I always have people ask me the same question, “Why do you raise pigs?” This can be a hard question to answer. I can’t use the response “because they’re awesome” because that won’t answer their question. So I’ve sat down and taken the time to write out a number of the reasons I love raising pigs to give you an idea if it’s something you should consider doing.
Pigs are social animals
Pigs are very social animals. Every day when I head down to their pen they get excited to see me. Not just because they want to be fed but also because they love the social interaction that they get when I’m there. I like to spend as much time with them as I can because it keeps them happy. Just a simple scratch behind the ear (which they love by the way) can do wonders for your relationship with them. While it is true that they are raised for meat I’m still a firm believer that a happy pig is a flavorful pig.
Pigs Love to Play
Pigs love to run around and play almost as much as they love to eat. It’s not uncommon to see them chasing each other around or playing tug-of-war with their favorite feed barrel. You have to be careful though because they can play pretty rough. If you are in the pen with them they can and will knock you over and trample you. This is one of the reasons I don’t allow children around the pigs. Right now my pigs are around 300 pounds and I bet you can image what that feels like when they run into you.
Farm Raised Pigs taste so much better
The flavor from farm raised pork is so much better than anything you can buy in the store. It doesn’t just look better but the taste is amazing. There are many different things you can feed your pig but my favorite is a mix of various grains. This allows them to put the weight on and ensures that they are getting the Vitamins and Minerals that they need to be healthy.
Should I Raise Pigs?
By now your probably asking yourself if you should raise pigs. The short answer to that question is, it depends. There are a lot of things to consider before taking on this responsibility. One of the first things you should do is make sure you are ready for the level of commitment that goes into it. Because pigs are as social as they are they require a lot of time to truly be happy. This involved playing with them, taking to them, petting and scratching them, etc. For a lot of people this time commitment can be too much. Another thing to take into consideration is the laws where you live. In most large cities you aren’t allowed to raise pigs within city limits. Obviously you want to look into this before you go out and buy a piglet. Next up is Fencing.
Pigs are very strong animals and it can take quite a lot to keep them penned up. Regular wood slatted fencing isn’t going to do the job. I personally use horse panels with a “no-climb” fence around the outside. This gives them a simple structure that will not only keep them in, but help protect them from outside threats such as coyotes. The stronger the fence the better off you will be.
to get 1 pig from weaning to market weight (285 lbs). That’s an expense that can be a problem to some people. Let’s say, for example, that you go to your closest feed store and a 50 lb bag of hog feed is $15.99. That doesn’t seem to bad right? Well let’s do the math real quick:
50 / 900 = 18
So it takes 18 of those 50lb bags of feed to get them to market weight. Now, let’s figure out how much that costs exactly:
18 x $15.99 = $287.82
Wow! That’s a lot of money to feed one animal for 5 or 6 months. Granted you get a lot of that back in pork come butcher time (which is another big expense).
So now you know about how much in feed it costs you to raise a pig from the time it’s weaned to market weight. So let’s add up all the costs and see just how much your paying for your pork.
First off lets get the numbers sorted out:
Water: $100 (It can vary depending on where you are but for this example we’ll figure $100)
Processing Costs: $250 (Most processors charge on a per pound basis which usually comes out around $250)
So adding those costs together comes out to:
287.872+ 100 + 250 = $637.82
So we now have a total cost of $637.82 to raise that 1 pig to market weight. Now to figure out how much your paying per pound you need to know how many pounds of meat you actually have. So a pig’s hanging weight will usually be about 65% of its live weight. So for a 285lb hog that is about 185.25 lbs hanging weight. Now you can subtract roughly another 40 lbs for bone, skin, etc. So your left with about 145.25 lbs of usable meat. So Lets see what our per pound price is:
$637.82 / 145.25 = $4.39 per pound
That means that the pork you just put in your freezer cost you about $4.39 per pound. That is honestly why farm raised meats tend to cost more than what you can get in the store. So the question you have to ask yourself is this: Do I want to put all the work and time into raising a pig and still end up paying over $4 per pound? That’s a decision only you can make.
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