Question about raising for profit.

Discussion in 'Pigs' started by hunter92, Sep 12, 2005.

  1. hunter92

    hunter92 Active Member

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    I am planning/considering raising a pigs on a small scale for friends, family, and putting an ad in the paper. Would I be better off if I bought weiners and raised them or should I buy a boar and a sow and breed ? Another question is do any of you sell your meat by the pound or do you sell by a flat rate per side ? Or how do you sell it ? Just looking for opinions. Thanks
    hunter92
     
  2. ihedrick

    ihedrick Can't stop thinkin'

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    I am now raising hogs for others. I buy the weiners as I don't have to worry about mortality rates, castration, etc and is well worth $50 each to get weiners. I sell them on the hoof so that I don't have to worry about wieght of the hog at butchering. I offer to take the hog to the local butcher or the person can come get their hog when its ready. Most prefer to let me haul it off and they go to the butcher to pay butcher fees and pick up their meat. I usually collect payment when I give out the custom butchering form to those who wanted to get a hog. You can make money and lose it if you're not careful. I know I'll make money this go round as I have been given lots of vegis for them to eat all summer and they didn't eat alot of grain. But now that stuff is getting low I have to start back with the grain again.
    If you keep your own boar and sow you'll be faced with feeding that boar for a mere "whoopie" with your sow/s. Not totall worth it if ya ask me...just look at the size of a boar and you know it eats alot. Now if you have lots of sows it may be worth it; but if you just plan on few hogs then just get the weiners. With breeding, you'll have concerns with housing for farrowing, castration, feed increase with gestation, etc.
    As far as pricing; you'll have to know your total cost to get the hogs to size. And if you'll include butchering costs or let the customer pay that. I let the customer buy the hog live so that way it is their hog at the butcher and no problems with me "selling" meats...don't know what kind of red tape there is, but I don't want to get into that mess...so I just sell them alive and drive them to the butcher for the new owners. I have sold a half hog and ended up with the other half. If you have enough freexer space selling half is okay or if you find someone to buy the other half. Otherwise be prepared to lose a sale of half or the person is willing to buy it whole.
    I keep thinking I'll get a boar and couple sows until I see my supplier's boar and think of any profit going out the door!
     

  3. Siryet

    Siryet In Remembrance

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    We also sell to others locally, in fact the butcher buys ours.
    We but wieners cause it is easier and cheaper for us as we are small scale
    and our supplier guarantees their wieners for 30 days against anything.

    We did have a sick Weiner this year and our supplier gave us all the medicine we needed to cure him and he finally weighed out at 291 at 6 mths. We also had one die and they replaced him free with no questions asked.

    Plus the wieners are castrated, iron shots, teeth clipped and tail docked when we get them.

    We order our feed in bulk 1000bs at a time so our cost are lower than if we bought 50lb sacks. We store it in 55gal plastic clean drums.

    Good luck and enjoy them, hogs can be fun.
     
  4. John Schneider

    John Schneider Well-Known Member

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    I suppose that there are some other questions that need to be answered. Like whether or not you are going to raise them on pasture or in a barn? With pasturing, your costs will be lower, but it will probably take longer to get to weight. There is also a cost in keeping a pasture for hogs that doesn't always enter the equation...fencing etc. We are going to keep some breeding sows year round as there simply aren't many hogs that are capable of gaining on pasture around here. Supposedly, barn genetics will not do well on a pasture's high fiber forage and supplemental grain. I don't want to keep a boar because we won't have many sows, so I am looking into AI for farrowing once a year. We have an abundance of pasture and land that needs to be cleared that is already fenced...hogs are great at that sort of thing. The money that I save on gas for the tractor or paying a dozer to clear the land will hopefully pay for the sows' year round keeping.
     
  5. highlands

    highlands Well-Known Member

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    We raise Yorkshire pigs on pasture which we sell as whole hogs, half hogs (a side), bred gilts (new), and piglets. We raise them on pasture, the breed on pasture and farrow on pasture. During the coldest months here in Vermont we bring them into garden corrals where they have access to an open shed for shelter and lots of hay - but they still often prefer to sleep out under the sky. Here are some of the things we've learned.

    It takes about six months to raise up the pig to butchering weight. Faster if you grain feed it, slower if you completely pasture it. Often we are able to use excess milk and cheese which the pigs love and on it grow great guns. The milk fed pigs fat and meat has a sweater taste. I've noticed it and our customers have mentioned it.

    For hogs the customer pays us an initial deposit for the animal when they make the reserve. Most customers pay in monthly installments as the pigs grow. Sort of like a CSA setup. By the time the animal is ready to go to the butcher the customer has finished paying. Many people like making small monthly payments rather than one huge payment. A few people just send a check for the whole thing. Either way works.

    Some people like to come out and see the pigs. Other people can't stand the idea of looking their food in the eye. We accommodate both types of people. Different strokes for different folks. I make no judgments.

    I aim for about 225 lbs of live weight. Much bigger and people find it is too much to put in their freezer all at once. Smaller starts making it cost a lot more per pound since the slaughter fee is fixed along with several other costs. A lot bigger isn't economical as the pigs start taking more and more feed to gain after that weight. An exception is a restaurant which will take as many as we can produce pastured, at a wholesale price, but wants them to be 250 lbs live weight at slaughter time.

    The whole pigs and half pigs we deliver to the butcher who does slaughter, cutting and wrapping. Delivery of the animal to the butcher is included in the price. The customer then picks up their boxes of meat from the butcher and pays the butcher for his services.

    If you are going to do a small number of hogs, say less than 40 a year, then it is probably not worth having your own sow. In that case I would suggest just buying weaner piglets. If demand is not too high you may be able to get a volume discount if you buy 10 or 20 at a time but this year demand was so high we did not offer any volume discounting on piglets. It will vary with location, season and the year. Dec, Jan, Feb are the slow months.

    If you are going to have sows then breed them twice a year. This will produce one set of piglets to sell in the spring when demand is highest and another set of piglets for you to raise as hogs in the fall when demand is lowest for piglets but good for meat. If you are going to have a sow you might as well have two or four - it is the same work. Each sow will wean 20 to 25 piglets a year so that is 40 to 100 piglets a year. Selling the extras is pretty easy.

    If you are going to have more than four sows then a boar might be economically worth it. If you have more than six sows then get a boar, especially if you are pasturing.

    Alternatively you can do AI or just borrow a boar from someone else. We did that for a while until we felt comfortable getting our own boar. We have been fortunate to always worked with very gentle boars but I have heard that some are aggressive. I have met one like that. They are...big.

    One way to get started is to buy bred gilts (young sows that have not yet farrowed) or find a mature sow that someone is getting rid of that is still producing but has no problems. I have seen mature sows selling for $1,800 to $2,000 in the classifieds on occasions, maybe twice a year. We sell bred gilts for $600.

    Gilts are ready to breed somewhere around seven to eight months. This is generally their second or third cycle. Breeding them too young can result in small litters and stress the mother. They are capable of breeding as early as five months in some cases. Let them cycle at least once and be sure they are of good weight before breeding them. Also don't breed them to too large a boar or he may crush them. Lastly, let them breed out on pasture, on dirt or rough floors so they can get traction. A sow, gilt or boar can get seriously injured on a slick floor in the heat of the moment.

    Don't count on any random gilt being fertile. The industry standard rate of fertility is around 75% for gilts. We have been lucky and ours have been a bit better than that at a fertility rate of 89% and a first litter size of 10.2 on average which is also high. But it can vary greatly, one of our young sows only produced 6 this summer on her first litter - and all males to boot.

    Unproven boars also have a failure rate too - some of them shoot blanks. This is more common in young, stressed or sick boars. I don't know what the industry percentage is but my experience is about 66% are fertile. Boars might start being able to breed as early as five months but aren't really prime until ten months to a year.

    We sell our pigs live by the animal or half animal. This has a legal implication. Check the laws in your state. I deliver the animals live to the butcher and they leave my responsibility and control at that point. This works because I can raise them to a specific size fairly easily. Many people sell by the hanging weight. That works too.

    We market our pigs mostly by 8.5"x11" posters with pull tabs we put up at farm & feed stores, general stores, community bulletin boards, etc. We also get some word of mouth sales. We have a web site (http://sugarmtnfarm.com/ and my blog at http://sugarmtnfarm.com/blog/) which is pretty basic. There is also a map on the web site which we can direct people to for how to get to the butcher and how to get to us. We have done ads in the local classified newspapers. That works but costs more and produces less results. Getting listed in various local directories about farming is good too although I have gotten very little business from them. Lastly, put your web site into your signature so people know to go visit your web site.

    All that said, your mileage may vary and you don't have to do it any particular way. If you would enjoy having a sow, being part of the birth process (or staying out of the way anyways!) then get a sow even if you are only planning on doing a few piglets a year. You can always sell the extras.

    Last comment. I get a fair number (3 times a week?) of people emailing me from far away places like Alaska, Arizona, etc asking for piglets. I don't think that is worth it. I looked into it just to figure it out but the cost to ship a piglet is about $300 and a _lot_ of trouble including several hours of my time. So I discourage this. Better to buy locally or within driving distance at least if at all possible. Air shipping pigs just isn't worth it in most cases. Also of interest is that 90% of the people asking about air shipping pigs are looking for pets. I think they see the small price ($65 compared with $500 for a potbelleid pig) and they think it will be a good deal. After one year of feed bill ($1,600) they may think otherwise. I explain that these pigs grow to 600 to 1,000 lbs or more and that they really should look at getting a potbellied pig, that these are farm pigs, meat pigs. They get big. They eat a lot. They might step on you or bite you and it is a big bite. That is not to say it won't work, occasionally someone really does have the acreage and desire to keep one as a pet. Watch out for this mythconception and make them aware of how big the pigs get.

    Cheers,

    -Walter
    SugarMtnFarm
    in Vermont
     
  6. hunter92

    hunter92 Active Member

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    Thank all you guys so much you have been very helpful. I am just going to do weaners and not going to breed my hogs. I am in Southwestern Idaho and weaners are in the paper from $30-50. I am planning on feeding them sour milk and corn because around here we have a lot of dairys. Do any of you have deals with grocery stores to buy their old food ?
    Thank again
    hunter92
     
  7. highlands

    highlands Well-Known Member

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    I've tried but they refuse claiming that they are afraid people will eat the veggie wastes and make a legal liability for them. So they throw it in the dumpster. A horrendous waste. Crying shame.

    We do get free milk and cheese from two different dairies. The pigs love it as do the poultry. The sheep even take some.
     
  8. okiefarmgirl

    okiefarmgirl Member

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    We are able to get all the vegtables we want from local grocers, you have to pick up the produce daily because of the health regulations so you have to be very responsible, this has greatly reduce our feed bill, and the pigs love it they get a wide variety of fruit and vegtables.

    We have found that the smaller grocery stores are the ones who do not mind us doing this most large chains refuse.

    Also bread outlets let you buy a truck load of bread and donuts for $10.00, although we don't do this often because don't think that great for the pigs,

    Hope this helps.
     
  9. .netDude

    .netDude Well-Known Member

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    nope, as Walter says, what a waste. No Mom and Pop shops around here, only the large super markets. They looked at me like I had 6 heads when I asked. Then started the legal mumbo jumbo. But the people I bought my pigs from (who, incidentally, go them from Walter) had a deal w/ their local, and fed the pigs almost exclusively bagged lettuce and old produce. So I guess it's hit or miss.
    -Greg
     
  10. ihedrick

    ihedrick Can't stop thinkin'

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    A side note about the vegis from the store and such...if you don't know the cource personally, you can have problems if you advertise your hogs as free from chemicals and such. You don't know what has been used to grow those vegis. I do get vegis from a local roadside seller, but I know their stuff and trust it.
    If ya want to see a really happy hog; give them pumpkins!
     
  11. GeorgiaberryM

    GeorgiaberryM Well-Known Member

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    How much do you all charge for your on the hoof pork?
     
  12. Siryet

    Siryet In Remembrance

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    70 cents lb walking around
     
  13. hunter92

    hunter92 Active Member

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    Siryet, have you tried selling them carcass weight ? Or do you make more money selling them live ? And how do you weigh them a live do you take them to a place or did you buy a scale ?
     
  14. highlands

    highlands Well-Known Member

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    This is something we struggle with too - choosing which way to sell the pigs. To date we have done by the animal. $350 per whole hog and $225 per half hog. The state meat inspector said I would make more money selling by hanging weight. Either way I can see it working and I see advantages and disadvantages to both. Most customers are very concerned about how much pork they are getting - specifically they don't want to get too much as they don't want to overload their freezer.

    Selling by the pound hanging weight is good in that supposively the customer knows what the cost per pound is. But the reality is there is always a significant amount of trim and customers could get a shock when they are expecting 150 lbs of meat cuts wrapped and end up getting 120 or 130 lbs instead after all the trim. The butcher weighs with the head on when he figures hanging weight and then he cuts the head off and that becomes part of the trim. Personally I don't like it that he does that - other butchers don't. The other nasty surprise someone could get with buying by the pound hanging weight is if the pig ends up weighing more than expected - the butchering and the meat price will both end up being higher. Lastly, the whole 'hanging weight' thing is confusing to must customers. What they really want to know is roughly how much meat will they get (so they can estimate freezer space and cost per pound) and how much will it cost them.

    Selling by the pig means the the customer knows ahead of time what the meat price is although not exactly what the per pound cost is. We try and give them an estimate of the pounds of cuts that can be expected. So far this is how we've done it and people have liked it. I wonder about doing hanging weight but probably won't change.
     
  15. warden1

    warden1 Well-Known Member

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    We have a deal with the local grocery store to get thier out of date milk for feeding our hogs, but they may just let us do that because my father was thier milkman for 28 years but it never hurts to ask. As far as vegetable scraps we take a barrel to a local restaraunt and they use it for the scraps and we pick it up once a week so you might try that. Just make sure they dont put any meat scraps in it.
     
  16. Siryet

    Siryet In Remembrance

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    we weigh them using a tape. the butcher will give you the live weight also