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cost of raising a few pigs...who would buy for more than $2/lb

1503 Views 3 Replies 2 Participants Last post by  Up North
I have some really shallow rocky soil. There's about 1' of sandy loam over bedrock, and I'd like to get some feeder pigs each spring to till a section each year, so that I can remove some rocks and develop some pasture.
My plan was to get 3 feeder pigs in the spring, keep one for us and sell two. I was thinking those 3 pigs might prepare 5000 s.f., and that if it went well, I might try 6 pigs the next year or two, once I was sure I had a market for them. This is previously wooded area right now, just tree roots. Not much feed value probably.

My concern is that I'll be stuck buying feed by the bag and won't be able to keep their feed costs down far enough to cover the cost of the one we keep. I'm still trying to find a source for buying it by the ton, but since I'll only need about 1.5 tons for 3 pigs, I'm not sure it would be wise to do that anyway.

Secondly, I'm concerned I won't be able to sell them at a price that will cover my cost. We live in a rural community, but since we aren't from here and don't go to church here, I'm not sure how we'd get the word out.

My kids just got involved in our local 4H, and we were talking about raising pigs. Someone was saying how it costs $400 to raise a pig, and how expensive that was. I was thinking that was reasonable considering store bought pork is often over $3/lb, and of lesser quality. So, I'm concerned that if my one possible market, these people at 4h, think less than $3/lb is too costly, who am I going to sell to?

Recently I saw an ad in the paper for pastured pork...$200 for a 250 market pig. That seems really cheap to me. I guess if you have the pasture, and can raise your own feeder pigs, then you can afford to sell so low, but I'd never be able to compete with those prices raising only 3 pigs. At the Arkansas Eat Wild website, where farms advertise pastured meat, I've seen $2/lb pastured beef, hanging weight.
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Previously wooded area will provide lots of food. Roots, nuts, seeds, weeds, insect life in the soil. Prior to the colonization of North America, the hogs of Europe flourished by gleaning their food from the forest floors.

If you put 100 hogs on one acre they will kill all the trees and it will be a moonscape. If you put 3 hogs on 3 acres they will kill only the brush and weeds and leave large trees to flourish as the trees will no longer compete for water and soil nutrients being used up by the brush and weeds.

I am not telling you to abstain from feeding them some grain daily, as to not do so would greatly slow the growth and development of the modern hogs we have today.
About the feed: IMO it would be unwise to purchase the entire 1.5 tons of feed and then feed out hogs on that one batch. Feedgrains, much like coffee, immediately begin to lose their freshness and nutrient value once they are ground. You would do better to break it up into batches, bring your bags or barrels to elevator and still get bulk pricing.

The pigs could do fine moving through areas where you have not cleared the trees as well. I do believe you could call it pastured pork if they can run about gathering natural vegetation, trees present or not.

My experience has been that butcher hogs raised in the manner you propose
are like the movie "The Field of Dream" ... "If you build it they will come"
The buyers will find you.

The hard facts that lots of folks don't want hog chores in the winter months could be used to your advantage. Seasonal lower price to purchase the feeder pigs. Higher rate of gain in the cool months of winter versus the heat of summer(at your latitude).
If you have natural woodlots, you could initiate production yet this fall!

Good luck. Pigs are fun :D
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