Thursday, August 18, 2011

Cost of raising your own pig, 2012 edition

I update this every year to keep everyone current on the costs of raising your own pig.  You'll find last years version here

Question from email: "I'm interested in raising my own pig to eat. What will it cost me?"

For pigs, the cost of raising is pig is the cost of the newly weaned pig + the cost of the feed to bring the pig to market weight + the cost of the pen to keep it + the cost of the labor.   I'm going to ignore the cost of your pen and land, and talk about just the money you'll need to spend to feed the pig to market weight. 

In western Washington, where I farm, a weaner pig will cost you $100.  This is up $15 from last year, and it's a reflection of low supply and high demand.  Some folks are paying $125 in the spring for a weaner. 

 It will take between 600 and 800lbs of feed to get that pig to market weight at $400/ton (July 2011 price). Using the higher weight, that's $160 in feed, giving you a hard-cost (piglet + feed) of $260.  This is up substantially since 2010, when feed was $290/ton. 

Having someone come to your farm and kill the pig will cost $55, and for that price they will shoot the pig, skin it, gut it and split it down the backbone. For an additional $0.55/lb they'll cut it into your pork chops and roasts and so on.   Butcher costs haven't changed since 2010. 

Adding it all up, you'll pay $260 for the pig and feed, $55 for the kill, and $110 for the cut-and-wrap, for a total of $425. This will yield approximately 150lbs of meat, for a cost per lb of $2.83, up $0.40/lb from last years number, with the majority of that increase due to higher feed and piglet costs.


A Michigander Mountain Boy said...

Interesting. I like the breakdown of costs. Thank you.

Here is question....with some preamble....

I raise, for food, sheep, cows, chickens, and ducks. I have never raised a pig. It's been on the list, but just haven't done it yet. This year, I bought a pig from a local farmer. I am in Michigan and I paid $1.10/lb hanging weight +$238 for butcher costs. My total bill was $499. I got 197 lbs back from the butcher. Based on what I paid and what your costs are, I am looking at a break even situation.

On all of the livestock that I raise, I save 50% cost when I raise my food versus buy it. This make sense once I calculate the cost of labor and such. However, I am not seeing this with the pork.

So my questions are A) with costs at break even, why do it? And B) did I pay a clearance price on my freezer pig due to the severe drought in the Midwest? Meaning, should the price, in a normal year, have been around $3/lb?

Bruce King said...

Many old-style small hog farms are vertically integrated; the farmer will raise and process their own feed, and raise their own pigs, and that saves quite a bit of money, because each step along the way has some profit for that middleman. By vertically orienting their farm they're not paying the farrowing barn their profit margin, and they're not paying the feed mill.

That's assuming that the farm is feeding its pigs a prepared feed. If they have some other source of feed, cannery waste, for instance, or dairy waste -- cheese and whey that didn't make it to the consumer -- that can reduce their cost of production quite a bit, too. The #1 cost in raising pigs is usually the feed, and if you can get that down you can do very well.

The third thing that happened this fall is that quite a few farms dumped their young female pigs into the meat market, basically figuring that they'd reduce their herds because of the high feed costs. So you may have been the beneficiary of that sort of sale. A clearance sale, indeed!

I can't say what the price in your area is, it varies by region.

Regarding raising your own: I much prefer to raise my own pigs because I have complete control over the husbandry and diet of those pigs. I want to know that they're being fed good stuff, and that they are not getting antibiotics or stuff like paylean.

Never heard of paylean?

I just want a plain old wholesome pig that's had a happy, oinking, good life. That's why I raise my own.

Generally speaking I would expect do-it-yourself prices to be about break even, or even just a little more expensive, because you can't buy the quantities or split the labor as efficiently as a large farm.