Total noob question about the logistics of HOW you sell 1/2 or 1/4 hogs

Discussion in 'Pigs' started by pigsinwigs, Feb 10, 2018.

  1. pigsinwigs

    pigsinwigs Member

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    Hi All

    Before I get going, let me say off the bat that this is a dumb question by a total noob. Please bear in mind. I tried the search function to find an answer but a search is only as good as the keywords put in, and I'm not sure I even know how to express it.

    Basically, while we hope to someday be producing enough woodland-raised pork to justify taking it to a USDA facility so we can sell retail, right now we have only a handful of pigs and all the processors within a 90-minute drive are custom -- i.e., the only way to sell it is sell the live animal to someone, and they have to place the order with the processor, select the cuts, etc.

    So if that's the case -- how do you sell just a portion of a pig? I understand that multiple people may own parts of the live pig. And each person will need to do their own cut sheet. But, does the farmer coordinate these and haul the animal to the processor? I'm assuming so, since we can't expect the customer to haul half a pig or whatever (although this would presumable save the kill fee, lol). Is the farmer, in general, scheduling the arrival of the pig with the individual customer submitting their own cut sheet? Can the farmer receive the cut sheet for each customer and submit all the info at the same time? I get the impression from my reading that this would not be legal, but if it's not then I just have no idea how people organize it.

    I guess I'm just looking for a good description of how people are managing this process when a hog has two or three or maybe even four different owners. Either links or your own words. I realize that laws may vary between states, so that's another layer complexity, but hopefully there are commonalities that apply to all of us in US. (I am in Michigan for what it's worth.)

    Thanks and hopefully someday I'm making a net contribution to our current knowledge.
     
  2. mmoetc

    mmoetc Well-Known Member

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    Our processors had their own cut sheets. We would tell our customers ( we sold half and whole) when the hog would be delivered to the processor and how to contact them. We would have extra copies of the cut sheet to give them and would often walk first timers through the process so they’d know what to expect. Customers would pay us for the pig based on hanging weight. Some customers preferred to pick up their pork directly from the processor and would settle with the processor for butchering fees at that time. Some customers we would deliver to and would add the processing fees and any delivery charge to their bill and pay the processor ourselves.

    Go talk to the local processors you’re thinking about using and see how they’d like to do things.

    Good luck.
     
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  3. highlands

    highlands Walter Jeffries Supporter

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    Half pig is easy, you get two people (or groups) and each gets the cuts from half. Tongue and heart are the only things that are unique.

    For quarter pigs we do a representative sample of cuts but not tenderloin, heart, tongue as those don't split well that way.

    Generally people care more about how much meat they're getting, not that it is exactly a half or a quarter.

    We provide the cut sheet to our customers, transcribe it to the week's total cut sheet for the butcher, deliver the pigs and overall cut sheet to the slaughterhouse and then deliver the cuts to our customer. That customer interaction is valuable - don't have them interacting with the butcher. This was how we did it before we had our own on-farm butcher shop. Now we do the processing but still use essentially the same cut sheet.

    You can see our cut sheet here: http://SugarMtnFarm.com/lit It is a lot more comprehensive than most butcher's cut sheets because I like having the customer have information about what to expect and that covers many of the questions about yield and such that I have gotten over the years.

    -Walter
     
  4. haypoint

    haypoint Unpaid, Volunteer Devil's Advocate Supporter

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    If you are in SE Michigan, you are closer than 90 minutes from a USDA facility, but that's not your question.
    Like many things there are various ways to do this. Keep in mind that this is a sort of get around the State regulations. If your customers are unfamiliar with a cut sheet, you may need to step in and make these picks
    When pigs are ready to market, any delays are costly to you and the customers. After 240 to 300 pounds, hogs add wasteful amounts of fat. So butchering on time saves feed and makes a better value for your customers. With that I mind, you need to lock in your sales with a down payment months ahead of time to avoid being stuck with excess pork.
    You can do the killing and skinning yourself, then haul to the butcher or haul live hogs to the butcher.
    I think you can have the owners of a whole or half a hog can call the butcher for their cut selections. But if you are selling 1/4, just have the butcher cut the hog the same way and divvy the hog into four equal size boxes.
    I normally sell by hanging weight, using the butcher's scales. But you can set a price based on live weight, too.
    Each hog has two hind hams and two picnics. For four owners, each leg can be split. Not sure how I'd deal with three owners.
    Raising livestock or vegetables is often easier than marketing it. Lock in your sales well in advance with a sizeable down payment.
     
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  5. Terri

    Terri Singletree & Weight Loss & Permaculture Moderator Staff Member Supporter

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    2 years ago a person was selling a small steer by the half. Basically, it had been commercially butchered and so I got half the packages. It was very simple
     
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  6. haypoint

    haypoint Unpaid, Volunteer Devil's Advocate Supporter

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    In Michigan, you would have been required to share ownership of that steer prior to butcher, to be legal. If the facility has a USDA inspector on site, then it can be sold as meat. Two different things.
    The State wants to protect the consumer's food, including meat. but stays out of the way if you want to butcher your own animal. Meat sales through a USDA inspected facility but you can butcher your own animal in the driveway, it that suits you.
     
  7. pigsinwigs

    pigsinwigs Member

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    You are not wrong! But unfortunately the facilities that are closer are not getting great reviews, and I'm not going to raise a fancy mangalitsa for 12+ months only to have the meat compromised by super stressful conditions. And I do love those little stinkers, so I'm willing to drive an extra hour if it takes them someplace with a stellar reputation for quality and welfare.

    (Also with respect to the mangalitsa -- the one in question is an intact male we got when thinking of breeding, but I just don't like his temperament so we're planning to get him off to butcher instead. Planning to do it young, around 180 lbs live weight, to reduce chance of taint. It's still a risk but one we are willing to take -- will refund deposits if he comes back with taint. We are fortunate to live a couple of miles from a Hungarian cultural center where they periodically make sausages for consumption by members, so we have potential interested buyers.}

    In this case, is the argument for the workaround that the buyer owns the pig and then I just happen to be killing it for them? I'm probably not in a position to skin or scrape, but I would much prefer for them to die on the farm with their snouts buried in their favorite food.

    I have found a couple mobile butchers here in MI, but the closest one is over 2 hours away and I figured that would be outside their service area (but should definitely double check).

    Thanks for your comments!
     
  8. highlands

    highlands Walter Jeffries Supporter

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    Do a biopsy before you take him to slaughter to test for taint in the back fat. See: http://SugarMtnFarm.com/taint for how I do this. It is pretty simple - you just need to be able to detect the taint smell or have someone who can. About 25% of the human population can't.

    -Walter
     
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  9. pigsinwigs

    pigsinwigs Member

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    Thanks Walter. I already have the biopsy tools!

    I have a question about issue of figuring out whether one can detect androstenone-related taint (I'm going to assume I'm good to go on skatole taint, based on poop smelling like poop to me.) Apparently, truffles produce androstenone -- it is presumed that this attracts the animals that consume and subsequently disperse spores, and explains in part why female pigs make such good truffle hunters. The androstenone components are also thought to play a big role in the musky scent of truffles, while variability in androstenone sensitivity may account for while some people don't get the big deal about truffles, and why some other people think truffles are gross.

    http://www.1-800-caviar.com/truffle-lovers.html
    http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20151125-why-do-truffles-taste-so-weird

    I can detect the unique flavor of truffles in truffle salt and truffle oil, so I'm hoping that I'm androstenone sensitive enough to detect taint. What I'm wondering if you've met with and spoken to people who are not detectors -- are they able to smell truffles? Might this be a possible proxy for judging if you can detect boar taint?

    My other option is to buy some of this pheromone perfume, but I don't much feel like blowing $100 on such nonsense! (Although the one comment about it smelling of BO suggests that it really may have androstenone in it, lol!)

    http://love-scent.com/androstenone-...MIr4j_1_ug2QIVlySBCh36IAuyEAAYASAAEgK4jvD_BwE
     
  10. cooper101

    cooper101 Well-Known Member

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    I sell by the half and whole in Michigan. I don't take deposits. I deal with about 80-85 unique buyers per year and have had only one buyer ever back out and leave me with pork. I usually have some list churn near butcher days, but always have had a waiting list or people who want more than their original order. Your mileage may vary.

    One thing I've found is that most processors won't do quarters of hogs. They don't want to hassle with how to split everything up fairly. I recommend that quarter buyers find a friend. I've also put together two quarter buyers, given them each other's phone numbers and told them to work it out. You can do the cut sheets among your buyers but then you have the hassle of figuring out how to divvy up 2 hams among 3 or 4 people, etc. Or, you can just do standard cuts and give everyone their share. My experience is that processors don't even like splitting it up, so you would have get involved with pick up and/or delivery. I've done that with friends and co-workers, but it gets to be a pain. Stick to halves and let the processor do it. That's their expertise.

    We slaughter on site and carcasses are hauled to the processor by my mobile slaughter guy. All cutting related communication is between the buyer and the processor. I don't get involved other than for questions. Buyers pay all kill/processing fees and for the pig when they pick up the meat. Processor sends me the funds. All this requires you work with a top-notch processor. Mine is excellent and all this works out great. A bad processor will ruin you. I agree that the processor is your best resource. They will know what they can and are willing to do and ways to go about what you're wanting to do. Again, a bad one will ruin you. A good one will actually reinforce your brand. Mine does.
     
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  11. highlands

    highlands Walter Jeffries Supporter

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    About 25% of the population can't detect it. So if you have a significant sample set and smell a group of guys armpits you should be able to weed out who can and who can't smell it. It smells a bit like male gym body odor.

    Alternatively, smell live boars in rut. They're producing the chemical then in their urine and breath (foam). This does not mean they have tainty meat (actually fat) but the scent is about universal there so that is an opportunity to test yourself and others. It is distinctive.

    They also sell it in spray cans, Boar-in-a-Can, for spraying sows to get them to peak heat for AI. Probably cheap.

    I think that's a pretty safe assumption... :)

    Very interesting! I didn't know that.

    My wife can't detect it. My sons and I can. I'm not sure about my daughter.

    Cheers,

    -Walter
     
  12. highlands

    highlands Walter Jeffries Supporter

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    It is an issue as well as the simple ordering overhead. What I do is offer a huge discount for people to buy a whole hog and split it up themselves to halves or quarters or whatever. I point this out clearly and people then act as my sales reps :) finding friends to take the other portions and all submitting the order as one cut sheet.
     
  13. pigsinwigs

    pigsinwigs Member

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    Walter, that boar-in-a-can sounds like just the thing! Do you happen to know if your wife can smell truffle?
     
  14. highlands

    highlands Walter Jeffries Supporter

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    We've never had truffles so I'm not sure. They're something I've only read about - seem outrageously priced. :)
     
  15. cooper101

    cooper101 Well-Known Member

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    How do you know they're actually splitting it up and not just getting a discount and keeping the whole?
     
  16. Gravytrain

    Gravytrain Well-Known Member

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    Who cares, as long as they buy a whole hog? At that point, it's their business whether they are buying it all for themselves or splitting it with 17 different friends and family. I do the same thing and it's worth giving the discount not to have to work with multiple people for a single pig. It works for the buyer too because they can order as much or as little as they like as long as they have the people in with them to divide the cost.
     
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  17. highlands

    highlands Walter Jeffries Supporter

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    More power to them if they want to buy the whole pig and get that discount. I price based on the whole pig at one price, higher by the half, still higher by the quarter and highest as retail cuts. It's a bulk buying discount essentially. See:

    http://SugarMtnFarm.com/lit

    -Walter
     
  18. krackin

    krackin Well-Known Member

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    I deliver to processors with their specific cut sheets filled to customer specs. I notate the hog to any given sheet when needed. That being a customer needing a smaller pig, longer pig, large pig, etc. I only do halves and wholes.

    Going forward I may just stay with my current half customers and go whole only for new customers. That being said, I will still do cut sheet halves for 2 customers buying 1 hog and splitting it between them per their own agreement.

    I'd say anyone wanting 1/4 is a retail cut customer. That is too much handling for you to try to work out. It takes time handling, potential package damage, disgruntles. etc.
     
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