When Jamie and Zach moved from Colorado to buy a fixer-upper on a 4-acre plot outside of Austin, Texas, they immediately felt the calling to add farm animals to their property.
“I was itching to get farm animals the second we closed on this house,” says Jamie. “Kunekunes came up as a beginner-friendly homestead animal, so we bought two pet Kunekunes. Now almost two years later, we have increased our collection to nine adult pigs and over 50 chickens.”
Since officially forming Jach’s Farm, the venture has strived to become a staple of the local community. “We sell our rainbow eggs to people around town and have several regular customers,” says Jamie. “We also of course sell our piglets, and we love watching people pick up their piglets and bring them home. It is so rewarding to know that we can contribute to local families raising their own pork or even watch families raise one of our Kunekune piglets as a pet.”
We spoke to Jamie about Kunekune behavior patterns and a livestock guardian named Bandit. We also got into cupcake treats for pigs.
A Gentle Natured Piglet
When deciding to make Kunekunes an integral part of Jach’s Farm, the breed’s”gentle nature” and smaller-than-usual size were all important factors.
“After a few months of having our beloved pet Kunekunes, we decided to dive headfirst into breeding,” explains Jamie. “We were inspired to preserve and further the breed by following in the footsteps of other amazing Kunekune breeders.”
Read more: Learn more about the adorable Kunekune breed of pigs!
How to Raise Pigs Ethically
“We initially said we would never raise Kunekunes for meat,” says Jamie of her and Zach’s initial farm plans and discussions. “But after doing research on how commercial pigs are raised for slaughter, we quickly realized that we could lovingly and ethically raise happy and healthy pigs as meat for ourselves and help others understand where their food comes from.”
Ultimately, Jamie says, “Our goal is to one day be able to sell local pastured pork to those in our community.”
Respect the Pecking Order
When it comes to Kunekune behavior and quirks, Jamie says it’s fascinating to watch how early in life they begin to assign a pecking order.
“Piglets will be 2 to 3 days old and start battling for head pig status,” she says. “They instinctively start fighting to create a hierarchy within the litter. It’s fun to watch, but it can be brutal!”
Treat ‘Em Right
Back in March, some of the Kunekunes at Jach’s Farm were treated to some vibrant green cupcakes in celebration of St. Patrick’s Day.
It turns out, treats are worked into the weekly feeding routine.
“Every week they get fruit and vegetable scraps,” explains Jamie. “The nursing sows always get a piece of fruit with their lunch, but on occasion they do get people food for special occasions. They get cupcakes for birthdays and sometimes on holidays.
“One of the weirdest foods we’ve given them are sour gummy worms. They don’t get them by the handful of course. Just one or two does the trick.”
Give It Up for Bandit!
Keeping watch over the Kunekunes and livestock at Jach’s Farm is a 1 1/2-year-old farm guardian dog named Bandit. But while Bandit now knows “how to keep his distance from newborn piglets” and understands boundaries with the adults, it wasn’t always that way.
“As a puppy Bandit had a hard time picking up on social cues from the pigs and vice versa,” says Jamie. “For instance, dogs growl as a warning when they need space. Pigs don’t understand that. So as a puppy Bandit had to be trained not to resource guard around the pigs. It took several months for him to really understand boundaries with the pigs—but he is now a pro!”
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