Originating in New Zealand – first imported into Canada in 2012 – pronounced “Cooney-Cooney.” We are pleased to have you join our KuneKune Family & are thrilled you have chosen us to support you along this journey! We want to make your piglets transitions into their new farm families as smooth as possible, so I have compiled a list of tips to help prepare you and your farms for your sweet new additions!
Assess the predators in your area to determine how you intend to house your KuneKunes.
Do you have?
– Problematic Neighbouring Dogs
– Birds of Prey (Eagles, Turkey Vultures)
This may affect how you house your KuneKunes to keep them safe. Generally when building housing quarters & fencing for KuneKunes, you aren’t actually building it to keep them in but to keep predators out. As for ourselves we have to be extremely careful with our small piglets as the Eagles in our area would love to make small piglets a tasty snack. Therefore until the piglets have reached a minimum of 25 lbs, we keep them in a pen with bird netting over top as a predator cover. This won’t be the case for most farms but definitely put some thought into what kind of housing will keep your current Kunes as well as future litters safe! Think about fencing heights/ground depth, wire strength, and hole size. You may think about electrifying an outside strand on your fence to prevent predators from digging under or bears coming through, etc.
There are many different housing options for KuneKunes. Pigs are naturally very clean animals given the ability to do so. When they have access to the outdoors, they will rarely use indoors as their washroom area – saving you on bedding costs. Housing can range from small sheds to stalls in barns. We use 12×12 box stalls which also serve as the perfect size farrowing quarters – dual purpose. Our stalls have attached run outs that we can close the door if there is inclement weather. My favourite part about this style of housing for myself is that it is very easy to clean. You can stand up fully inside the pen, it is easy to look over and easy to feed all the individual animals efficiently – which is very important when you are housing 50 + KuneKunes. In colder climates smaller insulated huts with lower ceiling heights and smaller openings to the weather outside may be more effective. You can browse different pig shelters to your hearts content on Pinterest – finding everything from budget friendly to the swine Hilton. Dry housing with protection from wind and natures elements is the priority!
Some of my favourite KuneKune Home Design Inspiration Below
When it comes to fencing – in a perfect world – I would use a heavy gauge 5-6 foot high no climb wire fencing with wood posts and wood top and bottom rails (to prevent bending of the wire). With a top and bottom strand of hot wire on the outside of my pens to prevent predators digging in and/or climbing over. Pigs will rub on wire if not provided with other “scratching posts” & thus stretch wire. I do not use an electric wire on the inside of my fences unless its in a pen housing multiple boars that I would like to keep away from sows in heat. However, most of you are not going to be housing 8+ testosterone filled boars like myself here! There are many other temporary fencing options such as solar-charged pig netting which is moveable to different grazing areas of the farm that I would consider for rotational grazing. However it would be ideal to have one “solid” pen at a minimum. Premier 1 supplies carries portable fencing – you find a link below in the heat lamp section to their website.
You will need to make the choice as to whether or not to lock your KuneKunes inside their housing at night time. We lock up our small piglets/sows with litters at night time. As they get larger, we leave ours to come and go as they please – unless we have severely stormy, windy, or cold weather. We also have an outside farm dog who roams at night, which also helps to keep the coyotes at bay. This is completely a personal preference. Once again you will need to assess the risks in your own individual regions!
Being on the beautiful (but sometimes very wet) West Coast, we have found that the best footing surrounding doorways & KuneKune housing areas to be crushed gravel. Gravel, if you have access to it, eliminates mud and acts as a natural hoof trimmer for your pigs. Avoid toxic footing such as hog fuel and bark mulch which contain cedar. In order to keep our pigs “paddock” areas clean, we pick the manure off of the crusher dust daily and store it in our dry manure/compost pile for field fertilizer in the summer months.
Keeping your pens & feeding area clean and free of manure will promote good animal husbandry, help to keep parasites at bay, as well as keep your aggregate lasting much longer. Consider also adding a secondary fence with a gate to your pastured area off of your paddock for rotational purposes. Handy as well for those times you would like your Kunes contained in a smaller area for other purposes such as breeding observation, inclement weather, vet visits etc. If you are working with a small land base – over seeding with a pasture mix in fall/spring and rotational grazing can be very helpful for your pasture root base and growth!
Clean, dry bedding is important for your KuneKunes health. Damp, mouldy, dusty, or dirty bedding can cause lung & respiratory issues. We prefer sawdust over shavings as we find it easier to keep clean – as well as it soaks up liquids much better than fluffy shavings. In winter & cold climates, a thick bed of straw will act as an insulator and be appreciated by your pigs! We do not get extreme cold in the Lower Mainland often, so we bed with sawdust with a pile of hay over top in the winter. KunesKunes will also eat some of this hay that we use for their “beds” – multi purpose! Keep in mind cedar is toxic to pigs – a white wood sawdust or shavings would be of preference.
Joining an Existing Herd:
Be diligent when making additions to your herd. We always recommend quarantine of at least 30 days before adding outside pigs into your existing herd. Be sure the existing pigs as well as new comers are up to date on all vaccines and anti-parasitic treatment. Ensure if you are adding smaller piglets with larger swine, that the smaller piglet has easy access to enough feed and that there is not to much feed competition to ensure optimum growth rates and ability. Introductions can be made easier by housing them for a few days to a week side by side divided by a fence. In large herds whenever possible, we house our pigs with like sized animals to minimize competition as much as possible.
The piglet(s) you will be receiving will have been acclimatized off of heat lamps to a low of 5 degrees at night – with sawdust/hay bedding and litter mates to snuggle. Please keep in mind their body temperature plays a role in their growth and development. Cold piglets = more energy output which equals to lower feed conversion ratio and slower growth rates. Please keep your piglets in a warm area while they acclimatize or consider providing them with a heat lamp if you have cold conditions. Conventional heat lamps are dangerous – they can very easily cause barn fires. We strongly recommend purchasing Premier 1 heat lamps with their never-loose base bulbs. You will need 2 heat lamps per litter when you start breeding. If you are needing one, I suggest shipping two combined to get a jump start on your farrowing pen checklist!
All jokes aside & as much as I would absolutely love this birthday cake pictured above – pigs need a wallow! An area to cool down in the mud or shallow muddy creek bank as they cannot sweat. If you do not have a “natural” wallow in your pasture area, you can make one by simply creating a muddy spot in a low part of your field with easy hose access or provide them with a pool located in the shade like the one below. I have water run out to my fields where I’ve needed to create wallows. In warm weather, I simply run some water each morning to keep the wallows topped up for them and to ensure they aren’t stagnant. The mud also will help to keep flies and mosquitoes at bay!