Meishan or Kunekune? It’s a common question. Both are docile, grazing pigs. Both are lard type pigs. Both have deep red & marbled meat. Both have breed conservation efforts. Both are fun to raise!
Here is our 15 month old sow, MooShu (Illinois/Iowa lines) next to a decent-sized fully grown Kunekune boar, our Mahia Love/Jenny. Hedwig weighs 270 lbs, and seems to be a nicely sized boar, until MooShu walks up and starts flirting. The size difference is dramatic, and MooShu still has some filling out to do!
Some facts about Meishans:
• They are a medium sized pig, with boars topping out around 400 lbs and sows topping out around 350 on average.
• Their population is globally threatened, and in China, the government controls all of the boars, of which there is a limited number.
• They are larger than Kunekunes, and grow faster than them. Barrows & gilts will reach 250-275 lbs by 10-12 months. For us, this is a healthy weight with a reasonable meat to fat ratio. They can be fed more to put more weight on, but that weight would be mostly fat.
• They reach sexual maturity very early, with males starting being of breeding age around 12 weeks. We have an upcoming litter that was sired by a 13.5 week old Meishan boar piglet.
• They are prolific, and have large litter sizes. Litter sizes of 16-20 are common by the third parity.
• Their meat is a rich red color, with marbling. In Japan, it is a delicacy!
• Piglets are extremely active from birth, and eat solid food sooner than other breeds. They are weaned around 5-6 weeks to prevent drawing down the sow’s condition too much.
• Their piglets are more skittish than Kunekune piglets, and it takes more handling and work developing trust to be able to eventually touch and pet them. Once they finally realize that belly rubs are a thing, they become your best friend.
• Meishans do eat more than Kunes, and for this reason we find it easiest to keep the two breeds separate. Meishans eat large amounts of hay- we find ourselves continually replenishing the hay bales in their shelters every 4-5 days.
• There is a Meishan registry, the American Meishan Breeder’s Association
• There are three Meishan bloodlines: USDA, University of Ilinois and Iowa State. They are named after the three original Meishan research herds.