKunes - The Joys and Sacrifices of being a KuneKune Breeder


This was written when we were 6 years into our 10 years of breeding and raising KuneKune Pigs.

We have been raising KuneKunes for over 6+ years now and I must say that it has been quite the journey. First, I can honestly say that I never knew how these smaller, heritage breed of grazing pigs was going to enrich my life the way they have. They are just so friendly, easy to handle, docile and comical, what is not to love?

Secondly, I will never forget all the research and discussions I had when I was researching the breed. Likewise, how I felt when I brought home my first piglet. I promised my husband that I would never get more than two boars and four sows. Well, I lied! I have no idea how this breed would work its way into my heart.

To clarify, when my husband went with me to get my second KuneKune, he got to see some adults. He quickly pulled me aside and asked me what are you going to do with them? They are huge. Now remember that KuneKunes are a smaller breed of pig as when you compare them to commercial hogs that weigh eight hundred pounds and more. As a result, he was in shocked, and I must say scared of what I was doing. It almost ruined my chances of getting another! So, leave your partners at home.

A Look into Our First Litter

My first litter was also a memory I will never forget. I was told that when piglets are born, their eyes are open, ears are open, and they can get up and run around in a few moments. With my background coming from raising champion Australian Shepherds for 12 + years, I really did not believe it. As you know pups do not open their eyes till, they are 10-14 days old, and they don't walk till around 4 weeks! Imagine my surprise when they did have their eyes open, could hear and did get up on all four hooves moments after birth. As a result, I could not believe it. But I absolutely love farrowing litters of piglets. I get just as excited today as I did back then with my first litter. To watch a birth is to experience a miracle right in front of your eyes. Can you tell I am head over heels in love?

A Look at the Negatives

What you do not hear a lot of is the commitment that you make when you are raising livestock of any kind. The hours of work, the loss of sleep and the 365 days a year the “job” entails. Most pig farmers, unless you are a large-scale commercial farmer, also work full time. It is a tireless job to care for the animals but, so worth the joy that it brings. Caring for our farm and animals is very therapeutic for me.

My first several years of starting our KuneKune breeding program, I managed a Marriott Hotel full time and then some. I was a volunteer registrar for the American KuneKune Pig Society, and I was still breeding Australian Shepherds. My husband also worked full time. It is hard to stay up all night delivering piglets and then go to work the next day however, we managed to do it. We did it for many years. Luckily 2 years ago, I left the hotel world to begin my own business that is home based. A decision I still do not regret as it gives me the flexible schedule that I need to be on the farm and watch over my animals even better.

The joys of raising livestock are very many! The accomplishments are great! The challenging times are hard! You hear lots about this on social media and other farms websites but, you do not really hear much about the tough times and heartbreak that comes along with raising KuneKunes. therefore, I am a very emotional breeder as I genuinely love each individual pig for varied reasons. They all have different personalities and looks. Much like humans, we are all different but, share some similarities.

Feeling Responsible for the piglets

If I brought them into the world, then I am responsible for them. When you have a litter and unexpectedly loose a piglet it is exceedingly difficult for me, and I will cry each time. Thus, I go beyond to save each life that I am responsible for helping bring into this world. However, I know that losing some will happen no matter how hard you try. We do not live in a perfect world. Not all KuneKune Piglets will be meant to be.

Note, I would easily bring a piglet that was not thriving right into the house in an exercise pen with a doggie bed in a minute if I needed to help it live. No matter what, I have had to give syringes of goats milks every two hours to a piglet I was trying to save. Having some background in managing a vet clinic for 5 years, I was no stranger to various medications and IVs and things to do to try to save them. Furthermore, I could sub-Q some IV fluids with the best of them.

The Heartache

When you go through a heartache you question why you put yourself through it. Therefore, when you work all day and spend 3 hours cleaning up poop and giving fresh water daily, you question yourself on why you do it. As a result, when you stay up all night delivering piglets while everyone else is sleeping, you wonder why you do it. Furthermore, when you cannot go on vacation or visiting with friends/family due to a litter coming or young piglets on the ground, but you are trying to save a piglet, you wonder why you do it.

Important to note also, when your friends are inviting you to go places and you can’t, you wonder why you do it. I could go on and on………I am sure that you get the point. This is what you do not hear about. You are sacrificing; you time, your heart, your money, your sleep and sometimes even your sanity. Therefore, it is important that you consider both sides.

Why Raise KuneKunes with all the sacrifices?

So, why do I do raise KuneKunes with all the sacrifices that you make to be a pig farmer? I do it because I make a difference in their lives, and they make a difference in mine. I love to watch our pigs out grazing. It is therapeutic to me. Its "grounds" me and makes me realize what is enormously important and what is a waste of my time. I love to save a piglet despite all the odds stacked against us. It makes me feel good that I was able to make a difference. I love to walk out my door and they all come running for my attention and affectionate. You hear about unconditional love but, few truly experience it. 

In Conclusion

Nothing is better to show you that unconditional like a KuneKune can. Primarily, I love to be involved with the miracle of birth. It teaches you just how precious life really is. Adoringly, I would watch piglets play out in the farrowing yards. Watching a mother piglet sing to her babies while they are nursing. Taking photos of our piglets in their new homes and watch their piglets be born on new farms. Additionally, I loved to help my buyers by mentoring them and assisting them on their own journey through the KuneKune world. Furthermore, when I had a tough day and I go out with my herd, I would feel renewed after spending time with our pigs. That is quite a list of things I love so...

While the sacrifices are many but, oh the joy outweighs them.

Written by Kathy Petersen during her 10 years as a KuneKune Breeder under Virginia KuneKunes.  

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