A how-to guide on raising pigs for meat on the homestead.
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Pigs

Raising Pigs For Meat sustainably

Raising pigs for meat, to sustainably fill your freezer doesn’t have to be hard or overly expensive.

There is nothing more satisfying then preparing a meal that came entirely from your farm. Not only have you fed your family an inexpensive meal, you know exactly what is in your food and where it came from.

Raising pigs for meat is a great place to start!

Purchasing Feeder Pigs

During Spring and summer months, it should be relatively easy to find feeder pigs for purchase. You should be able to find them by networking with local farmers, local swap meets, or any basic sale sites such as Craigslist.

Our pigs this year were 6 weeks when we brought them home. We purchased 4 males that had all been castrated and vaccinated.

The upside to males is that they will grow to be larger than females. You do want to make sure they are castrated early as not doing so will taint the taste of your meat.

This year we paid $1.50 per pound and they were each around 35 lbs. each. that added up to a little more than $50 a piglet.

Anywhere between $25 to $75 a feeder pig would be fair. However, this year was the most we have ever paid for piglets.

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Pig Housing

Raising pigs for meat doesn’t require a large amount of space. They tend to be pretty inactive and are relatively clean animals.

Did you know that pigs will choose one corner to poop in, making them easy to keep clean?!

We spend ten minutes once a week shoveling out the corner and throw the waste in a compost pile. Once they reach full grown you may have to clean more often, but a few minutes shoveling and a fresh bale of straw once a week keeps smells to a minimum and the pigs clean and happy.

Right now we are raising our pigs in the corner of the barn on concrete however, creating an outdoor space using electric fencing would be just as well. Pigs love to root around and forage, if you have the space there is something to be said for animals raised on pasture.

Regardless of what you decide, a place to lay out of the sun in a clean corner and a nice breeze and your pigs will be happy to call home where ever you decide to house them.

We also add in an old bowling ball for them to push around and play with, this gives them something to do and helps develop muscles when they are kept in a small area.

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Food and Water

When the pigs are small we feed twice a day out of a trough. As they grow we eventually put in a self feeder to keep them content.

Last year we let the pigs get too big and ended up with really fatty meat. This year we are monitoring their intake more closely in hopes of getting leaner meat.

We feed our pigs in three different ways.

  1. We start with one bag of deworming medicated feed and then switch to a regular corn based hog feed. It costs us $7.50 for a 50lb bag. This year we went through 2600 lbs between the four hogs.
  2. We feed them table scraps. Our compost piles suffers a bit, but anything out of the kitchen that’s a little too far gone for us is perfect for the pigs. We don’t give them meat, dairy, or anything processed, but bread, veggies, and fruit scraps are all fair game. Check out this list for an idea of what you can and can’t feed your pigs!
  3. We also feed them out of the garden. Beet and carrot tops, beans and bean plants when we cleaned out the garden, melons, and lettuce. Pretty much anything other than nightshades such tomatoes, peppers, and onions are prefect for the pigs. This year we also had a wonderful neighbor reach out giving us all of her fallen and bruised apples. Our fruit trees did poorly this year, so this was a blessing. Two full barrels of apples and the pigs were happy campers.

Water for the pigs is also easy. We provide a self waterer, it’s attached to the side of the barn with a hose hook up. The pigs bump it with their nose when they need a drink.

Like all other animals, they need constant access to water. Buckets are messy with pigs, so a self waterer is the way to go. It keeps a constant flow of water in front of them while minimizing the mud hole pigs tend to make.

Time For The Butcher

Butchering your own hogs is a very real possibility but for us we’d prefer to pay someone else to do this.

We scheduled our appointment for the 5 month mark in hopes of having leaner meat. The way our pigs have fattened up this past month, this seems to be perfect timing for us.

You want your pigs nice and clean for their appointment. Make sure to keep their pen well clean the week before and lots of fresh bedding. You can even hose them down before their appointment if need be.

Funny story, as we were loading our pigs this year, we moved the self-feeder over, revealing a wet, mucky spot on the floor. They all started rolling in it instead of hopping nicely into the trailer. Needless to stay we all needed hosed off by the end of it.

We raised four pigs this year but only plan to put one in our freezer. The other three pigs were offered to family and friends at cost. We like to do it as a courtesy but this is where your opportunity lies to make a few dollars raising pigs for meat if you choose. Don’t forget to account for not just your feed costs but your water and equipment used.

We load the four pigs up in our stock trailer and make the trip to the butcher nice and early.

Plan to have help, pigs are not the easiest animal to load onto a trailer.

Make sure you sit down ahead of time and figure out the cuts of meat you want and how you want it done. There are lots of options with smoking, seasonings, and vacuum packing so have it all planned out ahead of time.

They should be ready to pick up in a couple of weeks. make sure to bring some coolers!

Raising Pigs For Meat Cost Analysis

This year our pigs ended up averaging around 220 lbs. With hang weights in the 160’s. Our costs came out to be $150 per pig. Plus our butchering costs which were $200.

With those numbers, we’re convinced that raising our own pigs for meat is an easy and cost-effective way to fill our freezer. Especially since we’re trying to keep four hungry boys fed!

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