Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Question from Email: Marketing pigs

Hi Bruce,

My name is Scott [lastname] and I live in [town], FL.  I recently bought 10 small 

pigs and have weaned them.  
There are really no places around here to buy pigs and the market 
may be slim for them once they get 
grown?  Im sticking my toe in the water to see what happens. 
I grew up in the cattle business and have weaned and sold
 thousands of calves, but never a pig!

Im wondering if you could give me tips on marketing the little suckers?

Any advice would be great!



Hi Scott!

Marketing the hogs is the hardest part, and it's best to have them
sold before you buy them, but that can be difficult.  One of the
 best resources that I know of for small pig farmers is craigslist.  

Here's the link to the craigslist that covers the area you're in,
and I've taken the liberty to
make that link a search
for "pigs" in the farm and garden section.  

If I had no market base, and didn't want to spend much time
selling them, an ad on
craigslist is a pretty safe bet.
 it's free,  you can run it as long as you want, and you can get
an idea of what the local market for
pigs are by looking at what is being offered, and at what price.  

The issue with craigslist is that  you will not get the best price;
 there's always someone
 on craigslist selling
animals for the lowest possible price, but where you can set
 yourself apart from the
others is by talking about
your husbandry and standards, and about your particular pig

For a little better view on what the higher-end prices are, search
a site like
and see what the producers
there are asking for their pigs, or at your local farmers market.
My guess is that you'll
 find some pigs selling for $2/lb,
 and some selling for $14/lb.  Never, ever compete on price.
Compete on quality.  

I have found a ready market for pigs from cubans in my area
 who want to BBQ whole
pigs for family gatherings.
Eastern Europeans also are big markets for whole pigs.  See
 if there's a russian
orthodox church in your area
as a start.  often donating a pig for a church bbq or some other
 charity fundraiser is
 a way to get your name out
 there, too, and it builds goodwill.  

Pacific islanders are GREAT pig customers.  Tongans and
Samoans being two
groups that have purchased
lots of pigs from me.

With a total production of 10 pigs I think you should be able to
sell all of them handily.  

Some specific suggestions:  

Sell to family and friends.  A half a pig is small enough to fit in an
 average upper
freezer of a refrigerator, and everyone
 enjoys pork.  Your price should pay for all of your feed costs plus
something for
labor and equipment; what that is
 depends on you.   It takes about 800lbs of feed to bring a pig
 to market weight; around here that feed is
about $0.27/lb, which gives me a feed cost of $216.  figure
$100 for labor and
equipment per pig, and I'm at
$316, which works out to a cost basis for the pig of $1.58/lb.
 I sell my own pigs
 at $2.25/lb, which gives me a
net profit of about $134 per pig, but since I could hve sold
 that weaner pig for
$100, my actual net is $34/pig
with much less risk.  hmmm.. might have to raise my prices.  

Over at, he started at a price of $3.50/lb for his pork,
and here's a blog entry about his
experience selling his production.  

The reason that I can continue at $34 profit per animal is that I
 sell thousands
 of pigs, mostly as weaners, mostly
during the spring and summer.  I finish pigs mostly because
 the prices for
weaners in the winter
sucks, and I can make more money by doing so.  if I were
able to, I would be
 strictly a farrowing operation
and selling everything at weaning.  Much simpler business,
margins are
good, risk is smaller.  


George said...

Something is off w/ the margins on your most recent post... everything is chopped off...

Jeff said...

Thanks for the link to my post. The only thing I'll add is to make sure when you're using hanging weights vs. live weights (vs. cuts from the butcher in some cases). A 200 pound live weight pig is only going to be about 140 pounds hanging. Most back of the envelope feed conversion efficiency numbers (like 4:1) use live weight.