How to Render Kunekune Lard

This post was written by Connor and originally appeared in his August 2016 4H blog.

Yesterday, my Mom and I rendered Lard for the first time using fatback from the two KuneKune boars we had processed.

Things you will need:

  1. A slow cooker
  2. 1/4 cup of water
  3. 1 piece of fatback
  4. Sharp Knife
  5. Cutting Board
  6. A piece of cheesecloth
  7. 1 Strainer
  8. A meat grinder or vegetable slicer


1. Cut the fatback up into smaller pieces to grind into shavings. (Make sure to cut off all the meat on the fatback) If you don’t have a grinder, you can cut it into shavings with a knife.

3. Add the 1/4 cup of water and the fatback into the slow cooker. Cook till the pieces of skin named cracklings in the lard are golden brown.

4. Separate the lard and the cracklings with cheesecloth and a strainer. Then pour the lard into a mason jar and let it cool off before putting it in the fridge. 

5. Fry the cracklings with the pork fat they are covered in and some salt. These are yummy toppings to put on salads and dishes.

The lard turned out to be a perfect snow white. For how much fatback we added to the crock pot I am thought there would be a lot more. At least it perfectly fit in the mason jar! We have leaf lard rendering right now it looks like it will fill two jars. I am very excited to cook and bake with lard for the first time.

What is “Rare Breed” Pork?


The question often comes up… what exactly is “rare breed” pork?

Simply put, it’s pork from rare breeds of swine. All rare breeds are heritage breeds, but not all heritage breeds are rare! In many cases, rare breed pork is produced by breed conservators working to secure the future of the rare breeds they work with. Animals have traceable pedigrees and parent stock is registered. Sometimes rare breed pork may be a cross of two rare breeds, such as a Meishan/Kunekune or Meishan/Gloucester Old Spots cross.

The pigs we raise are rare breeds. The Kunekune pig, utilized as we are, for pork production, is incredibly rare for pork use- most Kunekune pigs are sold as pets. The American Kunekune Pig Registry has averaged approximately 1000 piglets born annually over the last fifteen years, but of those, only an average of 300 piglets per year were actually registered as breeding stock (source: AKPR Herd Book). If the Livestock Conservancy did place the Kunekune pig under study, these statistics would place the Kunekune under “Threatened” status, which equates to less than 1,000 animals being registered per annum. “Critically Endangered” status is 200 or less registrations per year, which means the Kunekune are much closer to being Critically Endagered, than they are Threatened. Rare breed pork? You bet. Very rare, and in need of our stewardship.

In the 70’s, the Kunekune was almost extinct- just eighteen pigs saved the breed that today, is recovering. As the Kunekune is very rarely used for pork, it isn’t considered on many livestock lists, or pages showcasing rare breeds. The number of producers offering Kunekune pork in the USA is extremely small- a google search doesn’t yield much about Kunekune pork, or where to purchase it. Our farm is one of few offering USDA cuts and value added products. Commercially available Kunekune pork is a rarity, and dedicated breeders are seeking to change that!

The Meishan pig is globally threatened and under study with the Livestock Conservancy. The number of Meishan pigs in the United States is extremely small, and an even more minute percentage is registered.

The moniker “Rare Breed Pork” is often used erroneously.  Example (in the USA) Berkshire isn’t a rare breed.  Duroc isn’t a rare breed. Or Landrace. Or Yorkshire. Or Spots. Or Poland China. Or Bluebutt (that’s a cross!). Or Hampshire. Yorkshire is the most common breed of pig in the United States. Berkshire is the THIRD most common! (source: The former examples could/would more accurately be “Heritage Pork”in some cases (such as utilization of old lines from breeders raising for old fashioned, non-commercialized attributes), although for all intents and purposes, many of the breeders were “modernized” for muscle, leanness, fast growth, and less fat.

So, what breeds in the United STates ARE rare breeds?

Kunekune (Considered rare in the USA, especially for pork production. Conservation status listed with zoos nationwide as “not studied, considered rare” Kunekunes were originally raised for pork by the indigenous Maori people, but most in the UK and US see the breed as a pet)

Meishan * – Critically endangered as per Livestock Conservancy – Fewer than 200 annual registrations in the United States and estimated global population less than 2,000)

Ossabaw *

Mangalitsa – An imported rare breed from Hungary.

Gloucester Old Spots (not to be confused with “spots” or “old spots”– these latter two are not the same breed as the GOS!)

Red Wattle *

Mulefoot *

Choctaw *

American Guinea Hog *

Large Black *

Hereford *

Tamworth *

Saddleback *

* – asterisk breeds are listed rare with Livestock Conservancy.


Know your Breeder: Important Information about Purchasing Registered Kunekune Pigs

Kunekune pigs are growing in popularity for good reason. They are a joy to raise, and many people are realizing their potential as meat pigs. Whether you’re a homesteader, small farmer, heritage breed conservationist, or a 4H or FFA participant- Kunekune pigs are the top choice for being smaller in size and easier to manage, and for their propensity for grazing, being easy on pastures and fencing, and staying close to home. If you’ve never had Kunekune pork, be prepared for a scrumptious, premium pork experience!


Before you invest in Kunekunes, you should always do your research and learn as much as you can about how the breed registries and the registration process works.

There are two Kunekune breed registries- the American Kunekune Pig Registry and the American Kunekune Pig Society. Breeders can register with one, or with both. We are members of both, but our farm goals and breeding practices align more closely with AKPR. As such, we actively litter notify and register all of our pigs with AKPR. Each registry has similarities and differences, and for most choosing one of the other is a matter of personal preference.


  • AKPR is the original official foundation registry, founded in 2006. Cost is $40 per year. Herd book access, litter notifications, registrations AND transfers are FREE. Upon joining AKPR, you’ll receive a herd book prefix unique to your farm name. For example, our herd book prefix is CBF – Corva Bella Farm.  JOIN AKPR
  • AKKPS is a second official breed registry that went online in 2013. Cost is $40 per year for a family membership. Litter notifications are $20/each. Registration is $15 per piglet or transfer. Again, upon joining you will receive a unique herd prefix to use in association with your litter notifications and registrations. JOIN AKKPS


Taking the time to become educated about the process can save you a lot of potential frustration. Just as there are both good people and bad people in this world, when it comes to livestock and registered stock- there will always be good experiences and bad experiences. Being aware of how the process works will help you protect yourself and ensure that you have ultimately, a GOOD experience. I speak from experience, having had a unfortunate one, which could have been avoided if we had done our research.


1. Anyone offering you registered piglets for sale should be active members of either the American Kunekune Pig Registry OR the American Kunekune Pig Society.


These are breed registries which maintain herd books and provide registration services. You can verify if someone is a member, but be vigilant- just because someone is a member doesn’t mean they are going to be ethical breeders. Neither breed registry acts as a governing agency.




2. You can verify that the breeder is actively providing litter notifications and/or registering pigs to customers.  The logging of litter notifications indicates a breeder is active and is participating in keeping the herd book populated with data from the foundation stock in their herd. It also means that if they should decide to register an exceptional piglet, the very first step of the registration process is done. To register a piglet the steps are simple. First, breeder does a litter notification. Then, they pull hair samples and send in to UC Davis Veterinary Genetics Laboratory (an account is set up for breeders in association with the registries they are members of). Once DNA results are returned which verify the PARENTS of the piglet in question, that piglet can be registered.


The AKPR herd book is public, and you can search under a breeder’s last name, and see their activity. AKKPS is a private herd book that only registered breeders with herd book access can view. For example, here is our farm’s litter notifications with AKPR. You can see that we are currently notifying the registry of litters of piglets born on our farm. We don’t have many piglets registered for numerous reasons including the fact that most piglets are raised for meat, some piglets are being retained for observation and will be registered later on, and the fact that most piglets will not have that special something that makes them worthy of registration.


3. If someone is advertising registered piglets, they should be able to discuss the pedigree and bloodlines of their foundation stock with you, and be knowledgeable about it, and provide you with details about the pedigree.  If someone can’t tell you what bloodlines their parent stock is, or gives a convoluted explanation about why they don’t know, WALK AWAY. Registered pigs have bloodlines, and may be names may appear such as “Wilsons Gina/Mahia Love” or “Kereopa/Boris” or any of the other names seen here.


Most breeders will freely share with you, the pedigrees of their parent stock. This is what a pedigree looks like for AKKPS and for AKPR.


4. A person can only register piglets from parent stock, if they are the registered owners of the SOW. It must be in their name. If it is in someone else’s name, they cannot register the piglets. If someone says “My pigs are registered but someone else is holding their papers for me and says they will register any piglets born on my farm”, WALK AWAY. This is a recipe for disaster!

Registration is a detailed but simple process that requires dedication to numerous steps, all which must be carried out by the breeder and farm where the piglets were born- not someone who is hours or several states away.  Registering online is very easy to do for both registries. There is NO EXCUSE for a breeder not to do it, or to make excuses as to why they can’t do it. Mail-in options also exist for registration. There is no excuse for registrations or transfers not to occur, other than sheer laziness or intent to purposefully not register. And fraud- a breeder who has fraudulently sold you unregistered stock as registered with promise of forthcoming registration papers.


* Remember… piglets can only be registered by the registered owner of the sow.


* A person can’t buy an unregistered pig and later get that pig registered unless the person who sold it to them in the first place agrees to transfer the registration.


* A person can’t buy an unregistered piglet and somehow get that piglet registered by another party with a “DNA test”. Only the original breeder of that piglet can handle all of the necessary steps for registration.


* If you have written and/or contractual proof of purchasing a registered pig, and the breeder has not followed through with registration despite repeated attempts, you can potentially obtain registration through AKPR’s “Undocumented Registration”. There are no guarantees, but it is the best place to start.


Good communication, a contract, and/or proof of purchase are very important and a legitimate breeder will freely provide this type of documentation.  Most breeders these days have websites and a social media presence, such as Facebook, Instagram, or a blog. Check those sources out!  There’s lots of fantastic Kunekune groups on Facebook. Join some groups and get in on the discussion. Ask questions. Kunekune owners LOVE to talk about their pigs, answer questions and help a newbie out. Don’t be shy!


In summary, don’t be afraid to ask the following questions:
1. Are you a breeder registered with the American Kunekune Pig Registry and/or American Kunekune Pig Society?
2. What are the blood lines of the piglets you’re selling?
3. Can I see the parent’s pedigrees, and photos of the parents?
4. Is the sow in your name? Do you own the sire?
5. Will this piglet be suitable for pairing with another gilt/boar that I own?
6. Can you look at pedigrees and/or discuss conformation with me, to make the best decision for my goals?
7. What is your vaccination and/or worming protocol? What will my piglet receive?
8. Does my piglet come with a health guarantee? A breeding guarantee?
9. Will you be there for me to ask questions further down the road if I need help?
10. Do you promise to register my piglet/transfer my pig in a reasonable amount of time and can we have a contract in writing?