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  #1  
Old 01/21/10, 09:49 AM
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Lightbulb Raising Hogs, worth it?

I was thinking of raising some hogs to make some extra money this year. I was curious what other people's experiences have been raising pigs for profit.

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Old 01/21/10, 09:54 AM
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We have been kicking around the idea too so I am interested in the responses to this one.

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Old 01/21/10, 10:44 AM
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We make money at it. Realize it took a while to work out the systems and market. If you feed commercial hog feed or other grains it really bites into your margin. Look at what you're going to pay for feed as that is by far the biggest cost. The cost of feed has risen dramatically in the last few years. Can you pasture? More learning curve. Next look at what you'll need for infrastructure - e.g., fencing, etc. If you already have it this helps.

See:

http://sugarmtnfarm.com/blog/2005/08...-for-meat.html

and

http://sugarmtnfarm.com/blog/2006/07...pig-share.html

Which will give you some numbers but realize that costs and prices vary tremendously with where you are located. If you're in high hog production areas then it may be hard to sell niche pork. Be prepared to market. What are you going to do that makes it better to buy from you rather than the "manager's special" at the super market.

If you want piglets for this summer you best get a deposit in now with a breeder. We already have reserves out into May and generally sell out through August or even September. Don't wait for the last minute to get your weaner pigs.

Have fun and good luck!

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Save 30% off Pastured Pork with free processing: http://SugarMtnFarm.com/csa
Read about our on-farm butcher shop project: http://SugarMtnFarm.com/butchershop

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Old 01/24/10, 06:03 PM
 
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I think it really depends on your area and possible clientele. In a poor area or one where lots of pigs are raised you may have trouble getting your money out of them. In a wealthy area where people are willing to pay for humanely/locally raised food you can do quite well.

As a starter if you already know you have a market for a few of them to friends, get 5-6 weaners and just charge enough for them to where you get the one you put in YOUR freezer for free. A friend of mine does that every year along with several beeves. She could sell 2-3x as many because word of mouth has spread about how good her meat tastes, but she doesn't want to do any more than that. I raised three last year and sold the extra two to friends, who now say I have to raise them one EVERY year :-)

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Old 01/24/10, 09:40 PM
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We have raised our own from piglets for years and did just that sold them to cover our feed and processing costs. That has done well. We are thinking about going the next step and actually keeping a sow and raising a litter or 2. I am wondering how the costs of having your own piglets vs. buying them works out.

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Old 01/25/10, 02:16 AM
 
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Whether it is worth it to breed your own litters will depend a great deal on your feed costs. Our breaking even point for a litter of 8 piglets is $65. We can easily get $100-$125 for spring piglets. Fall piglets, we are very happy if we can get $50. Auction ones only get about $30. That is paying $250 per ton for feed. Is it profitable, NO. We do it because we want to. Now we are looking at changing our program to herritage pigs. We are selling all of our Yorks and Hamps and going to Berks and 1 Spot and 1 Duroc with a Berk boar. We'll see in time if that is the right thing to do.

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Old 01/25/10, 11:28 AM
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When you're figuring this out, make a spreadsheet, put in all the numbers, figure it out in great detail as to what your costs will be in terms of time and money. Do the math. Figure it for one pig vs 4 pigs too. Then realize that no matter how good you are you'll get it wrong. That's just life. Reality happens. But the penciling it out is good exercise.

Keep track of it all and after you've done it for a a batch of pigs go back and see how it compared with how you thought things would be. Run a new set of numbers.

Rinse & repeat.

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-Walter
Sugar Mountain Farm
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Save 30% off Pastured Pork with free processing: http://SugarMtnFarm.com/csa
Read about our on-farm butcher shop project: http://SugarMtnFarm.com/butchershop

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  #8  
Old 01/25/10, 04:48 PM
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Originally Posted by Feathers-N-Fur View Post
Whether it is worth it to breed your own litters will depend a great deal on your feed costs. Our breaking even point for a litter of 8 piglets is $65. We can easily get $100-$125 for spring piglets. Fall piglets, we are very happy if we can get $50. Auction ones only get about $30. That is paying $250 per ton for feed. Is it profitable, NO. We do it because we want to. Now we are looking at changing our program to herritage pigs. We are selling all of our Yorks and Hamps and going to Berks and 1 Spot and 1 Duroc with a Berk boar. We'll see in time if that is the right thing to do.
Do you mean $100-125 per piglet, or for the whole lot?
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Old 01/25/10, 07:54 PM
 
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I am sure they mean per piglet. It's the same in my area (northern Idaho). Spring piglets -- crossbreds usually York/Hamp -- are never under $100 because they are in high demand for fair pigs. Late summer/fall piglets run $50-65 each because the demand is much less, the fair is over and people don't want to raise pigs over the winter.

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Old 01/26/10, 12:16 PM
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Do you mean $100-125 per piglet, or for the whole lot?
I would suspect they meant per piglet. We get $125 as our low price which is for feeder weaners. Goes up to $230 for select piglets. Spring is the high demand time for piglets. We have reserves out through May already and each year are sold out through August or even September. I used to drop the price more in the fall but don't now. I can get $630 after raising them up to finishers as meat so I don't cut prices by very much in the fall, better to just raise them up over the winter.
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Old 01/26/10, 12:59 PM
 
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Wow in Ok fall pigs are about $30 and spring is about $50. large almost grown pigs are going for about $100 with papers $200

I did 3 pigs one year and just loved it. The meat for our own use was well worth it. We moved so we are not set up anymore.

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  #12  
Old 01/27/10, 07:06 AM
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We sell ours as feeder pigs at about 8 weeks. We don't raise our own feed so, feeding out hogs is not feasible for us, unless we just feed one or two for our own use. I sold my feeder pigs for $18 each last fall. Prices around here have gone down in the last couple of years.

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  #13  
Old 01/28/10, 09:09 AM
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Define "worth it" btw.

It depends on your personal beliefs and such too...

For me, specifically, I want to know my dinner was fed nutritionally, loved, and killed humanely. Yes, I still buy Grocery Meat.

And although I buy Grocery Meat, I'm also quite proud of the fact that I know where, when, how and why my animal was killed and processed when I butcher my animals for the table/freezer.

And I can say I'm not adding to the tankage and such that become a problem when there are MILLIONS of animals processed. Not that they aren't dealt with humanely specifically, of course... ...and that I can feed myself and KNOW where porkchops are on a pig. And where skirt steak comes from. And what part chicken tenders come from...


Anyway. Just be aware that MY definition of worth is not necessarily your definition. And that your definition may change for you over time. Enjoy your pigs, enjoy your knowledge. It's your knowledge and no one can take it away from you. Unless we're talking Alzheimers... sad to say...

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Old 01/28/10, 10:54 AM
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Wow! I can't believe the prices some of y'all get for feeder piglets. Here in Arkansas it averages $30 per piglet.

We have raised an average of 4 hogs a year for the last 8 years. We put 2 in our freezer and sell 2 to cover our costs. Ours have always been outside with sheds for weather and on at least some grass but we have gradually moved to all pasture now that the cows are all gone. We have a really nice mixed breed sow that we have raised from 6 weeks old. She is very friendly and so we are kicking around the idea of keeping her and raising a litter of piglets this year.

What I am wondering is how much will we have to increase our infrastructure as the pig gets bigger and what is the real cost of keeping that mother pig while she is pregnant and over the whole year vs. just paying for 4 piglets every year? I am guessing it's probably cheaper to just buy the piglets so I was just wondering how it had worked out for others.

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Old 01/28/10, 04:11 PM
 
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Here in NC Kansas you can not raise a market hog and make any money in fact you will lose money..I can go to the sale barn every week and buy a 250 lb fat hog for less than 80.00 bring it home and feed it for 14 days to be sure the system is clean then take to the processor..the pork market here is terrible thanks to the mega pork growers

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Old 01/28/10, 06:16 PM
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If you can get piglets for $30 each then that is a better price than you'll likely to do having a sow.

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  #17  
Old 01/29/10, 12:46 PM
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At the very least, you should be able to end up with enough pork for your family for free. We have been doing this for several years, and word of mouth is all we do. All piggys are spoken for really quickly.

I agree with Walter, if you want them, you should reserve them now and not wait. We have to reserve ours right after Christmas - they are usually ready for us to pick up the weaner pigs mid-March.

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  #18  
Old 01/29/10, 07:46 PM
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you can get butcher hogs at the auction all day long here for 20 or 30$, however you'll pay $1.00-1.50 per pound for feeders.

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Old 01/30/10, 05:41 AM
 
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In western washington commercial feed is $280/ton, and it takes 1,000lbs of feed to bring a pig to market. Weaner pigs have a low price of around $50 in november, and a high of $125 in march.

So the economics around here for a winter farrowing are approximately 300 in feed + housing + labor yields you 8-10 piglets that sell for $50, say $500 if you manage to wean 10. So you can make a small profit. Born in early january and sold in march, the math looks better -- 300 in feed + housing + labor yields you $1250 assuming a weaning of 10.

Highlands quotes prices he's selling pigs for that are higher than any other I've seen for non-purebred weaner pigs; as with any claim on the internet take it with a grain of salt. His math is the same as mine about keeping pigs during the winter, however. I don't sell pigs in the winter; I raise them and sell them as finished pigs in the spring and summer. I do sell pigs in the spring to take advantage of the better prices.

Pigs are traditionally known as mortgage lifters -- you can make a dependable profit off of them if things go as they should. But with any new venture, you should expect to have some learning to do, which means that for the first few years you may not be as efficient as you hope. (=lower weaned pig count per litter born, etc)


Pig husbandry is a fairly low overhead operation that can be used as a teaching tool for children, as additional income, or as a relatively easy form of self-raised meat. I'd rate pig husbandry as being the next step up from chickens. The daily work is similar -- check the food and water, fill the feeder, scratch their ears, toss them a treat now and then, and call the farm kill guy in october.

Entries from my blog:
Pigs and profits

cost of raising pigs (2008 version)


Bruce / ebeyfarm.blogspot.com

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Old 01/30/10, 11:17 AM
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we try real hard to keep our feed costs down. we spend a fair amount of time gleaning and picking up what ever we can get for free or next to nothing. we wont buy in commercial feed. not worth it, and I want to know what my pigs are eating. today, it was apples, rice, baked potatoes, melon rinds, and deer carcass. they eat the bones like potato chips. it was all free + gas money and time.

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Old 02/01/10, 08:14 AM
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So take pity on the lowly soon to be pig farmer. We live in Northwest Montana on ten acres raising chickens, geese, ducks and rabbits. We are looking into getting two weaner pigs this spring to butcher in the fall. Don’t know what kind but they will most likely be a Yorkshire mix.

I’ve been reading around this site, and many others, but have a few questions. Yes we are trying to get our hands on that book every one recommends “Small Scale Pig Raising”, but it is currently out of the library and will be back in a few weeks. I like the idea of the “universal feed” but how much are we going to go through? I know there are many factors as to what else we feed them. Our tentative plans of right now are a movable pen. We really don’t have the funds to get the electric fence system we want, buy we figured a pen on skis could be pulled with the truck.

Being so far north we don’t have farms that grow much more than alfalfa and a few kinds of grain, so truck loads of pumpkins or yams are not in our future. We will be able to provide a large amount of veggies from our garden, all the hay they want along with the pasture grass/weeds, and maybe bread from an outlet.

I know, I know, a lot of jaw wagging to get to a few questions right?!

  • How much grain will two piggies go through, would it be worth it to buy a ton of the mix?
  • Do the new weaners need some thing more, at first, then grain and scraps?
  • Do we need to supplement with minerals/vitamins along with the grain?

Give me a few more minutes and I’m sure I can come up with a few more questions.
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Old 02/01/10, 10:53 AM
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what you need is a balanced diet. you feed all grain, you are going to have some fat pigs. like any other creatures, they are babies. they need protein, and carbs for fast growth, plus vitamins, minerals and nutrients. we have never bought a mineral supplement, but we feed a balanced diet. if you dont you might need that. I dont know.
when our pigs were approaching the 200# mark, they were eating more than a 5 gallon bucket of feed per day, each.

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Old 02/01/10, 11:14 AM
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Give me a few more minutes and I’m sure I can come up with a few more questions.
Get the book "Small Scale Pig Raising" by Dirk van Loon. Generally available used on Amazon for $10 or less. Excellent book. Now is winter, the time to read, read, read.

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Sugar Mountain Farm
Pastured Pigs, Sheep & Kids
in the mountains of Vermont
Read about our on-farm butcher shop project:
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Old 02/01/10, 01:00 PM
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"Being so far north we don’t have farms that grow much more than alfalfa and a few kinds of grain, so truck loads of pumpkins or yams are not in our future. We will be able to provide a large amount of veggies from our garden, all the hay they want along with the pasture grass/weeds, and maybe bread from an outlet.

I know, I know, a lot of jaw wagging to get to a few questions right?!
How much grain will two piggies go through, would it be worth it to buy a ton of the mix? "


Can I get a ball park on how much grain?

We are waiting on the book from the library.

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Old 02/01/10, 01:17 PM
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Hi All, Emma and I are new to this site but not new to raising animals. We raise Rabbits, Chickens, Ducks and Geese. Emma and I are trying to figure out if 2 pigs will eat a ton of grain before it goes bad. We both understand that it all depends on a whole bunch of things.

So, lets see if this help. We currently have 6 rabbits, 4 female and 2 male. We feed rabbit pellet and hay. We go through 80# of feed and 1/2 of a bale of hay in a month. So, that is about 14lbs of pellet and 5lbs of hay per rabbit per month.

Can anybody give us an idea of how much you feed your pigs in a month or from weaner to butcher.

Your help is greatly appreciated.

Scott

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Old 02/01/10, 02:07 PM
 
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In commercial operations on ton will feed three pigs from 50 lb to market. In your situation one ton will probably feed two pigs since the feed won't be optimally formulated to meet the pigs' changing nurtrient requirements.

Jim

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Old 02/01/10, 02:23 PM
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...besides, as Walter points out... WHEN you get tired of feeding them or cannot afford to feed them anymore? BUTCHER THEM. There's no "magic" weight other than the optimum meat-to-bone ratio that puts them at about 220# - 250# or so.

If you have little money? Butcher them early. If you have lots of hay and cast-off goodies (like whey, free bread & veggies, etc.) feed them longer.

The QUALITY of the meat will be amazing. Either way.


I raised some turkeys one year. The difference in the taste was incredible. I'm not sure I'd like to raise turkeys all the time? Because they are two-legged hogs and can get a little aggressive, but the flavor. Oh my.


If you can't get bread in the Summer (and remember it'll go moldy very quickly in the Summer - I know this for a fact) then raise your hogs in the winter. If you start them late, feed them root crops from the garden in say late summer and then finish them with hay, gleaned grain, day-old breads and such? You can cut your feed bill. You don't HAVE to grow pigs year-round. Some folks do, but you only need 6 months for commercial hogs! By that thought, if you get them in September and butcher in February? You don't have to mess with them in the Spring Summer. Unless you WANT to...

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Last edited by Gailann Schrader; 02/01/10 at 02:27 PM. Reason: additional thoughts...
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Old 02/01/10, 03:38 PM
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If you're looking to keep the feed costs down, and this goes for more than just pigs, consider planting extra crops. We do it all by hand - it is pretty quick just broadcasting seed for most crops and a few that need poking like pumpkins. We plant beets, turnips, pumpkins, sunflowers, sunchokes, mangels and cole crops. All of these are very easy to grow even in our poor mountain soil on steep slopes.

Even better is to terrace the land, something we do a little each year and have the animals do by the way we have the fencing setup. This helps to improve the nutrient and water capture and retention of the land. We use our winter paddocks as large gardens for growing crops for the animals. Almost free feed.

Cheers

-Walter
Sugar Mountain Farm
Pastured Pigs, Sheep & Kids
in the mountains of Vermont
Read about our on-farm butcher shop project:
http://SugarMtnFarm.com/butchershop
http://SugarMtnFarm.com/csa

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  #29  
Old 02/02/10, 10:02 AM
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Thanks all for the information. We realize that a diet of nothing but grain would not be enough, balanced or nutritionally optimized. Our rabbits and chickens get kitchen and garden scraps daily on top of grain and the chickens free range. The pigs will get the same including pasture. As stated before, the pigs will be getting more than just grain.

With so many of you raising pigs and being frugal about it, we were actually looking for some cost estimates. We have some info on how much you're all paying for a ton of feed because you have posted rough estimates. What we are really looking for is how much you all go through in a season, from weaner to butcher. Since some of you have been doing it for some time or at least one season, you know how much grain you have used. This doesn't depend on anything because you've already done it. These numbers are what we are looking for and I think the OP is looking for the same.

Your help is greatly appreciated.:1pig::1pig:

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Old 02/02/10, 11:17 AM
 
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This is our second year of raising pigs. Last year we raised two, and this year, just one. Our biggest mistake the first year was going to the feed store weekly to buy our pig feed and grain one or two bags at a time. Even though the pigs had pasture, and loads of good stuff from our garden, the cost of buying grain and feed retail was twice as much as buying in bulk - and became quite a cost over run.

This year we picked up a pig off of Craig's List - a nice duroc already up to 100lbs. This family had purchased the pig at the State Fair as a pet not realizing how big he would get and that he would 'rototill the yard' as they put it. We drove two hours to a mill that only sells organic feeds and purchased what we calculated we needed to get him to weight - for half the cost of what we were paying for the same feed buying it at the feed store. Our calculations came in right on target and he is headed off to the butcher on the 10th.

We plan to keep the whole pig, less selling a small amount to close friends to cover our butchering costs. We expect to be out of pocket less than $2.00 a pound for the meat that ends up in our freezer.

Long story short...if you can find bulk, buy bulk. Best of luck to you.

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