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Updated: May 17, 2021


I can't lie, I love pork. I should rephrase that, I love bacon and sausage comes in a close second! For years we decided that raising a pig was not a good option for our homestead. The huge feeder-type pigs were just something I didn’t feel comfortable adding to our grass fed homestead. I couldn’t see how a grain guzzling animal could ever survive on grass and they truly can't; the traditional feedlot breeds of pigs are developed to grow fast on grain. They are also grown on concrete so they don't destroy their environment. These pigs were born to root. Joel Salatin has developed a great system for this type of pig, so they can express their "piggyness". But, with having a minimal amount of space and not wanting that space to be completely destroyed, I just faced the fact that we were going to have to purchase our bacon. What's the phrase, "bringing home the bacon”. Yep, I was going to have to outsource our pork. Luckily' though because we raise most of everything else on our homestead we could purchase the high quality grass fed pork!


That was until I was introduced to the book Raising the Homestead Hog by Jerome D.Belanger. It was written in 1977. It is a great book that describes how pigs used to be raised on small farms. That meant that most small farms would only own a couple of pigs and feed them mostly kitchen scraps and maybe a little leftover grain. Grain used to be a product that was hard to grow in abundance. Who knew, right! They also raised smaller pigs and most of our nowadays breeds are twice the size of these older heritage breed pigs.


I love the idea of raising a smaller Heritage breed of pig that I could feed pumpkins and a little bit of grain and grass! I know, I have told you all several times a homestead's main crop is grass! Grass is the perfect feed! For so many reasons!


Let's get back to my pig problem.


This book, in a nutshell, taught me that a commercial type of pig was not the only type of pig out there and that I could find a pig that would be perfect for my homestead.


My next step was to find a local or somewhat local producer that raised that said pig. I did some research and the closest breeder was more than 500 miles away. Also, my husband was on the fence about it. God willing though, one of my close friends started raising Kunekune pigs.



Kunekune Heritage Pigs


Kunekune is pronounced (Cooney, Cooney). Kunekune means “fat and round” in the Mesabi language. These medium-sized, calm, well-tempered lard pigs come from New Zealand. It is unknown for sure what their heritage is exactly, but it is estimated that they are Berkshire, Poland, China crosses. A lard pig is a pig that produces more of the fat that can be rendered for lard. Lard was the staple of the homestead kitchen and should still be. The adult females average 100-175 lb and males 200 to 250 lbs. That is a fraction of the commercial Pig weight of about 500 lb. Kunekune are grazing pigs and don't need a huge amount of grain, but they are slow-growing. Meaning, it takes them longer to grow to their full size. What I loved is that their main food source was grass and they would need grain only as a supplement. Now, even though these pigs were different from commercial pigs, they are going to need all the basic things to grow and survive.



Feeding Kunekune Pigs


Because Kunekune eat mostly grass, they are going to need access to pasture. This pasture is going to need to have the proper pig fencing. They don't commonly push on fences but remember, "grass is always better on the other side of the fence”. Grass, on its own, has a limited amount of grazing time and that is about seven months here in Wyoming. When the pasture stops growing and winter sets in, Kunekune can be fed hay. They love alfalfa!


They also love kitchen scraps and garden waste. They will eat anything from the garden except onions and garlic. They also need grain as a supplement. They will need access to water, but unlike commercial pigs they don't insist on wallowing. It only occasionally happens in the extreme heat of Summer.




Housing Kunekune Pigs


Like all animals they're going to need access to shade and have a means of getting out of the rain. Here, in Wyoming, they will also need some type of house that will keep them cool in the summer and warm in the winter. When we got our first Kunekune, her name was Gilda by the way, we were not sure if having a pig was going to be the permanent addition to our homestead. We built her house using about 7 old hay bales, stacked in a square with a small opening on one corner and put a pallet with a piece of tin on top for a roof. She loved that house, but by October she did not only love it but actually began to eat it! I don't think the little piggy who built the straw house would have lasted long even if the big bad wolf was not in the story. So, after finding that having a pig with a perfect for our homestead. I was determined to build a house truly worthy of being featured in the Old Fable. We didn't make a brick house but we did build a bunker as my boys call it.



This house is more properly described as an earth berm pig shelter. What I love about it is that it is 3/4 underground. And the Earth is the perfect and cheapest insulation you can find.


Here is how we built it!


First thing that was needed was some horsepower to dig a 4-foot by 6 foot by 4 foot hole in the side of one of our little hills that was located in our small Pig Pen. We did not dig this hole by hand but it could be done, for sure. My dad helped us with his excavator. We use this pig pen to house our pig when she's not out to pasture. It is a safe place from predators and is under a tree for the additional protection from wind, rain, and snow! This hole was about 4 ft deep in the back and 2 ft deep in the front because it was placed in a hill.




A List of Supplies:


5 pallet 4’ by 4’

OSB plywood

1 roll of ¾” Galvanized Steel Hanger Straps

90 degree brackets

Screws

Metal roofing


Tools:


Screw gun

Bit for your screws

Level

Shovels

Shovel with a straight blade for precise dirt work

Chain saw or other type of saw to cut a hole in front for a door


The next thing I did was place the pallets along the sides of the hole to form a square. You will need to make sure all the pallets are level and fit squarely.



I, then, used the steel straps to hold the pallets together on the outside and once the plywood was in I placed brackets on the inside to keep all the pallets snug. The plywood is cut to fit and screwed to the interior of the pallets to hold back the backfill of dirt from entering the house.




Next, my husband cut a hole out of the center of the front pallet for a door. The front pallet is not buried so we placed the plywood on the outside.



Last, was the roof. I placed a pallet on top and secured it with just a few screws. I planned for the roof to be easily removed so we can clean out the house when needed. Then, with my husband's help, I placed a couple pieces of metal roofing on top and secured it to the roof pallet.



My boys then filled the gaps around the house with the backfill dirt. I think this was the funnest build yet on our homestead! Till next time,


Pray, Just Plant!





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