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Apr 22 / Jamie

The Cost of Things-Pigs

There is no question that to be successful at running a farm, you must run it like a business.  Now that we pretty much have all of the livestock that we are going to raise and have a good idea of what it costs to feed, shelter, and butcher them, we will be trying to figure out how much it costs to do what we are doing.  It will be a nice record for us, and we hope that those of you reading it may find it interesting and informative.  

Our two pigs will be going to the butcher sometime during the last two weeks of May, so we will do a cost analysis of them first.  At that point they will each way about 225 pounds and will be around seven months old .  This is considered to be “market weight”.  A pig under 30 pounds is typically referred to as a “suckling pig”, between about 50-150 pounds is a “roasting pig”, and anything between about 170-250 is considered a market weight pig.  Adult pigs reach about 750 pounds and are absolutely enormous.  

A quick aside, all of the meat you eat is from “baby”/young animals, the meat is at its most tender and at a certain point the grain/weight ratio of keeping the animal alive does not make sense from a financial standpoint and the animal is typically butchered around that time.  For example, in the first six or so months of a pigs life, each pound of grain it eats translates into one pound of weight gain.  Once it reaches a certain weight, this starts to plateau, in that the feed is no longer increasing the weight of the animal, but maintaining it.  Keeping the pig much longer than this does not make sense from the standpoint of feeding costs, it will not get appreciably bigger, so it might as well be butchered.  

So here is the breakdown for the pigs, these figures are the recurring costs for each pig:

  • Initial purchase price of eight week old mixed breed feeder pigs: $85
  • Feed, standard hog grower, one 50 lb bag, $10/week: $200 (this is a standard, vegetable based feed, but not organic which would have doubled or even tripled our costs)
  • Butchering fee $75 to kill and gut
  • $.65/lb of hanging weight, or “on the rail”-this is after the animal has been gutted and bled, about 175 lbs on an animal that weighed 225 lbs live, or “on the hoof”, total about $113
  • $.90/lb for smoking of ham, bacon, hocks, etc., total about $60
  • Total butchering cost: about $250

Total cost to raise a feeder pig to market weight and have it butchered and wrapped for the freezer: $535

At this point, we will have approximately 150 pounds of “retail cuts” and probably another 20 pounds of fat that we can use to make sausage or render into lard.  Here is a link to a brochure that breaks down all of the cuts and their approximate weights from a 225 lb hog.

So, if we divide $535/150 pounds, our meat will cost $3.56/lb.

Our one time costs include:

  • 10 hog panels: $280
  • Feed bucket and scoop, grain bucket, water bucket: $50
  • Total one time costs: $330

Our other expenditures are:

  • Water: 10-15 gallons/day that we get from our well or the pond
  • Time: 5-10 minutes twice a day to feed and water them, plus an hour once a month to move their pen to a new spot of pasture.  There is additional time for transporting them to the butcher, researching, etc that is hard to put a value on.
  • Scrap lumber that we used to make their shelter

Benefits to us:

  • Tilling: We have used the pigs to turn the sod on our 50 x 100 foot garden plot.  We still till with the tractor once we have moved them to the next spot, but the sod removal and first pass the pigs do is a serious service to us.  If we had to put a dollar amount on it, it would probably be about $200-300 worth of work.
  • Food waste recycling: Every bit of food scrap and waste that we have goes into the pig bucket.  The only things that end up in our compost are banana peels, tea bags, onion skins, and coffee grounds.  Additionally, we keep their slop bucket in one side of our sink.  Any time we run water for a drink or to rinse something off, we run it into the slop bucket.  We probably retain between 2-5 gallons/day of water that would otherwise simply run down the drain.  This is hard to put a dollar value on, but considering we have ZERO food waste in our trash, we feel like we are doing something nice for the environment and our community.
  • Entertainment: The pigs are hysterical to watch and very curious.  They LOVE back scratches and each day I try to give them each a few minutes of a nice massage.

When it is all added together, there is no question that having the pigs is of great value.  They produce very high quality protein while eating food that we don’t eat (grass, hay) and might not be able to compost (for example left over mac ‘n cheese).  We will certainly be raising more pigs, just this time maybe not over the winter as they had to use some of their feed to keep warm instead of get bigger.  Also, they don’t have the fresh pasture in the winter.

For those who are interested, we will be selling some of our pork for $5.50/lb.  That is consistent with what other small farmers in our area are selling the same quality meat for.  It will allow us to recoup our direct costs, and compensate us for some of our recurring costs and time.  We figure we will net about 300 lbs of retail cuts, of which we plan to keep about 100 lbs for our family.  In the next week, I will be making up different 10-20 pound “bundles” of the different cuts.  Anyone who is interested in purchasing one can let me know and we can work out the details ahead of time.  


14 Comments

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  1. 1
    Robert Jordan / May 4 2009

    Very interesting, Jamie. Thank you.

  2. 2
    Issa / Aug 17 2009

    Thanks so much! I’m just getting ready to start homesteading, and am looking to buy 1 or 2 piglets in the spring of 2010. This post is the clearest information I’ve found on the costs and benefits of raising pigs. Thank you!

  3. 3
    Mimi / Sep 15 2009

    Just wanted to say thanks for the info. Helped me out. I was told that it would be hard to get bacon from a pig weighing under 150lbs, is that so or do you happen to know lol. I want to buy a half pork as I don’t have the funds for a whole pork.

    • 3.1
      Michael / Sep 17 2009

      Yes, you really need the pig to have a hanging weight of around 200 lbs (live between 250-275) before you get good bacon development.

  4. 4
    jim / Nov 2 2009

    Hi, just found your site, What a huge difference in the cost of living from I’m assuming the east coast to here in the mid west EG. feeder pigs $45.00, corn $9.00 a hundred, hog panels $18.00, mixed feed $16.00 a hundred, kill fee $20.00 So take that into consideration as to were you live too what your final cost will be.

    I too like to have my hogs in the 225 – 250 lb before butchering

    • 4.1
      Jamie / Nov 3 2009

      That is very true, thanks for posting your prices. I am sure that it varies greatly based on where you live and my guess is that we may be in one of the most expensive regions. However, the price is still worth it compared to retail prices of all-natural, hormone free, pastured pork. Plus, I really love the pigs, they are so good at recycling all of my kitchen and garden waste.

  5. 5
    rebecca / Jan 19 2010

    how much could i sell a 4-H well developed 250 hampshire barrow for? i was thinking about 700? is that a good price or not??

    • 5.1
      Jamie / Jan 23 2010

      Certainly depends on location, but I’d say anywhere between $2.00-$2.50/lb. live weight seems reasonable (heavily market based). Your figure sounds a little high to me. $500-600 seems more reasonable, but it’s all based on what your local market will bear, which could have seasonal differences besides. Have you totaled your costs so you know what you “need” to sell it for (can you afford to go lower)? Also, is your customer getting a live animal that they have to make their own butchering arrangements for or is that included in the price. If included, the price seems much more reasonable.

  6. 6
    Bol / Feb 11 2010

    thanks for your tips..really excellent

  7. 7
    bezplatna obyava / Feb 2 2012

    Thank you indeed, I appreciate this,

    • 7.1
      Jamie / Feb 12 2012

      You are welcome, thanks for checking out our blog!

  8. 8
    Asa / Feb 11 2012

    How old are/were the pigs in those pictures?

    Thanks

    • 8.1
      Jamie / Feb 12 2012

      These were our first set of pigs that we raised, they have been consumed LONG ago. I think that in the last picture they were a few months old and at the oldest, maybe 7-9 months old. I know they were butchered right around 9 months, hope that answers your questions!

  9. 9
    Michelle Hartman / Dec 29 2013

    When raising pigs, it is best to remember that pigs do better in pairs.

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