Raising our own pork turned out pretty successfully for us the first time that we tried it. So back in September we purchased two feeder pigs again. It was a little later than we had intended to start raising them, but it just hadn’t suited to start sooner. We started out well, purchasing the two pigs for $84 vs. the $130 they had cost us last time. They were also a little bigger in size. Unfortunately though, one of them started not thriving and my husband noticed him coughing soon after we brought them home.
He had bought the pigs from a local livestock auction the same as last year. But apparently, the one caught a respiratory virus, possibly at the auction house. So after some research, and speaking with his dad, he had to make a trip to our local Tractor Supply. He bought an antibiotic to vaccinate both pigs with, since the second pig also started coughing. One injection seemed to do the trick and both pigs recovered. His dad helped him castrate the male pig. We had done this last time also, not wanting the male hormones to taint the taste of our pork.
We also made a change to the type of feed we gave the pigs this year. Last time, close to when we had the first set of hogs butchered, I had discovered a local farm that raised their own non-GMO pig feed to sell. So instead of purchasing pig pellets at Tractor Supply again, my husband made trips to that farm to purchase our feed from them primarily. He also bought our chicken feed there too.
We did give the pigs table scraps again this year. But we did not have as much garden scraps for them, since it was later in the season. For some strange reason these pigs did not seem to care for tomatoes, while the ones we had raised prior absolutely loved them.
We of course had hoped to cut expenses this year, and be more cost-efficient. Our pig feed was cheaper, however we ended up spending more due to feeding them during cold season. Last year we butchered in mid-December before it got cold. But this year we didn’t butcher until January 22. We spent $472 on feed, versus $337.50 the first time. My husband orginally thought we had to buy more straw this time, but he wasn’t real precise keeping track, so I don’t know what we actually spent on that. Also some money was spent on heat tape to try to keep their water system from freezing. Which, was not always successful.
After seeing how the cold increased costs, and plus the added bother of dealing with frozen water, and generally caring for the pigs during winter, we plan to start earlier this year with our next batch of feeder pigs. Possibly in June. We also got a price sheet from a different butcher shop. This one offers the option of paunhaus which our current one does not. We are hoping they will be cheaper for the butchering and processing expenses. We had used the same one again this time, but they are possibly more pricer, and so are planning to try someone else next time.
We did not have the pigs as long this time, but they ended up being much larger than we planned! Last year together, they weighed 550 lbs. This year they ended up being 680 lbs, so about 340 lbs. a piece! When raising pigs for pork, bigger is not always better, sometimes you end up with more fat and waste, when you butcher. Especially if someone else is butchering for you, and processing costs are based off the hanging weight. That extra fat just ends up costing you.
Fortunately though, the butcher told my husband that we still had quality meat compared to some that he has seen. I’d like to think that our pasturing them makes a difference. We again put up temporary electric fence this year to allow the pigs access to grass. Although, they pretty much destroyed the grass in the whole area we gave them. They rooted and dug holes all over. There wasn’t any grass left to really speak of. But I guess they still had access to grubs and freedom to run around. Better than being enclosed in a tiny pen, and just feed till they got fat.
So here’s a little list of approximate costs from this year. If you’d like to compare to last year, check out Raising Healthy Pork for Less. (Spoiler–we spent at least $123 more this year, but the pigs did end up being larger at processing time. )
Cost to Raise——-$661
However, I should add, we also sold $455 worth of meat to friends/acquaintances. One of them bought half a hog, and the others got some different cuts. We still ended up with quite a bit of meat, our freezer is packed full. If we hadn’t sold half a hog, we wouldn’t have been able to fit all the meat! We didn’t have quite as much freezer space this time though, because we had corn frozen from this summer.
So if I subtract the amount we sold from our costs, our final tally is $823.70. Based off last year’s numbers, I estimate we ended up with about 180 lbs of meat. After subtracting what we sold to others that is. So our cost per pound would end up being $4.58 this year. That would mean it cost us about$.27 more a pound for raising them this year. Oh well. Doesn’t mean we will quit raising them. We like raising our own pork, and the sense of satisfaction seeing that full freezer gives us! Maybe on our third attempt this summer we will improve those numbers.
Home-raised Pork in the Freezer!