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Thursday 19 April 2018

Size is the only thing stopping these pigs getting into the house

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Stock picture
Ann Fitzgerald

Ann Fitzgerald

'That'll do pig...' They may not be fluffy, but they are pink and adorable

I’ve discovered its delightfully liberating to watch a pig eating. We got two Kune Kune piglets as pets in May.

Their names are Pudding, which is black with white spots, while the orange one with brown spots is called Terry, after the chocolate orange.

Everyone knows the saying, “eat like a pig”. Having now seen this happening, I can understand its’ origin.

Pudding and Terry’s food format of choice is slop. First they hoover up any liquid. When it comes to the solids, they take a mouthful, lift up their heads, look straight ahead and chew with their mouths wide open. Stuff spatters everywhere or dribbles down their cheeks, unchecked.

It’s messy, uninhibited, joy. They seem to have an innate confidence in doing things their own way; if you don’t like it, that’s your problem. I envy that self-assurance.

One reason why its taken so long to write about them is that to give them a chance to settle in. But the main reason is such has been their rate of growth that I have scarcely been able to catch my breath.

I had done the research and knew there’s no such thing as a “teacup” pig and that Kune Kunes are the smallest breed of domestic pig. They can grow up to 60-100kg, less than half the size of an ordinary pig. But I now realise that this is still quite a substantial beast!

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When they arrived, at eight weeks old, they could stand in the old frying pan in which they were being fed. They have not grown much in height but are, I’d say, double the length.

Their size means that they are already too robust for the girls to feed them, their current trough being anchored by a 56lb weight.

They are housed in a stable, which opens onto a small paddock.

From the outset, Robin was determined that they weren’t coming into our house. The girls’ inevitable response to this was, “you said the same thing about Timmy (our terrier)”. Whenever they said this and I didn’t demur, he would shoot me a glance which said, “back me up here!”

As is turned out, their size sorted out that issue.

But, boy, are they good company. We didn’t have pigs when I was growing up so this has been a revelation.

They are supposed to be as intelligent as dogs. They also have a friendly, relaxed, robust, temperament and are great fun.

They are quite like a dog, really. Indeed, they often play with Timmy. When they arrived, he was bigger and we were scared that he might go for one of them. But there is no fear of that now and they often chase each other around the place - him running, them bounding, play-snapping at each.

I know this makes me sound like a total townie but their receptivity to attention is adorable. When you rub them along the flank, they make a sound that is a cross between a squeal and a purr (would that be a squrr?), lie down on their side and close their eyes, as if in a trance.

We had visions of teaching them, to sit, etc. That hasn’t happened. The one thing they have learned without difficulty is to know when food is coming. Even the rustle of a bag will get the squealing going.

Pigs would eat literally anything but they just get some low protein horse feed and greens from the garden.

So what does the future hold for Pudding and Terry?

Seemingly, the natural lifespan of a Kune Kune is about 20 years. In the short-term, after the calving is finished, they will be let off into a larger paddock.  Everyone says you should never give a name to something you’re going to eat.

In truth, we don’t know.

Both girls said they couldn’t eat their own pigs … but might be tempted by the other’s.

For now, we are just enjoying the camaraderie.


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