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  #1  
Old 02/16/11, 10:55 PM
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How to sell your hogs

I've been a heritage breed farmer and Registrar for one of the heritage breed associations for some time and I've been pretty successful selling my pigs which are in pretty high demand. One of the things I've learned, however, is no matter how desirable your products are you still have to market them; people will not come knocking at your door unless they know you are out there. I have some acquaintances that breed really good pigs but get frustrated when their neighbors don't want them or are unwilling to pay the price for quality stock.

Homesteading Today (HT) is a great place to speak with other hog folks and, for the newbies, stick around and you will meet some great folks. You might sell a few hogs here too. But if you really want to kick into high gear you should think about these options:

1. Get a website or blog. Unless they live very close to you, classified ads in the newspaper just won't find your customers. You want people all around your state, perhaps even the U.S., to know that you have hogs or pork for sale. Think about this: what do you do when you are looking for something? Do you use Google? Well, guess how the things you find get listed on Google? Yep, from websites and blogs. You don't have to be a computer nerd or pay lots of money to get a website or blog. There are lots of inexpensive sites that will help you get it done.

2. Join other hog groups. HT is a good place with lots of good folks (and I highly recommend sticking around here) but there are others out there as well. If you raise a specific breed then join that breed association. Look for other websites that cater to small farmers and see if they have a forum or user group. Heritage Hog Breeders Club is one that I've recently started, Yahoo Groups has some really good forums, Hobby Farms has another and, if you sell pork, get listed at Local Harvest.

3. Use Craigslist. Although you may think of Craigslist as just a place to clean out your garage or barn I sell a lot of my piglets there. Don't just assume that the one closest to you is the only one to use; check out all the Craigslist cities near you and see how active their Farm & Garden section is. You may be surprised at all the customers out there that are willing to pay you what your hogs and pork are worth.

4. Don't forget Facebook and Twitter. These may seem to be just playgrounds for your kids but lots of small farms use them to attract business. Take a look at my Facebook page and Twitter feed and you can see what I'm doing there. Run some searches and you will find lots of small farmers that are using Facebook and Twitter to their advantage.

5. My last bit of advice and one that I've harped on for awhile. DON'T SELL LOW! If you think that your hogs or pork are really good stuff then don't try to compete with others that provide lesser products (Walmart and the other guy on Craigslist). Price your products at what they are worth. Don't worry that people can get cheaper hogs at the sale barn; if they want that stuff then let them have it. Your hogs are healthier, make better feeders and breeders, and you deserve to make money at what you are doing. Be patient and the smart customers, who appreciate quality and the value of small farmers, will buy your stuff.

We talk a lot about price and quality, and about how difficult it can be to sell, but I know from experience that if you put in the work you can get what your hogs and pork are worth. Produce good stuff, get out there on the web and tell people how good your stuff is, and buyers will come your way.

Best luck to all.

Brian

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Large Black and Gloucestershire Old Spot pigs
Homegrown Acres
Heritage Hog Breeders Club!


Last edited by HeritagePigs; 02/16/11 at 11:24 PM.
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  #2  
Old 02/17/11, 01:43 AM
 
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Some great advice there Brian, good job!!

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  #3  
Old 02/17/11, 08:32 AM
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Thanks, Billy.

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  #4  
Old 02/17/11, 09:21 AM
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I am brand spanking new to the website and new to raising hogs of about 2 months. Any quick helpful tips of marketing a little bit simpler? All that information was great stuff, but I only have 1/2 dozen hogs.

Thanks a lot
Blake

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  #5  
Old 02/17/11, 12:28 PM
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Excellent advice, Brian.

I would add a number 6, if you don't mind...

6. You're Not Making a Sale; You're Establishing a Relationship! Treat your customers well. Take time to get to know them. And follow up on that relationship periodically. It only takes a second to ask Jane how she and her husband are doing on their kitchen remodel when she comes to pick up her next order of sausage on the farm and it makes her feel good! Do it! People who have been here countless times still like to go walk around and see everything when they're here. Say hi to the breeding animals they've come to know by name; watch the others who are being grown out eat, sleep, play; see what's in the garden this year, etc. But some are also too shy to ask. So offer! Offer to walk them around and answer questions, talk about operations, etc. Every time, not just the first. Establish a relationship and you'll have clients for life, not just once. And that makes all your work that much easier.

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  #6  
Old 02/17/11, 12:52 PM
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Wonderful advice Brian, now can you help me market my Raw milk that I can`t advertise that I sell off the farm. > Thanks Marc

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  #7  
Old 02/17/11, 12:56 PM
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Marc, are cow shares illegal, too?

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  #8  
Old 02/17/11, 03:32 PM
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Blake, it does take some work to sell your pigs and get anything near what they are worth. If you think of selling hogs for any length of time then now is the time to get your farm out there. You have to build your customer base over time. If you join my new service I'll help walk you through setting up your blog and posting ads and your first 3 months of are free to see if selling on the Internet makes sense for you. And if you are really nice I might even show you how Craigslist works and help you set up your Facebook and Twitter feeds...

Marc, with a membership in Heritage Hog Breeders Club you can post as many ads as you wish to sell your milk but, unfortunately, I can't help with the regulations... and no, you don't have to have heritage hogs to join. But you might find yourself with a few after you learn more about them...

I'm not trying to spam and I hope folks don't think that but it really is difficult for some folks to understand the value of Internet marketing and set up the tools needed. That's one of the reasons I started my own site because I've helped several friends get started but was frustrated with the lack of tools for beginners. My site runs on software that is fairly easy to use but I walk each new member through the steps needed, if they want me to, so they can learn just how easy it is. I've also become frustrated with a few of the registries and their complicated processes so I decided to include that service too, make sure my registry was easy to work with and, most important of all, get papers back quickly.

If our hogs are ever going to get the respect they deserve we have to stand out from the crowd and find the people who value our work and are willing to pay for it. People need to know the value of farm raised hogs and pork and it takes all of us helping each other to sustain small farms.

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Large Black and Gloucestershire Old Spot pigs
Homegrown Acres
Heritage Hog Breeders Club!


Last edited by HeritagePigs; 02/17/11 at 03:36 PM.
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  #9  
Old 02/17/11, 03:48 PM
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Thanks, Brian. Posting the links was very helpful to me. And I finally got around to listing at local harvest- it was the jump start I needed. Sometimes I get so busy with the day to day farming activities that I forget to stay current with all of those organizations that help link the farmers to the eaters.

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  #10  
Old 02/17/11, 06:48 PM
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You're welcome Linda. You can't be listed on too many websites! You never know where your customers will come from.

Brian

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  #11  
Old 02/17/11, 10:20 PM
HeritageSpotsAndFeathers
 
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Thanks Brian. I'm in the process of taking my hog business off the back burner now because I just had a baby in December and I'm staying home with her. So I'm really going to be working on marketing my eggs, pigs and pork. Your write up and links really help. Can't wait to hear back from you on the pedigrees.
Thanks again

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  #12  
Old 02/21/11, 10:27 AM
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We've looked at the costs incurred to get the Heritage Hog Breeders Club (HHBC) up and running and decided that registration fees should cover the initial and ongoing costs so we've decided to make membership free for small farmers. So now we invite the members of HT to expand their marketing efforts through the HHBC!

From the website:

The HHBC was created for breeders who need better tools to manage their herds and small farm businesses than are available elsewhere. If you are a typical breeder you need several things to sell your hogs:

● A blog to introduce yourself and your farm
● A classified advertisement website to place your ads
● A way to comunicate with your customers and other breeders
● An efficient registry to get registration papers for your hogs

The HHBC provides all this and more. Premium membership gives you your own blog, classified ads, forums and other messaging services, the ability to determine the inbreeding coefficient of your hogs and any you may wish to purchase.

Brian

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Large Black and Gloucestershire Old Spot pigs
Homegrown Acres
Heritage Hog Breeders Club!


Last edited by HeritagePigs; 02/21/11 at 01:25 PM. Reason: to better explain membership
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  #13  
Old 02/21/11, 12:29 PM
 
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Bryan, I am in no way asking this in a negative way so please don't take it that way. But why should I register already registered hogs with you? My hogs are registered American Guinea Hogs. What would I gain by registering them with the Heritage Hog Breeders Club. I guess what I'm asking is what is in it for you and for me? I am definitely interested and want to be able to market a few hogs a year but being a true small farmer money is an issue and I would like every dollar spent to be well invested.

Thanks for your time in answering this question!

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  #14  
Old 02/21/11, 12:44 PM
 
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OK Bryan I took the time to read some of your website and it's obvious! SHoulda read first!!! I joined up.

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  #15  
Old 02/21/11, 01:13 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by springvalley View Post
Wonderful advice Brian, now can you help me market my Raw milk that I can`t advertise that I sell off the farm. > Thanks Marc
Advertise you are selling raw milk of the farm for pigs, might get a few people to see it. NY you can't sell raw very easily so people sell it for "pet use" to CYA.
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  #16  
Old 02/23/11, 12:05 PM
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I've added a new article on HHBC that talks about how to get noticed on search engines such as Google:

http://heritagehogs.org/m/articles/v...r-blog-and-ads

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  #17  
Old 02/25/11, 09:14 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by olivehill View Post
Excellent advice, Brian.

I would add a number 6, if you don't mind...

6. You're Not Making a Sale; You're Establishing a Relationship! Treat your customers well. Take time to get to know them. And follow up on that relationship periodically. It only takes a second to ask Jane how she and her husband are doing on their kitchen remodel when she comes to pick up her next order of sausage on the farm and it makes her feel good! Do it! People who have been here countless times still like to go walk around and see everything when they're here. Say hi to the breeding animals they've come to know by name; watch the others who are being grown out eat, sleep, play; see what's in the garden this year, etc. But some are also too shy to ask. So offer! Offer to walk them around and answer questions, talk about operations, etc. Every time, not just the first. Establish a relationship and you'll have clients for life, not just once. And that makes all your work that much easier.
Excellent advice. Marketing is all about relationships. It's so easy to get busy and forget. Relationships are why people come back to do business with you. One of my favorite sayings: "Marketing gets customers, but relationship it what keeps them."

David
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  #18  
Old 02/26/11, 01:43 PM
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Originally Posted by HeritagePigs View Post
I've added a new article on HHBC that talks about how to get noticed on search engines such as Google:

http://heritagehogs.org/m/articles/v...r-blog-and-ads
Excellent Article Brian. I just got some time to read it. Having a website is only the beginning. Then you have to get it found. Good tips for folks who want to up their traffic quickly. Spent a little time on your site today. I had Old Spots for a while and the registry was a nightmare.

David
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  #19  
Old 02/26/11, 01:50 PM
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Blake,

I started out telling friends and family. Just be certain you price them so you can make a profit. As soon you start spreading the word folks want to know price, how much meat they will get, when they will ready, who does the butchering etc. if you can answer these questions it will go a long way towards selling them. I would require a down payment that way you have more than just somebodies word they will buy one.

You may have to go through a few people until you find ones who will take you up on your offer. But only having a few it shouldn't be too hard.

David

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Old 02/26/11, 03:41 PM
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"I had Old Spots for a while and the registry was a nightmare."

Thanks, David. I've tried hard to make it easy to register hogs and litters with the HHBC. Several folks are doing that now and all seem pleased. Of course, I'm open to suggestions.

As to the ways to get your site noticed I've chosen the software for the site specifically because it is search engine friendly. It's received more than 3000 page views in the last week and a half with an average of people spending five minutes on the site so that's pretty good. I'm also helping folks set up their blogs an ads with links and keywords that will get them noticed. When I start seeing a lot of piglets get sold through the site then I know I have done what I planned.

Brian

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  #21  
Old 02/28/11, 05:49 PM
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What is a reasonable price per pound live weight for a hog?

I went to te auction 2 weeks ago and a 400 lb gilt went for $0.40 per pound.

Will a younger hog bring in more per pound?

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  #22  
Old 02/28/11, 06:22 PM
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Price? It really depends on what you're buying. Is it fed antibiotics and other junk? Or was it pasture raised and fed a clean diet? Was it raised outdoors or in a pen? What are your values? What do you want?

Size? Yes, generally the market is aiming for about 250 lbs live weight.

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Old 02/28/11, 06:40 PM
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It also depends on the target market, the farmer's marketing and customer service skills as well as the quality of the finished product -- as Walter said, how it was reared, etc.

One thing you need to keep in mind at all times is your costs. You don't help anyone by undercutting the market and selling yourself upside down. The second a pig takes its first breath it has an associated cost. You should know off the top of your head what that cost is on your farm. From there it consumes feed, water, bedding, requires fences and facilities to be upkept, has to be marketed and uses your time and labor to be grown out. All have a cost. Add them up. And make sure you pay yourself for your time. Now, research average cost at market in your region. If your costs of bringing hogs to market is above the average going price you have a problem. Either you have to cut costs, or set yourself and your product apart as being worth the extra cost. I suggest both. Make sure you're running as efficiently as possible for your setup without compromising quality of care and then set yourself apart.

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  #24  
Old 03/01/11, 09:43 AM
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In order to get a price above commodity, you have to position your product some way that differentiates you from commodity. Ask yourself "what makes my pigs different from other farmers?" Without being able to communicate this to potential customers you're destined for the commodity market. In marketing it's called your Unique Selling Proposition or U.S.P.

Even with a "heritage" pigs ,as far as breeding stock or feeders, if you don't have a USP sooner or later you will find yourself competing with other breeders. As they become more available the consumer has more choices and prices....always build value and they will ask YOU how to purchase.

I raise Tamworth pigs and they are much more available now than when I started. So when I have a person I'm talking to I need to build value and my USP or they may just buy on price and I'm not the cheapest...so I'd lose the sale.

David
www.sellfarmproducts.com/blog

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Old 03/01/11, 09:46 AM
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Originally Posted by HeritagePigs View Post
"I had Old Spots for a while and the registry was a nightmare."

Thanks, David. I've tried hard to make it easy to register hogs and litters with the HHBC. Several folks are doing that now and all seem pleased. Of course, I'm open to suggestions.

As to the ways to get your site noticed I've chosen the software for the site specifically because it is search engine friendly. It's received more than 3000 page views in the last week and a half with an average of people spending five minutes on the site so that's pretty good. I'm also helping folks set up their blogs an ads with links and keywords that will get them noticed. When I start seeing a lot of piglets get sold through the site then I know I have done what I planned.

Brian
Brian,

Don't put too much on yourself! Your job is to get them exposed through your website. The farmer has to sell them! LOL

David
www.sellfarmproducts.com/blog
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  #26  
Old 03/01/11, 10:48 AM
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True, but a little help can not hurt...

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