How Much Freezer Space Do You Need For Your Pig? (Whole, 1/2 or 1/4)

package of bratwurst from author's pig

You’ve finally done it, some wonderfully delicious pork is headed your way! How do you know if you have enough space in the freezer as is or you need to get another freezer?

Freezers hold 35 pounds of packaged pork per cubic foot. A whole hog needs 4 cubic feet of freezer space, while a half hog would need 2.3 cubic feet of freezer space. A quarter hog needs 1 cubic foot of freezer space.

This is an exciting moment, I love getting pork for the freezer! Now, let’s make sure that the pork you have coming will fit in the freezer space you have!

Want to raise your own pigs next year? How To Raise Backyard Pigs gives you the run down on what you need to have and why!

Where To Buy Your Feeder Pigs walks you through how to figure out the best places in your area to get great feeder pigs.

Portion of pigPoundsMinimum freezer space
whole 120-1404 cubic feet
half 60-802.3 cubic feet
quarter 30-401 cubic foot

When Is Your Pig Ready To Butcher gives you the specific things to look for on your pig that tell you it’s freezer time.

The more bone in pieces and the more whole pieces you get the more space you’ll need for your pork. Getting all boneless cuts, for instance chops and sausage will get you more meat for the space.

Getting whole cuts, like the whole ham, or even half a ham and whole roasts will take up more space since they do not stack up well, even though the packages themselves are heavier.

Cuts that will “mess up” your calculations a bit:

  • packages that take up a lot of space compared to their weight, like spare ribs
  • whole roasts, plenty of weight, just an odd shape
  • hams, whole or split, heavy but not a stackable shape
  • soup bones

Know the dimensions of your freezer

The good news is that even a whole hog is not hard to fit into a freezer, but it’s best to check and figure out how much space you have before you have a bunch of meat sitting out defrosting on the counter because it won’t fit!

The first thing you need to do is to measure your freezer! You’ll need to get the measurements, in inches, for height, width and depth.

I just use a tape measure and write the measurements down as I get them. If you can remember the numbers, super! If you’re mind is not numbers oriented, write them down.

You should end up with something like 20, 54, and 28.

Now multiply these numbers together. You’ll get a crazy number, which is actually what we are looking for.

20x54x28 = 30,240

So, what now?

Easy, divide this number by 1728 (which is 12x12x12) and you’ll end up with the cubic feet of your freezer. You’ll end up with a number below 20, mine is 17.5.

30,240/1728 = 17.5 cubic feet

Technically speaking, there is a corner of the bottom of your freezer taken up by the compressor, which in mine is 1.875 cubic feet, taking the total space from 17.5 to 15.625 feet of actual space in the freezer for your food.

Unless you are going to be super tight on space, don’t worry too much about this part, just go with the cubic feet that includes the compressor (17.5 for mine).

pigs eating at a wheel feeder
Here are some of my pigs, the bratwurst is made from the more spotted pig eating at the feeder.

What if your freezer is half full, how much pork will fit in it now?

FreezerCubic FeetAmount of Pork it will hold if freezer is half full
Compact3-5half a pig (if freezer is 4 cubic feet+)
Small5-9a whole pig (if freezer is 8 cubic feet+)
a half pig will easily fit
Medium10-16a whole pig
Large17+2 whole pigs!
Numbers for freezer sizes taken from Maytag Guide To Freezer Sizes

If you are not putting your pork into a new or completely cleaned out freezer, you’ll need to guess how much of the total space you have available.

You can just “eyeball” it or be more precise and measure. If you want to measure, just level out the packages you have in there or stack them to get the most free space.

If you want to level out the food in the freezer: If the interior of your freezer is 20 inches in height and you have cleared down 10 inches from the top, you have about half the total freezer volume left to use for pork.

If you need to stack the packages then measure the space: In the same freezer, if you can clear out only half of the top to 10 inches open space, you have a quarter of the freezer volume open to use.

Do not use the outside dimensions of your freezer!

One of the more frustrating things about trying to find out how much space is in your freezer is that the dimensions you find online are for the exterior of the freezer.

This is so you can measure to see if it will fit in the spot you plan to put it and get it through doorways to that spot after you buy it!

These are helpful numbers, indeed, but misleading if you are using them to calculate space for your meat.

Here’s an example: the exterior measurements of my freezer are 27x61x34. That ends up being 32 cubic feet! 32 is the cubic feet of the entire freezer, not the open storage area, which is the part you want.

Know the space needed for your pork

As a general rule, 35-40 pounds of meat will fit in each cubic foot of your freezer. Make sure you plan in a little wiggle room, as well.

I know the numbers are 35-40 pounds, but, at least in my experience, go with the lower number to make up for odd shaped cuts, like whole roasts, or anything that has a lot of volume but not a lot of meat, like ribs.

Here are the average pounds of packaged pork:

  • a whole pig is 120-140 pounds
  • a half pig is 60-80 pounds
  • a quarter pig is 30-40 pounds

You should know that these numbers will vary with the size of the animal you started with, so your actual numbers will be close but probably not an exact match.

I just got back a pig that was in the 140 range, but she was big. If your pig is smaller plan on getting about half of the live weight in the freezer, less if you are going all boneless.

Another point to consider is that you’ll want to have a little bit of space around the meat, specifically the top of the packages, to keep the cold air circulating properly in the freezer.

One or two “odd bits” sticking out of the top of a package will make that freezer door hard to get securely closed if you are tight on space. If you’ve left yourself some wiggle room, no worries.

Clean out the freezer first!

Clean out your freezer before you put the new meat in it. Especially if you measure the open area in your freezer and think you don’t have enough space.

If you are a naturally organized person, this may seem like an odd thing to say, but if you are like me and commonly find things you forgot about in the far reaches of the freezer, take this tip to heart.

You’ll be surprised at all of the stuff you bought and never used that’s hogging space in your freezer. Now is the time to get it out of there!

This is hard for me to do, I’m naturally a bit of a hoarder (okay, okay, more than “a bit”), so I have to ask myself if I’ll really eat that, freezer burn and all. Usually, the answer is no, so I toss it quick while the rational me is still in charge.

Seriously, dig deep and get all of that extra stuff out. Unless you just did this clean out in the past month or so, you’ll be shocked at the would be usable space you’ll have available.


Guide To Freezer Sizes And Dimensions Maytag.com, cubic feet range that corresponds with each class of freezer size

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