One of the main reasons, we fell in love with the kunekune pigs was their ability to fatten and grow on a diet of grass. They are able to complete their lives consuming mostly grass, bugs, and other things they find appealing in the pasture. This allows for a end meat product that will be higher in Omega-3's then a conventional pork product found at the grocery store. The classic American diet is extremely high in Omega-6's, from unhealthy oils, corn, soy, fast food/ processed food products, and nitrate packed meat/deli products. This creates a problem when our bodies were created to run most effectively on a diet that balances the Omega 3 and 6's consumed. This knowledge, created a passion for us when choosing which animals to raise on our farm that could better balance this Omega 3 and Omega 6 ratio.
As grass is such an important part to these pigs' diet, we allow our pigs to be on pasture 12 months of the year. As the winter arrives and the grass goes dormant we supply alfalfa hay to ensure they have enough to eat. Our pigs do receive a minimal amount of grains to round out their diet. We have formulated our own feed that ensures we are avoiding SOY and CORN. We also have sourced organic grains, to ensure both the pigs and our customers can be offered a product that is free from harmful pesticide/medicated laden feeds. After we mix our grains we ferment them. This allows for the grains to be predigested for the pigs so that they will be able to absorb the nutrients the grains have to offer. Fermenting their grains also provides a daily dose of probiotics to ensure they stay healthy. Most of the immune system is in the gut of a mammal. If we can keep our pigs' guts healthy we hope to lessen their chances of having to use antibiotics or other medications. We are also working to create a better system of operation for worming and parasite problems that would lead to no longer using parasitic medications, but rather leaning on a herbal supplement protocol. This system is still in the process of being perfected, but we look forward to implementing the protocol once piglets are born here on the farm.
Breeding and Farrowing:
Our goal is that for the entirety of the time each pig spends on our farm, that we would work with their God given instincts and their natural inclinations. We allow the pigs to be a "herd" together as much as we can while still controlling the amount of piglets we have. There are times we have to separate the boars and gilts/sows, but as we know they all enjoy each other's company, we attempt to keep them united as often as we can. We breed our gilts/sows one time a year. This allows the sow several months, after weening their litter, to prepare and heal their bodies in a healthy manner for more piglets. After the gilts/sows are bred we leave them with their boar and the other members of the herd. We remove the gilt/sow a few days prior to delivering her piglets, as this action mimics what an expectant mother would do in the wild. A wild gilt/sow would also withdraw from the herd a few days before delivery and find a quiet place to build a nest. Mama pigs are excellent nest builders! Mama would stay away with her babies for a couple weeks after delivery. Then she would reunite with the herd and introduce her piglets to their new family. Our gilt/sows are taken to a grassed paddock that has access to the barn which is filled with hay for her to begin to build her nest! This allows her to have the seclusion she seeks and allows her to still have an area to graze as she sees fit. We do not use farrowing crates, though we do see the benefits some may see in these, we want mama pig to be as comfortable as possible and to be able to move about as she wants. Also because this breed is so docile, the gilts/sows do not mind our presence in the barn to help ensure the piglets stay out of her way and safe (the main purpose of a farrowing crate.)
Eye Teeth Removal and Tail Docking:
We do not and will not practice eye teeth removal or tail docking. This is often done in larger farms that may not have as much room for the piglets to run around, which creates a boredom problem and bad behaviors. As we operate a small farm these do not offer a benefit to us.