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Discussion Starter #1
I have read that you need to feed a pig a certain amount in pounds of grain to get them to butcher weight. Also that if you do grain free grazing them it will just take longer. Can you raise a pig during the fall and winter without grain or with very little grain? I'm not sure how much they will need to eat. It is okay that they grow slower, we are in no hurry for that, but we don't want to be cruel and keep them just barely alive without/or with little grain? We have a couple of pastures that are stockpiled (?) (haven't been grazed on for awhile so might have food they could eat on that we could rotate them around in) and one nice pasture and could also move them around over our large garden so they could till it up and graze on all the things left in it. We also generate quite a bit of kitchen scraps and milk wastes...I would estimate an ice cream tub of scraps could be counted on daily and a gallon of milk products a day. Would that be enough for them all together?? Would they need grain also? THank you!
 

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Yes, it is very doable, but if you're just starting out I would suggest doing a commercial feed the first year as you have many things to learn. We raise pigs without any commercial feed corn/soy / grain. The vast majority of their diet is pasture plus some dairy (~7%) and other things as available (see http://SugarMtnFarm.com/pigs and follow the feed links) but it takes good genetics, good pastures and good management skills. Ease into it. Also read the sticky threads at the top which talk a lot about this sort of thing.

Please fill in your location information which makes it easier to answer questions. At the very least your zone. See this thread:

http://www.homesteadingtoday.com/livestock-forums/pigs/505485-please-fill-location-info.html

Cheers,

-Walter
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Thank you for your reply, Walter. We have enjoyed perusing around your site. We live in SW Missouri on 30 acres, half of it wooded but not fenced. We raised 2 pigs last winter and butchered them with a friend helping us and showing us how in May when they were 260 lb. and 280 lb. I'm not sure that we learned a lot, but I tend to be a bit dense about that. If I can't put it into words it doesn't seem to count, I guess. I mean, I'm sure we did, we had to have. But I'm not sure how to apply what we would've learned to caring for new pigs that we would do differently. The last 2 pigs we fed all our kitchen scraps, plate scrapings, ruined creations that were deemed inedible (I have child chefs in training ;) ) cheese making wastes, old milk, skimmed milk, etc etc. And we fed them grain every day, but we didn't keep track of how much, exactly. I assigned the pig chores to my 13yods and he kept an eye on how much they would eat and added to it adjusting it as the days went by. We made a 16' x 16' pen for them out of hog panels and moved them around. It worked okay until they were bigger then they broke out and we just let them roam in the pasture they were in. They could've gotten out if it if they tried, but they didn't. That was the last month or so.

What would we do differently? Mainly, how would I know that they weren't getting enough from what grazing was available with scraps and milk wastes? Would they be trying to escape as my first sign?
 

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They grew, the meat was good, life is good. Keep tweaking with every round. Rinse and repeat. As to 'are they getting enough' one thing is you'll learn to have an eye for their condition. Are they filling out, do they look healthy, are the overly jowly, etc. Comes with experience. Keep doing.

-Walter
 

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Sounds you the last two did good. Just keep the feed going to them. I would feed them at least a couple pounds of 14 percent comm. feed for each pig. Depends on how much scraps and milk they get. When they get over 50 lbs. you may have to feed them more comm. feed. Keep an i on how their weight is. If they start getting a bit slim double there feed. Did you treat them for worms last time ?
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Yes, we wormed them. The first bag of feed we bought had wormer in it but that is all we did. I just hate the thought of buying a pig for $75 and putting about $160 worth of feed into it and then the selling price is $200 or less around here. That just seems so wrong. I was trying to figure a way that we could raise them, even if it was slow, and then if we needed money sell them. But I don't like the idea of breaking even or worse yet, losing money. I saw some selling on cl for $125. What is wrong with the hog market?? That's mostly why we want to limit grain at this point. I *think* I could tell about condition. I'm bad about noticing it on people even, lol, takes quite a bit for me to notice.

THanks for all the thoughts!
 

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Yes, we wormed them. The first bag of feed we bought had wormer in it but that is all we did. I just hate the thought of buying a pig for $75 and putting about $160 worth of feed into it and then the selling price is $200 or less around here. That just seems so wrong. I was trying to figure a way that we could raise them, even if it was slow, and then if we needed money sell them. But I don't like the idea of breaking even or worse yet, losing money. I saw some selling on cl for $125. What is wrong with the hog market?? That's mostly why we want to limit grain at this point. I *think* I could tell about condition. I'm bad about noticing it on people even, lol, takes quite a bit for me to notice.

THanks for all the thoughts!
I raise pigs for healthy meat. It cost more to raise a hog with pasture and good healthy grain etc. then to buy a fat butcher hog at an auction or maybe off crags list. I have seen fat factory hogs sell for 50-75 cents a pound at auction. If you like that kind of pig buy one at an auction or else where and save yourself a bunch of money and also the trouble of raising a butcher hog. What if you raised a fat hog and had a 200 bucks in the pig and it went belly up. That's the chance you take when raising a good chemical free pig that's not full of who knows what.
 

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I don't get it. How are they raising the pigs/what are they growing them on that they can sell them so cheaply and still make a profit?

If I wanted to grow a hog to be a money investment, either for family meat or for cash in the event we need money more than we need meat, where do you advertise/how do you reach people looking for safe and good meat?
 

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Might not want to take a $125 price too seriously. Those low prices might be people dumping pigs they can't take care of. I've seen that plenty of times. That doesn't reflect actual market value. Don't try and compete with the low balls.

-Walter
 

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I don't get it. How are they raising the pigs/what are they growing them on that they can sell them so cheaply and still make a profit?

If I wanted to grow a hog to be a money investment, either for family meat or for cash in the event we need money more than we need meat, where do you advertise/how do you reach people looking for safe and good meat?
I have put a few ads in local papers and a few ads on Cragslist. I let everybody know i have hogs for sale. I also sell roaster pigs. I have a sign on my truck. Hereford pigs for sale. I have signs posted at 4 butcher shops. I have a 4 mos. waiting list for butcher hogs and also a waiting list for breeding stock. Word gets around people who like farm raised pork know who to call.

Big pig operators raise thousands of pigs. They don't have to make a big profit on each pig to stay in business. I could go on about the farm factories but that does not help put any bucks in my pocket. :)
 

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Yes, we wormed them. The first bag of feed we bought had wormer in it but that is all we did. I just hate the thought of buying a pig for $75 and putting about $160 worth of feed into it and then the selling price is $200 or less around here. That just seems so wrong. I was trying to figure a way that we could raise them, even if it was slow, and then if we needed money sell them. But I don't like the idea of breaking even or worse yet, losing money. I saw some selling on cl for $125. What is wrong with the hog market?? That's mostly why we want to limit grain at this point. I *think* I could tell about condition. I'm bad about noticing it on people even, lol, takes quite a bit for me to notice.

THanks for all the thoughts!
I don't know where in SWMO you are but you ought to be able to get quite a bit more then that. I'm getting quite a bit more then that and I'm just selling locally to people that want homegrown pork, not a speciality market.

To date I've done 90% of my marketing on Facebook, cheep, easy, and I don't have to deal with all the crazies in craigslist.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
How do you market on facebook? I am on, but don't do much. Who do you market to?? Are they your "friends" or is it a group?
 

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I rarely post on FB either but I do have a lot of friends. I will just make a post on my page that we have feeders or halves and wholes for sale. I'm getting 1.75lb hanging weight so not high $ but halves and wholes will generally be spoken for in a very short time. It's not the high $ market that I'm aiming for, but it allows me to make money while I'm positioning myself for that market.

I need to make a page for our pork opperation but haven't. Maybe a winter project.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
That is all good info to know. We don't desire to become pig producers. We mostly moved to the country to make our own safe food for our family and enjoy the work and satisfaction together but since becoming unemployed we were shocked into needing to do things to generate income to help stay afloat. We liked doing the pigs last time and thought it might be something we could do on a small scale to bring in extra but were very discouraged by the prices we saw. What exactly is hanging weight? We killed our pigs and then hung them up with a scale...was that the hanging weight? And what percent of that ends up in the freezer? Thank you again!
 

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That is all good info to know. We don't desire to become pig producers. We mostly moved to the country to make our own safe food for our family and enjoy the work and satisfaction together but since becoming unemployed we were shocked into needing to do things to generate income to help stay afloat. We liked doing the pigs last time and thought it might be something we could do on a small scale to bring in extra but were very discouraged by the prices we saw. What exactly is hanging weight? We killed our pigs and then hung them up with a scale...was that the hanging weight? And what percent of that ends up in the freezer? Thank you again!

http://www.oda.state.ok.us/food/fs-hogweight.pdf

Link above says a bit about hanging weigh.
 
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