In the early summer of 2018, David and I loaded our kids up into our Jeep and drove to pick up two Kune Kune piglets, whom the kids immediately named after their favorite Disney characters at the time: Tinkerbell and Mr. Smee (if you know you know!). In the past 3 years of Kune Kune pig ownership, we’ve learned a few things about owning pet piggies and I thought I’d share our top 10 takeaways:
- Kune Kunes don’t root. They graze on grass. Kind of like cows, they just go around all day eating the grass in the backyard and they don’t root it up to make into mud (probably because they have hair covering their skin so they have built in protection from the sun?).
- They may look like the size of a 40 pound dog, but when fully grown, they are HEAVY. We don’t know how much they actually weigh because it is literally impossible to lift Mr. Smee (as if he would let us anyway) and David’s picked up Tinkerbell before out of necessity– he guesstimated she weighed about 150 pounds, and she’s certainly more petite than her BFF male companion. Neither pig goes up past my knees– they’re fall smaller than our dog Kaiser, who weighs ~110 pounds but is also part bucking bronco.
- They are extremely smart. We trained Tinkerbell to sit by giving her treats when she sat in literally one afternoon. Whenever David feeds them food scraps, he snorts like a pig (I’m not making this up, it’s a crack up!) and as soon as they hear him make the sound they both start snorting in response and come running. They know what time the kids get home from school and are frequently by the fenceline to greet the kids despite never otherwise hanging out in that area of the yard.
- They love being touched… especially ear scratches and belly rubs. They don’t necessarily let strangers pet them (well, Tinkerbell doesn’t really but Mr. Smee isn’t picky). They adore being scratched around their ears and then they’ll start to lean into whoever is petting them, and eventually flop down on their side and lift their little hoofs in the air for you to rub their belly! Just like a dog. It’s absolutely hysterical. They love it so much they’ll usually just lay there afterwards soaking it up.
- They make excellent pets for little kids– they’re more gentle than any other animal we’ve had, dogs included. We frequently wear flip flops around them in the backyard and they don’t stop on our feet. The kids put their stuffed animals on Mr. Smee’s back and he loves it. The kids feed them right out of the palm of their hands and they’re so gentle and never nip or anything!
- They don’t try to escape unless they run out of food or clean water. We put in an electric fence in the pig pen because they kept trying to escape and then we realized they just needed fresh water and not gross water. They haven’t really tried to escape since. We just realized in fact that the electric fence hasn’t been working… no idea how long it’s been broken!
- They don’t need any extra food in the summer– they just graze on grass! And in the winter it’s easy to feed them a mixture of alfalfa pellets with miniature pig feed, and then table scraps.
- Though they be but little, they poop like a big animal. We sometimes rotate them between the backyard and the pig pen (side field) and after a few days in just one space, whatever area they’ve designated their bathroom area is just COVERED. It dissolves with rain water into the grass and our lawn is pretty freaking luscious now in May, but in the wintertime when the grass isn’t growing and we haven’t had those lovely April showers… that part of yard is not even walkable. (We’re talking about 1/3 to 1/2 of an acre or so that they designate their bathroom area.)
- They can be ridiculously fast. Piglets have thin skin that is susceptible to ticks (thankfully by the time they’re around 1 year old their skin is too thick for ticks to attach) and one time Tinkerbell had a big fat deer tick on her skin. David tried to remove the tick and once she realized what he was trying to do, she became exceptionally gifted in the speed department and he literally could not catch up to her no matter how fast he was running. Neither one of us expected that!
- You’ll fall in love with their personalities. Mr. Smee is so chill and laid back– he’s cool to hang out with because he’s up for pets but not annoying. Tinkerbell is a drama queen and often incites major backyard drama by running around squealing for no reason (I’ve watched this happen on more than one occasion), which spikes the interest of the dog, who then chases her to see what’s going on and she squeals bloody murder and acts as though he’s trying to kill her. Then the hens get all riled up and freaked out and everyone is affected (except Mr. Smee, see above comment) until Tinkerbell gets bored with her made-up drama and loses interest. We all crack up at all the little antics she constantly pulls for attention or to get one more treat. We also appreciate how Mr. Smee is always up for a good long belly scratch whenever you’re in the mood for some drama-free company.
I could go on and on about how awesome it is having kune kune (pronounced cooney cooney by the way) pigs in the backyard, but suffice it to say the last 3 years have provided nonstop entertainment and constant visual interest. These two are our pets– we don’t have any plans to turn them into bacon, if that’s what you’re wondering– though I hear they make excellent meat. On a few frustrating occasions I know David’s been tempted. But no matter what David may tell you, they’re part of our little family here and we love having them around!