Our Kunekune Pig Registration Nightmare
This information is part of a post I’ve written about KNOWING YOUR BREEDER, to best avoid registration frustration. I have posted this separate from the other article, due to it’s length and complexity.
Two years ago, we were part of an independent study 4H project and given the rare opportunity to own two registered Kunekune sows, through a grant offered by a breeder. At that time, we owned an unregistered boar piglet and had dreams of eventually obtaining a gilt, to produce meat piglets for our own self sustenance.
Being brand new to Kunekunes, I was completely unaware as to how anything related to the breed worked. I didn’t understand registration or how the registration process worked, and I didn’t ask questions or research the breeder. I believed the things she said, and trusted that she was honest and legitimate because she was involved with 4H, and also had past involvement in the creation of one of the breed registries- AKKPS. My son was in 4H, and our first two pigs were granted to us by said breeder, through 4H, with full registration- in trade for two pick of litter piglets from the sows. It sounded too good to be true and in retrospect, it was.
We were led to believe the sows were worth thousands of dollars and that we would be able to easily sell some registered piglets for $1000-1500 each, stock our freezer with meat, and have funds available to build our new farm’s infrastructure. The breeder told us how she had made a lot of money selling Kunekunes. When she pulled up to deliver the pigs in shiny, top model pickup truck with matching trailer, I believed her. We were very excited at the prospect of being able to install fencing, shelters, and anything else our farm might need to grow- financed by the sale of some piglets once or twice a year.
Days turned into months and we never got the papers- only excuses. After six months passed, there were a lot of issues within the 4H project and while we had no intention of not continuing the project, we asked to switch to a different project leader to report to. This got back to the breeder, and she immediately threatened to take back our pigs, which were both pregnant and due to farrow within 4-6 weeks. I texted back and forth with the breeder for hours and she finally understood that my Son was not leaving 4H, and agreed for us to proceed down our original grant plan. Then, she suddenly withdrew again, sending me an angry text message, making legal threats, and telling me to just keep the pigs, “free and clear, with no obligations or encumbrances”. But, they would be unregistered. We never even knew the age, bloodlines or pedigrees of our pigs. We only knew their names.
At that point, I enlisted the help of 4H, feeling fully confident that an organization like 4H would never allow such a thing to happen to a participant when the family and child were at absolutely no fault, and were just dealing with an irrational, rogue breeder. I had proof in writing! BUT… 4H provided no protection for us, or resolution… in fact, they did the exact opposite and treated me like some sort of criminal, even to the point of chastising me. I left a meeting with them in tears, feeling humiliated and torn. Over a year has passed and I still don’t feel comfortable setting foot in my own county Ag extension building. My Son continues his 4H project, but in an adjacent county.
We felt helpless and reached out to 4H on the State level and AKKPS for help. Again, 4H was of no assistance, and had no interest in even seeing the 52 pages of text messages I had shared with the breeder- which proved what we had been promised from day one. We hoped AKKPS could help, since this breeder had been previously involved with the creation of the registry. We discovered that AKKPS is unable to act as a governing body and negotiate registration issues. Her past involvement with AKKPS was irrelevant, as she was no longer involved in any way and had not been- for many years.
Over the next few months, we joined both AKKPS and AKPR. With herd book access, I was able to identify our pigs by name. They weren’t pigs she had bred on her farm, as we had been told- they were pigs she had purchased from another farm. I was able to see that she had not been doing litter notifications or registering pigs for many years. She was a completely inactive breeder, which was the opposite of what she had led us to believe. She had done a few litter notifications in 2012-2014, but nothing since 2014, and she was no longer a member of AKKPS. I was shocked at how we had been so skillfully lied to, and even more so- that I had believed her. If I had only contacted AKKPS or AKPR from the start, and been able to see the herd book’s hard data– facts that cannot be refuted- and known she had not been forthcoming with us, I would not have ever gotten involved with her and the 4H program. I would have done my research and purchased breeding stock from another breeder.
I ended up spending almost an entire year trying to get pigs registered that should have been registered as promised, when the breeder said they would be. We were left with two litters of piglets, none of which could be registered- because we ourselves did not hold the papers in our names and she gave constant excuses as to why she hadn’t transferred the papers, or even cast blame on the registry for being slow and backed up when I confirmed, that they were not! Would you be surprised if I told you that contact with said breeder continued well through the Summer, with her trying on various occasions to again confiscate the pigs, make legal threats, and to completely ruin me within the Kunekune community? All of this happened, and to this day, this breeder is still funneling pigs into my county’s 4H program and selling “registered” breeding stock to unsuspecting families. These families are farrowing litters and they think their pigs will be registered, and that they can sell registered piglets- for the very same reasons that we did. 4H will protect them. AKKPS can get the registrations for us. Everything will be alright.
Our story finally had a happy ending, as with the assistance of AKPR’s “Undocumented Registration” service, we were able to plead our case and provide written proof (Text messages, emails) that we had been promised registration papers all along in exchange for two piglets. With this original trade of piglets for papers off the table, a fair price was negotiated for our two pigs and the pigs were paid for. AKPR negotiated with the breeder, and resolution was reached- but what a stressful time it was. All of it could have been avoided… if only I had known better. To this day I am still deeply saddened at how 4H handled it all, and that there are other kids and families in 4H who are being fed the same lies we were. Over the past year I’ve been approached by so many people who have had difficult dealings with this same breeder. So many stories similar to my own, years of history of not transferring papers or doing litter notifications. Pigs sold as registered breeding stock that are neither registered, nor able to be registered within complicated rounds of DNA testing and figuring out years of breedings that were never notified to either registry. It’s a tangled web and so many people have been hurt and taken advantage of by this person. Families in my own region who happily think they have registered pigs and that she will send their papers… just like I did.
To that end, I offer you this advice so that you can be more confident about any choices you make. While my situation had a positive outcome, many people are not so lucky. Save yourself the heartache!