Thursday, March 24, 2016

The cost of raising your own pig: 2016 edition

This is what it will cost you to raise a pig in my area; your own individual feed costs may vary a bit, but this should give you a good idea of what your cost is to raise your own pigs.   If you just want the numbers, go to the bottom of this post where I list 'em all out.  

Pigs aren't very hard to raise at all - as long as you get a handle on the fencing situation, you'll typically have very little to do other than keeping the feeder full and making sure that they have water and a dry place to sleep (more on the place to sleep later)

We are selling our piglets right now (March, 2016) for $125 each.  That's for a 20 to 30lb weaned pig that is healthy and active.  They've had 7 to 8 weeks on the sow, and have been eating solid food in addition to nursing for at least 2 weeks.   I've found that keeping them on the sow adds weight faster than any other option for me, and I want to provide the largest piglet I can for the money.  

When a piglet is growing it's using the feed it eats for one of two things:  Growth or Warmth.  In the early spring, which is this time of year, the piglets will benefit from having a warm, dry place to sleep.  It doesn't need to be fancy; I've seen people use old pickup truck canopies as great pig houses, or a 3 sided box made out of pallets, or a calf dome that's been repurposed - the goal of the shelter is to provide a wind break and keep the bedding dry.  having a warm, dry place to sleep means that more of your feed goes into growth, and less into heating.  

So I'd suggest you buy a bale or two of the cheapest hay you can get, or straw, and provide it to your pigs in the shelter.  In my area straw sells for $9 for an 80lb bale, local grass hay for $6 / 60lb bale.  I'd buy one or two bales, and then provide it to the pigs a quarter bale per 2 piglets at a time.  

Each piglet will need 800lbs of feed, (unless you can find some free pig food!) and I'm paying $345/ton for feed delivered to my farm.  That works out to be about $0.17/lb, or roughly $8.62 per 50lb bag (mine is in bulk, not bagged).  If you're going to buy bagged pig feed at the feed store you're probably going to be paying between $13 and $16 per 50lb bag, which works out to be something like $520 a ton to $640 a ton.  It's worth checking if you can get bulk feed, or, if you're raising enough pigs, if you can put together a minimum order (usually 4 tons) so you can get the feed at something closer to the price I pay.  

I would say that a minimum pig pen is going to cost you about $120.  that's 4 hog panels (16' x 34" tall) and 8 metal fence posts (T posts) to hold  the panels up.  that's a good size for a couple of weaners, you'll want more space as they get bigger, but that setup allows you to train the pigs to an electric fence.  

I highly recommend electric fence training because it allows you to fence your pigs in later with a single strand of wire or rope or tape or whatever  you're using for fencing material, and you can quickly and easily move the pigs around your property to graze on whatever it is you'd like to graze.  I use the pigs to clear fencelines and areas that I can't otherwise use, for instance.    A good electric fence charger will cost  you something like $180, and lets toss in $40 for tape or rope or wire, and another $50 for 20 step-in plastic posts.    20 posts would allow you to enclose an area about 100' square, which you can move around as the pigs munch on whatever is there to start.  

Here's the rundown

Cost of the pig $125
Cost of bedding $18
Cost of feed (800lbs, wholesale) $138.00
Cost of feed (800lbs, low retail) $208.00
Cost of feed (800bs, high retail) $256.00

So the cost ranges from $281 to $399, all consumables included

For $281 to 399 you get 220lbs of hanging weight pork, which will translate to 165lbs of  everything that you would expect; hams, bacon, pork chops, sausage and so on.  If you butcher it yourself, you'll be getting your meat at something like $1.70/lb to $2.41/lb .  Which is a very good value.  

If you choose to have the meat processed by a meat shop, add $60 for the farm kill, and then $0.60 or so for the cut-and-wrap fees.  Your local meat shop may charge more for sausage or for curing or smoking; so we'll just call the cut-and-wrap fee $0.80 and add it to the total.  that would give you a complete cost between $2.50/lb (wholesale feed) to $3.21/lb (retail feed), which is still better than you'll typically do in the supermarket.  

Your pen (which you can re-use the next year, and for many years, actually) will cost you $430 and will house up to 4 piglets and give you the option to move the pigs around for grazing.  

I would recommend pigs as an easy-care animal (but do take my advice on fencing.  You do NOT want your pig to learn that it can get out or you'll have a rodeo every day!

And I haven't added a line for how much most folks enjoy having their own livestock.  Our current culture has removed most people from contact with livestock, and I honestly think that it adds a depth to your life that you can't get any other way.  


Unknown said...

raising pigs in your area is expensive. It would almost be cheaper to have the mest from one shipped in from NE

Bruce King said...

I agree with you. It's more expensive than in the midwest because most of the feed for the pigs has to be transported from there to here and/or purchased at retail prices. It's a little cheaper to find a wholesale seller, but the cheapest feed by far that I have is the feed I raise myself.