Indigenous pigs in South Africa are a source of food and economic autonomy for people in rural small-scale farming systems. The objective of the study was to assess the potential of indigenous pigs for improving communal farmer's livelihoods and to inform policy-makers about the conservation of indigenous pigs. Data were collected from 186 small-scale subsistence-oriented households and 102 small-scale market-oriented households using interviews and direct observations. Ninety-three percent of subsistence-oriented and 82 % of market-oriented households kept indigenous pigs such as Windsnyer, Kolbroek and non-descript crosses with exotic pigs mainly for selling, consumption and investment. Farmers in both production systems named diseases and parasites, followed by feed shortages, inbreeding and abortions as major constraints for pig production. Diseases and parasites were more likely to be a constraint to pig production in subsistence-oriented systems, for households where the head was not staying at home and for older farmers. Market-oriented farmers ranked productive traits such as fast growth rate, good meat quality and decent litter size as most important selection criteria for pig breeding stock, while subsistence-oriented farmers ranked good meat quality first, followed by decent growth rate and by low feed costs. We conclude that there is high potential for using indigenous pigs in subsistence-oriented production systems and for crossbreeding of indigenous pigs with imported breeds in market-oriented systems.