Gilts start to have heat cycles between 7 and 11 months of age.
They can start to breed at this age but I do not recommend breeding until 14-18 months of age.
Gilts need to be not only physically mature but also mentally mature and being physically mature contributes to a smooth and safe farrowing.
Being mentally mature enables good mothering skills.
Boars breeding instincts and capability to breed can kick in as early as 5 to 6 months.
Often boars are actively breeding by 1 year of age but some may take a bit longer to figure it all out.
Separating Gilts & Boars
We separate males and females starting at 6 months of age.
A heat cycle occurs every 18-21 days throughout the entire year and lasts about 3 days.
There is a 24-36 hour period where the sow/gilt is in standing heat and will accept the boar.
Sows & Gilts vulvas swell during this time and I have noticed many have a clear/white discharge if you look close enough.
Selecting Which 2 KuneKunes to Pair Together for Breeding
At Red Roof KuneKunes we select breed out KuneKune stock.
This means we pick a specific boar and specific sow/gilt to breed together.
Why do we do this?
We can select certain traits from each of the breeding pair to try and breed for the best characteristic in each pig and offset the less desirable traits.
We can ensure that the pairing is not too closely related and are able to offer our clients breeding pairs that we are positive are not related.
Additionally, we do not have to rely on the required DNA verification by UC Davis.
All of our breeding KuneKunes sold are parentage DNA tests as it is a requirement for registration
We move the chosen dam to the sire's field and she lives with the boar until 2 weeks prior to farrowing when she is moved to her individual farrowing quarter.
We track heat cycles daily to ensure that we know the approximated due date of the sow/gilt.
A breeding is not always witnessed so tracking heat cycles is the best way to know if a sow is bred as well as when her due date should be.
At Red Roof KuneKunes each sow has her own farrowing quarter and we do not co-farrow or co-mother.
Sows remain solely with their litter in their farrowing area until piglets are weaned between 7 and 9 weeks of age.
Our farrowing quarters have the following:
10x10 stall accessible to outdoors
connecting 40x40 outdoor area
crush rails around the entire perimeter of the stall
2x2 creep area
2 safety Premier One heat lamps over the creep area
1 Carbon Fiber heat lamp
2 barn fans
a light layer of fresh hay
Signs That a Gilt or Sow is Close to Farrowing
I can not tell you how often I get the questions
IS MY SOW CLOSE TO FARROWING?
IS MY PIG PREGNANT?
Tracking heat cycles is KEY to knowing when your sow is due to farrow but life happens and sometimes this just simply does not happen.
KuneKunes stomachs start to get a crescent moon shape in the last 1/3 of their pregnancy.
Sows vulvas will start to swell a few weeks from farrowing.
3 or 4 days before farrowing their vulvas will elongate and start to relax.
The sides of the vulva will be very wrinkled.
A lot of people will look for a milk line.
KuneKunes do get milk lines but many are not nearly as pronounced as larger breeds of swine.
KuneKunes get utter tissue and coned shaped within the last week leading up to farrowing.
In some sows you can express a bit of colostrum.
If you get colostrum the rule of thumb is within 24 hours.
A month or so before farrowing I can usually FEEL piglets moving.
I place my hand in the crook of the back leg and up a bit to feel.
There are times I have set for 30 minutes waiting to feel piglets move!
10 days prior to farrowing I can usually SEE piglets moving.
The best time to observe for this is while the sow is sleeting.
It will look like kicks and waves.
I have sat watching for 15 minutes waiting to see the piglets move!