The Ashley Ridge Future Farmers of America are raising pigs in preparation for the Coastal Carolina Fair.
The pigs are kunekune pigs which are native New Zealand are growing in popularity around the state and the country as well. It is believed that in the 1970s there were only 50 kunekune pigs in the world. Kunekune pigs first came to the United States in 1996. They are still considered to be a rare breed.
Instructor Ben Gibson said that the group began breeding pigs in September 2018. The Ashley Ridge FFA first began breeding Mangalitsa pigs and other standard breeds. However, these breeds of pig were problematic in terms of selling them. The group almost considered removing swine from the farm.
The group decided to try the kunekune pigs and the breed did very good in the environment.
“The KuneKune has 3 main characteristics that make them perfect for farms like ours at Ashley Ridge. They have a short snout which helps them graze on grass and forage and makes them less likely to aggressively root up the ground like other swine breeds. They also have a calm and people-friendly attitude which makes them easy to work with and opposite of most other swine, actually enjoy people; making them great pets, even if for a short time,” Gibson explained.
The farm currently has 4 female kunekune pigs and 2 males. The pigs are raised to be sold both as pets and for their meat.
Gibson said that the group and the fair are also in talks to have the students work in the barns. The students would help in taking care of and cleaning up after the animals at the fair.
The FFA is also hoping to live stream a pregnant pig during the fair in hopes that the pig will give birth. The plan has taken a lot of planning on the part of the FFA they have currently timed the last two pregnancies of the last two pigs.
“Having good success in timing our 2 pig litters, we decided that our goal would be to have a pig bred in order to farrow during the Coastal Fair. We calculated the dates of the fair and found the middle date and then counted back 3 months, 3 weeks and 3 days; the gestation of a pig, and determined that we needed to breed our pigs as close to July 14th as possible. From there we timed when we put our boar in with the open (non-pregnant) females and watched them. We believe, based on observation, that if the breeding took, we should have at least one female that should be due toward the end of the fair. We plan to have the live stream working for fair patrons to see as well as follow at home, while also having some of our KuneKunes at the fair for them to see and even pet, if they should so desire,” said Gibson.