Tuesday, February 7, 2012

The busy season for piglets

Lovely blue eyes on this little boar

The busy season for piglet sales is the early spring, starting about now.  Weaners purchased now will reach market weight in august/September, and it's popular to raise pigs over the summer.

We sell pigs at higher price in the spring, and that helps offset the lower prices in the fall.  If the prices fall too low in the fall, I'll just keep the pigs and raise them to market weight; those pigs are currently in the big greenhouse, and vary in size a little.  I think that this year I'll finally have enough pigs to do a little marketing with them.  In previous years I couldn't get out my farm gate -- I sold everything I produced. 
He got bottle raised at the house.  He's pretty tame

I get basically no return at all for a heavier piglet, which is an odd thing that I've learned.  If I sell you a 15 pound piglet, it'll cost you more to bring it up to 40lbs than I'll sell you a 40lb piglet for; I'm buying feed in bulk, and I supplement the balanced ration with fruits and vegetables.  But the price for a 15lb is the same as a price for the 40lb. 

In fact, I've found that it's difficult for me to sell anything bigger than about 40lbs except as BBQ pigs.  People just don't want to move medium or large pigs around.   They'll buy a weaner pig and raise it themselves. 
Nice hereford gilt

So I work on selling my piglets as soon as I can reasonably wean them, which usually means at 6 weeks of age.  They start eating small amounts of feed at 3 weeks, so at 6 weeks they're stealing their mothers food as well as what we feed them in the creep feeders.  A creep feeder is a small container that's reachable by the piglets, but not by the sow, and usually is filled with feed that is formulated to be very tasty to a young pig.  Creep feed is very expensive, but it gets them off to a really good start. 
(very expensive:  Bulk pig feed right now is about $440 a ton.  Stage 1 creep feed is $1280/ton.  Very expensive). 

I get a lot of request for field trips in March and April, and I'll sometimes delay a sale a few days so that the kids can see a whole pen of bouncing piglets;  the buyers usually understand, and they're welcome to come and watch the kids enjoy their pigs, and some do.  It's pretty fun. 
Snoozing in the straw

For a couple of reasons we can't let the kids touch the pigs, and we're careful to make sure that doesn't happen.  Both the little kids and the pigs have limited immune systems,  so the kids are more likely to have things like colds, which can be transmitted to the pigs.  I know the pigs are pretty healthy, but anything they contract will make their growout longer, so I'm careful with this. 

It may seem odd to you that I'm concerned about the pigs, but of the two, they are much less likely to have caught anything.   Children are little virus and germ incubators. 

Live Pig prices: 
20lb weaner:  $90-100 (depends on breed)
40lb weaner:  $100
41-70lbs:  $150
80lbs  $170 (most popular BBQ size)
100lbs $210
200lbs $350

Finished pig:  $2.25/lb hanging weight + kill fee
(Head and feet on, skin off, guts out)

Scald, scrape, gut and prep for BBQ:  $60

1 comment:

becky3086 said...

Wow, I only paid $50 for each of my piglets and I bet they were at least 40 lbs each, maybe more.