Breeder or Feeder? First up, poor conformation- the meat pigs.

From left to right Monalisa (Rona), meat pig, Angelica (Awakino- project pig), meat pig, Cassiopia (Trish sow)

I posted the above photo yesterday, with the same caption. One of our page followers was curious as to why some pigs are breeding pigs and others are decided to be feeders. It’s decided on an individual basis, usually after the pig has had some time to grow out. But there are some signs in young piglets that we are learning to identify. We also need to keep in mind that as Kunekunes grow, the go through awkward phases. Their snouts lengthen and then their heads take a while to catch up to this growth, much like a human toddler grows lanky and awkward, then will appear in proportion and happily plump for a while, only to have this cycle repeat! All you can do is watch and wait, and hope the pig matures to meet your own personal standards.

Kunekune are a wonderful, but challenging breed to work with. The breed needs more dedicated and passionate breed conservationists willing to make the sacrifices necessary to breed beautiful examples of the breed while culling hard for the breed standard, and less of the “I can’t eat papers” mindset, which usually results in an overabundance of poor quality pigs that often deviate so far from the breed standard that they begin to look like Ossabaws and not Kunekune.

But here’s the quandary- just because a pig is registered doesn’t mean it’s a good quality pig, or that it ever should have been registered in the first place. A registered pig is only as good as the standards of the breeder who decided to register it. In the photo album below are numerous registered pigs that we paid a lot of money for. None of those pigs at this time meet the standards we have grown to embrace for the Kunekune pig,

How did we happen to get such pigs? Quite simply, we didn’t know any better, and we trusted that we were being sold high quality pigs worthy of their $800 price tag. Also, there are no visuals to accompany the breed standard put forth by either AKPR or AKKPS. Kunekune conformation is hard to see when you are new, because all you can see are cute pigs or piglets, and it’s hard to imagine how an adorable little piglet could be anything other than perfect! Major aspects of swine conformation in general apply, but again- if you are new to pigs, as so many Kunekune owners are, you aren’t aware of these resources. Ask to see examples of Kunekune conformation in a Kunekune Facebook group, and you’ll find a heated conversation usually erupts. People don’t like to talk conformation of their own pigs, or their breeding stock, or their own piglets. I understand, it’s a sensitive subject. But it’s one that we really need to breach in order to best educate those new to the breed.

I am by no means a person who is most qualified to be having this conversation. I have three years of experience with Kunekune pigs, and NO previous experience with livestock conformation or showing. But what I do have is a good eye, a strong desire to learn and always do my best at everything, and a passion for this breed that inspires me to on a daily basis try to make the best possible decisions for our breeding herd, and the piglets that we allow to move forward on other farms, as registered stock. Like you, we are always learning and growing.

In the album below, I am sharing with you piglets and young pigs, as well as some older pigs that we either culled for meat, or will cull for meat in the near future. Again, some of these pigs were purchased as registered breeding stock, some as meat barrows, and piglets that we purchased with a proven sow. Some of the young piglets were born here over the last two years.

I will show you photos of positive qualities that we look for in breeding stock and piglets- in a different post, that I’ll make at some time in the future.

Please note in these pigs- long and narrow snouts, close eye set, narrow foreheads, lack of jowls, nose pads that fold in half or point downward in piglets, angle of forehead that is long and flat or points downwards instead of being rounded outward, lack of wrinkles on piglet snouts, snouts/nose pads that look like they are almost stuck onto a piglet’s face instead of blending well with the head, unbalanced bodies, poor top lines. There is one boar piglet that shows large testicles, and is herniated- not to be confused with a boar piglet that is just naturally well-endowed, hernias present differently and do happen every once in a while- that’s a whole other topic!

One thought on “Breeder or Feeder? First up, poor conformation- the meat pigs.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s