|Need to purchase
|Total cost to raise
Thinking about raising your own pigs? You’ll get the highest quality pork with amazing taste and you’ll save some money, or so you’ve heard!
How much total cost are we taking about here and what is the amount you are saving?
Raising a feeder pig will cost you $96-216 for the feed and $100-200 for the pig making your cash expenses $196-416 per finished pig.
First of all, congratulations! Raising your own meat is huge!
Welcome to a new level of taste and nutrition of yourself and the people you love while relearning your connection to your food. Sincerely, I’m glad you’re here!
Is Raising Pigs For Meat Worth It? is an article I wrote that goes over some of this information in a slightly different way, if you want to check this article out, as well. It also breaks down the costs by pounds of pork in your freezer.
Cost to raise feeder pigs is $196-416 each
Now, on to business: what exactly is the whole raising your own pigs thing going to cost you?
We’ll need to start with a few assumptions:
- You are planning to raise feeder pigs.
- You will be buying all of your feed.
- You had to buy the feeder pig.
- You are comparing cost of the meat you will be producing to pork that is raised with small farm/farmer’s market level of care.
Granted, step 4 is a step beyond the original question of the cost to raise pigs.
Since an additional step, with additional cost, is needed to get the pork to your freezer, I’ve decided to include butchering costs as well.
Cost of purchased feed is $96-216 per pig
The cost of feed for your pigs will be between $96-216 each, depending upon where you get your feed, with smaller bags and brand name feeds being more expensive.
There are two main types of feed you can buy for your pigs, brand name or bulk. The brand name feed is at the local feed store in 50 pound bags. The bulk feed is at the feed mill in 100 pound bags.
I used the average current prices from my area, you’ll have to find the current prices for your area.
Branded feed-50 pound bags-$18.00 each
Feed Cost: $0.36/pound
Finishing Cost: $216.00
$0.36 x 3=$1.08 per pound of gain 200 pounds of gain needed x $1.08=$216.00
Brand name feed will be available at nearly any farm store and will always come in 50 pound bags. These smaller bags are easier to handle, I always appreciate that!
However, the down side of branded feed is the cost.
Usually the branded feed is almost twice as expensive as bulk feed! If branded feed is your only option, then that’s what you use. Or you could mix your own!
Best Feed For Pigs goes over your feed options to help you decide which one or combination of feeds will work best for you and your pigs.
Bulk feed-100 pound bags-$16.00 each
Feed Cost: $0.16 per pound
Finishing Cost: $96.00
$0.16 x 3=$0.48 per pound of gain 200 pound of gain needed x $0.48=$96.00
The bulk feed will be made in large batches and kept ready to sell at the feed mill. It will be significantly less money per pound than the branded feed.
The reason for the lower price is that the feed mill can make one big batch out of economically priced ingredients they get in bulk and sell to everyone who wants just a bag or two.
The down side of bulk bagged feed is the 100 pound size, that’s a heavy bag.
An alternative to carrying heavy bags
An option to reduce the weight per bag is to scoop out some of the feed from the 100 pound bags into another bag when you get home.
I do this all of the time. Sometimes, just taking out 20 or 30 pounds (3 or 4 big feed scoops full) makes a huge difference to me when I carry it into the barn.
How much will it eat to get to finishing weight?
Pigs need to eat 3 pounds of feed to gain one pound of body weight up to about 250-260 pounds live weight. After that, it’s more like 5 to 1!
Using this ratio, 3 to 1, we can figure out approximately how much feed our pig will need to get to finishing weight.
Figure the amount of gain needed
You need two numbers: the starting weight of the feeder pig and the finishing weight you want your pig to reach before butchering.
We’ll use a 60 pound feeder pig and a 260 pound finished pig, as an example.
Finished weight – feeder weight = pounds of gain needed
260 pound finished weight-60 pound feeder weight=200 pounds of gain needed
Using these numbers your pig needs to gain 200 pounds to finish at 260 pounds.
Multiply pounds of gain needed x three pounds of feed
You need to have your pig gain 200 pounds to finish at the desired finishing weight.
To figure the amount of feed you’ll need just take the pounds of gain needed and multiply by three, since your pig needs to eat three pounds of feed for each pound of gain.
200 pounds of gain needed x 3 = 600 pounds of feed needed per pig
This is a basic overview regarding feed. If you are interesting in looking deeper, read my article on Feed To Finish A Pig.
Please note: if you want to finish your pigs to a higher weight, more like 300 pounds or more, it will take significantly more feed per pound for those last 40+ pounds to be gained than it did to get the pig to 250-260 pounds.
We like a bigger pig, at least 300 pounds at finishing weight, just plan on it taking an extra 200 pounds (or more) of feed to get there.
I plan on my pigs taking between 800-900 pounds of feed in total, per pig, since we are selling our market hogs at 300+ pounds each.
The faster growers will be closer to the 800 pound mark, the ones that grow a bit more slowly will end up closer to the 900 pounds of feed eaten.
Cost to buy the pig is $60-200 each
The cost of the feeder pig is the second big variable here (after feed costs), since I don’t know where you live!
The important thing to figure out is how close are you to farms that raise feeder pigs or auctions that routinely sell them.
The cost to buy your feeder pig is likely to be between $60-200 each. This is for a 50-60 pound piglet.
Feeder pig plentiful area-$60-100 per pig
You’re lucky to live close to a livestock auction or farmers who raise pigs as a business! I’d guess you’re looking at spending $60-100 per feeder pig.
You will be able to get the feeder pigs for a lower cost than the people who live in an area with no livestock. This is just supply and demand.
Where to find current local feeder pig prices?
Look at the results of the previous few weeks market reports, this is the list showing the range of prices for the animals sold each week through the auction.
Most auctions list the market report on their website, if the auction doesn’t have a website the report will be in a local newspaper.
If you are fortunate enough to live in an area that normally has feeder pig available to purchase, you’ll have more choices of what pigs to get and when to get them.
Feeder pig absent area-plan on $200+ each
If you can’t think of a farm with animals for miles, getting a few feeder pigs to your place is going to take a little more investigating.
When you do locate some feeder pigs, expect to pay more for them, you’ll likely be over $200 each.
This is supply and demand at work again, functioning as it should.
Good news, if your area has a butcher shop or a market hog class at the fair, you’re in business!
Consider looking through online marketplaces and see if any feeder pigs are available. Ask for information and put up an ad at the farm store where you plan to get the feed.
Depending upon where you live, you may have to drive a few hours to get the pigs. Dig deep and really think about where you can ask about feeder pigs.
Also, look early! When it gets nice outside in the early summer, everyone wants to get started on a summer project. If you call the farmer at this time, it’s likely all the pigs are already sold.
Cost To Buy Pigs goes into more detail on the purchase of your pigs and lists a few alternatives you might consider to buying your pigs in high demand times.
Be willing to buy pigs in the “off” season
At least around here, feeder pigs in the spring are significantly higher than feeder pigs any other time of the year, for the same quality of pigs!
This is due to the demand for fair pigs for 4-H and FFA kids. This high demand starts in mid February and goes through the first part of June.
If you want feeder pigs at this time, they are going to cost you more. If at all possible, get feeder pigs later in the year.
Think about it, if you get feeder pigs in mid July, they will be at market weight in mid November to early December.
This is just one example. Pigs are born year round and most sows have two litters per year, so six months from now that same farmer will have another litter of feeder pigs for sale.
If a different time period will work for you, it may mean the difference between getting pigs this year and having to get on the waiting list for next spring.
Around here, Ohio, piglets purchased from March until June will be much more costly than piglets purchased earlier or later.
If I wanted a few pigs for the summer, I would get piglets in July. While this sound late, it isn’t. 50-60 pound piglets purchased in early July will finish between Thanksgiving and Christmas, if they are on full feed.
Butchering costs are around $150
I just did an article about this specific topic earlier in the week, so here’s the link Butchering Costs for the Home Raised Pig. Check it out for a more detailed explanation of the costs.
My best guess estimate=$150.00+
I just ran some numbers and came up with $150 butchering costs. I used a kill fee of $80 and $0.70 per pound on 100 pounds of meat to get $150.
The butchering costs are specific to your order. The more you want done, the more it will cost per pound. The opposite is true, as well.
All butcher shops handle pricing differently, however if you add up the totals you’ll find you pay more to have the more involved stuff done to your order.
For instance: smoked sausage costs more per pound than bulk sausage.
Why? It’s the amount of work involved per pound: smoked sausage must be ground, stuffed in casings, smoked and packaged for your freezer; bulk sausage just needs to be ground and packed for your freezer.
Note: this estimate is for my area, where we have numerous slaughter houses and butchering your own meat is more common.
Don’t get the wrong idea here, everyone in Ohio isn’t raising their own meat (sadly). I mean it’s not crazy talk for people that are.
If you area in an area without easy access to a butcher shop, with none or they are super busy, your costs are going to be higher.
Cost to buy the pork instead of raise it yourself
Do a quick search and see what area prices for home raised pork will be. The difference between what you will be raising and what you could buy is time.
You are paying for the time and money it took to select, buy, care for and feed the pigs and pay the butchering costs.
Is it worth the time and the effort to you to raise your own pork? This is a “what do you value question” and only you can answer that.
What I can help you with is figuring out what it is likely that you would pay to buy a whole hog raised a manner you approve of and ready for your freezer.
A local farm selling pork has a great website with tons of information Harmon Creek Farms, including a detailed example of what you will pay if you buy a pig from them.
The costs they have listed are a total of price for the pig and money to the butcher.
$844 for a whole hog, processed and freezer ready and $442 for a half hog, processed and freezer ready.
We’ll use these prices to make our price comparison.
We’ll be getting 100 pound of meat so the done for you price for the whole pig is $8.44 per pound. Remember, that’s freezer ready.
Cost per pound for the pork you raise
For your home raised pork price per pound estimate, we have to do a bit of math.
If any of the prices I’ve used are drastically different than the costs for your area, just change the specific number in the math.
The process is the same no matter what costs you use.
Lower priced pig and lower feed costs
Feeder pig $100 + Feed $96 + Processing $150=$346.00
$346.00 divided by 100 pounds of meat=$3.46 per pound of freezer ready pork (lower cost estimates used)
Higher priced pig and higher feed costs
Feeder pig $200 + Feed $216 + Butchering $150=$566 total cost for raising and butchering the pig
$566.00 divided by 100 pounds of meat=$5.66 per pound of freezer ready pork (higher cost estimates used)
|Where you get your pork
|Cost per pound
|Small farm raised for you
|Home raised, lower cost
|Home raised, higher cost
How long does it take to get the pig to slaughter weight?
Time to finish really depends upon how big of a feeder pig you started with and the genetics of that pig.
A good estimate is 4 months to finish a 55-60 pound feeder pig.
Starting with a smaller pig, like 35 pounds, will take longer.
Additionally, really hot and super cold weather will change how the pig eats throughout the day, which will change how fast it grows.
Access to pasture will also slow growth, since they are running around a lot rather than relaxing and gaining weight.
Pigs love to be out in the dirt, rooting and exploring, but it will make them take longer to finish.
Sugar Mountain Farm has some great articles on keeping pigs on pasture, in Vermont! Click around, there’s a lot of good stuff here.