Thursday, August 5, 2010

How much does it cost to raise a pig: July, 2010

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.

In western Washington, where I farm, a weaner pig will cost you $85. It will take between 600 and 800lbs of feed to get that pig to market weight at $290/ton (July 2010 price). Using the higher weight, that's $116 in feed, giving you a hard-cost of $201.

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.

Adding it all up, you'll pay $201 for the pig and feed, $55 for the kill, and $110 for the cut-and-wrap, for a total of $366. This will yield approximately 150lbs of meat, for a cost per lb of $$2.44

I'm not calculating any labor in this and I'm ignoring the price of your pigpen.

People do this all the time. You know exactly what your pig was fed, you have the opportunity to get closer to your food, and you can reduce these costs by using food sources other than purchased feed (surplus bread, expired dairy, etc)


damae said...

Perfect timing, so where do I get pig feed for $290 a ton? That's $7.25 a bag and I don't know of any local feed stores that will sell it for that price for a 50lb bag. So market weight is roughly 200 lbs? Which means that only about 50 lbs of the live pig ends up being waste? Approximately how long does it take a pig to get to that 200 lbs? What might the pros and cons of buying a weaner pig in Sept, and raising it through the winter? Thanks

Bruce King said...

The conversion between live weight and hanging weight is 75%.

From hanging weight to finished cuts it's 75%

So if you start with a market-weight pig of 275lbs live weight, the hanging weight will be 206.25lbs, or roughly 100lbs a side. Each side will yield about 75lbs of cuts.

For the most economical pig, don't buy food in 50lb bags. Locate a feed mill near you and buy the feed in bulk -- 1,000lb bulk bags. a 1,000lb bag is equivalent to 20 50lb sacks, and will cost you $145 or so, a big savings vs bagged.

You'll need a pickup truck to get the feed, but they'll load it for you at the mill. When you get it home you can move it into your storage with your tractor, or if you don't have a tractor you can use a 5 gallon bucket and bucket the feed into your final storage spot. I like galvanized garbage cans out near the pigs (rat proof) or standard garbage cans that I don't use for garbage.

The weight that is lost between live and finished is the bones (particularly things like the skull and spine), the internal organs and digestive tract, and bits of fat or gristle trimmed off.

Emily said...

My girlfriend was paying twenty-two dollars per fifty pound bag of pig feed at our local feed store - not organic or anything. We found it at Walmart for ten dollars a bag. I don't know of anyone selling bulk pig chow in the state of Alaska...only straight barley or oats. And I've been asking around at the local butchers and such and haven't found anyone willing to come out and butcher our pig - bummer! So our pig will be costing a lot more than two fifty a pound and I so consider it well worth it, can't wait!

Bruce King said...

Emily, do they want you to bring the pig to their facility, or is there just no one to butcher your pig at all? What do other folks do in your area? The folks who sold you your pig might have suggestions, too.

damae said...

Thank you for clarifying all that for me. Since I'm in your back yard, what feed mill do you get this pig feed from?
So, if I bought two weaner pigs in early Sept., put them on pasture and kept food in front of them at all times, about how long would you estimate it would take to get them up to that 275 lbs you suggest? Like you I also have a source of produce to add to their diet.
Also, nice to know those bulk sacks are only 10000 (lol) lbs, I guess I can haul that in my s10, heheheh!
Thanks for the info!!

Bruce King said...

I buy feed mostly from Wolfkill feed in Stanwood, or Cargil out of Mt Vernon, on highway 20.
I'd say that 6 to months is a good estimate. You can easily fit a bulk bag into the back of a pickup and remove it with a tractor at your farm, or use a 5 gallon bucket. 1000lbs of feed takes about 15 minutes to unload with a bucket. buy an extra super sack (they have them at the mill) and just transfer from the truck to the sack on the ground.

Lee said...

Kind of an odd question, but have you ever ran across an estimate for the human-equivalent calories in a pound of standard pig ration? In other words, if you took a pound of pig feed, boiled it and ate it, how many calories would that be?

I always hear claims about "X calories of grain are required to produce Y calories of meat", and I was hoping to test those out. Barring exact numbers, I have thought of a couple different methods of estimating the values.

Bruce King said...

Most standard pig ration is a mix of corn and soybean meal. Corn is carbohydrates, soybean is protein. It's mixed with a little bit of fat so that the pellets stick together, and usually coated with something that the pigs find tasty, like molasses.

I think a good approximation of the calories is to figure out the calories in an 85/15% mix of corn/soybeans. The other stuff added is basically noise -- vitamins,minerals, a little bit of fat, a little bit of sugar.

...a little bit of fat. 2 gallons of vegetable oil per ton of feed, that sort of noise level. Not very much. Same with molasses.

Poultry efficiency is based on pounds of meat per pound of feed, and I'm guessing that on a pound for pound basis, poultry and pig feed are pretty close calorie-wise.

Sandy's Quilts said...

try looking for an independent feed mill. I use to go to a large mill, but the cost became to high. They were not grinding or mixing their own feed. Everything was shipped in. I found a small family owned mill that will mix what I want. At the feed mill I was paying almost $14 dollars for a bag of pig feed. The new place I pay only 8.17.

Doing a little research will help. Ask the farmers in your where they sell there corn.

Bruce King said...

The price of feed varies quite a bit based on where you're located. Most of the corn grown in western washington is chopped into silage and then fed to dairy cows. So the availability of dry corn for feed is pretty low. So most of the corn used to mix feed here is coming from hundres or thousands of miles away. Same with the soybeans.

at $8.xx a bag, you're paying $320 a ton. at 14.xx a ton you're paying $480 a ton. You've saved a bunch by going to the source.

Here bagged and bulk feed are being sold at the same price by cargill; about $550 a ton. The local mill, wolfkill feeds, is $420 a ton. The only other way for me to cut custs further would be to either mix my own feed or truck it from somewhere.

kerrie said...

I've been trying to figure out the zone laws for pigs in salt lake city UT was wondering if they r allowed I haven't seen pig farms out here but I'm interested in it

Jessica said...

Does anyone know a good source of organic pig feed or where to buy a piglet in western washington?

Joel said...

Jessica: there are weaner and feeder pigs available on craigslist all the time. As far as good quality feed, following organic practices (without the USDA labeling) and good non-gmo ingredient options, I'd check out Patriot Farm and Bison.

Unknown said...

Non gmo or organic is the best way to go. Corn is basically all gmos. Where I live I can get my pig food pretty cheap. I can pick up a ton of dried peas for 220.00 a ton oats 220.00 a ton and barley 170.00 a ton. Last month I paid 130.00 a ton for oats. I shop around and go to local mills. I don't buy any of my pig feed at the stores.

Unknown said...

I live near Spokane and the cheapest place I found for organic feed is Sandpoint Idaho. You can find them on craigslist if you look up organic. Their peas were 330.00 a ton. Their oats were 170.00 for 1700lbs. I think their wheat was 300 a ton. Everyone else wanted well over 400.00 a ton.

Joanna said...

Wow! It's been a couple years since we ran pigs at our place and prices have sure gone up! We're up north of you, near the Canadian border, so I stumbled across this post looking for super sack pricing locally.
The cost of weaners is way up too, about $150, but I wonder if it's from kids buying fair pigs and heating up the market. We also lost a processor when Keizer meats went halal, so there is often a bottleneck at slaughter time.
Still...nothing beats home-raised pork :)