Is It Hard To Raise Pigs For Meat?


pigs eating at a wheel type feeder

You’re thinking about raising some of your own meat this year! Wonderful idea! The next step is to pick which animal to raise and pigs are at the top of the list.

But… how involved is all this? Sure, you can get a few pigs but will you be glad you did? The real question here is: Are pigs hard (or easy) to raise for meat?

Pigs are easy to raise for meat. Pigs grow quickly, produce a lot of meat per animal and can be comfortably raised in a roomy, well bedded pen or outside in a pasture or wooded lot.

Is Raising Pigs For Meat Worth It? will help you figure up a budget for going from feeder pig to freezer.

Pigs are easy to raise for meat

Pigs are one of the easiest animals to raise for meat!

Here are just a few of the reasons why I’m very pro pig:

  • pigs grow fast
  • pigs are fairly easy to find
  • pigs give you a lot of meat (per animal) for your efforts

It doesn’t get much better than that!

The other wonderful thing about pigs is that they are adaptable, as far as where you can raise them, what they can eat and when you can raise them.

cutting up home butchered pork
Here is our first pig this fall, I called her Doris, being cut up in prep for freezing. The chunks on the plate will be ground, we are huge sausage fans!

Pigs can happily live in a variety of places

Your pigs will be happy living in a nice, well bedded pen in the shed, a sectioned off part of your yard or in a pasture or wooded lot. They aren’t picky, as long as they can act like pigs, meaning have something to do, they are happy.

Pigs just need the basics, food, water, a buddy, something to do and some sort of shelter (mostly for shade) to be happy. Anywhere that you can give them what they need, you can raise your pigs.

Pigs can be raised on your locally available feeds

Around here, most folks raising pigs are raising them on feed from the local farm or feed store. Usually this is brand name feed in 50 pound bags.

If you are fortunate enough to live near a feed mill (they actually grind and mix their own feeds) you can get pig feed for much less money per pound than the brand name feeds.

Best Feed Mix For Pigs, goes over your options and the reasons why you should or shouldn’t use them.

You also have the option to add “extras”, like pumpkins, damaged vegetables, hay, etc., to add some fun to your pig’s diet. Pigs really enjoy a new food to discover, it’s like dessert to go with their regular ground feed.

You can mix your own pig feed out of grains that are common in your area, but it will require you to figure up the ration, source the ingredients yourself and then measure them accurately.

If you are new to pigs, it’s worth your time and effort to get pre mixed feed from the farm store or feed mill.

Pigs can be raised nearly any time of the year, you choose

It always strikes me as odd, how few folks realize that you can raise a pig nearly anytime of the year. Seriously.

When Is The Best Time To Get Feeder Pigs? is an article I wrote that goes over this idea in more detail.

If you are willing to do the work, meaning do whatever it takes to deal with the weather at that time of year, you can have pigs year round.

Most folks want feeder pigs (weaned piglets you buy to raise for meat) in the spring. Good idea, but probably not the only idea that will work for your area.

If you are keeping your pigs in a well bedded pen and giving them all they can eat feed, they should be grown in 4 months. So, all you need is a 4 month window of time that you are willing to do pig chores in.

We live in Ohio, so mid December through mid March is colder than most folks want to deal with because of freezing water, but that leaves a nice window from late March through early December, which is twice the time you need!

To be clear, I raise my own pigs (I have a small breeding herd) so I have pigs year round. During the frozen water days I am not nearly as happy to be out there as in the summer!

Pig supplies are easy to find

To raise your pigs, you’ll need to buy a few things including feed, a feeder, a waterer, the pen or fencing, and, of course, the pigs!

Equipment Needed To Raise Pigs show the basics you need to be set up for your porkers!

Normally, the things you need are pretty universal and can be found at most any farm or feed store, and, as far as the containment goes, if you are planning to use T posts and cattle panels, those can be found at most garden stores.

Get a feeder, used is fine (that’s what I have) and put together a waterer using a plastic barrel and a nipple valve, watch videos explaining how to do it. Of course, you could also buy new, but this DIY version is tons cheaper and works great.

Look around online, I bought most of my pig supplies used and see quite a few ads for pig feeders and waterers that are no longer needed, but still have plenty of use left in them.

Pig equipment is built to last. Our bigger feeder was purchased second hand 30 years ago, still works great.

Here’s a litter of feeder pigs using the feeder my husband bought, 30 years ago, when he was a teenager

If you want to keep things low budget for your first set of pigs, you can go with rubber pans for both feed and water.

The good news is the pans work just fine and they are cheap. Or you can substitute some low containers that you already have, as long as it didn’t hold anything toxic before and you don’t mind the pigs beating it up.

The bad news is that pigs are relentless spillers of both feed and water. They will tip over these pans.

They might be able to eat the feed off the ground so it’s not wasted but the water will require frequent refills from you, especially in the heat.

Your pigs will need 4-6 months to grow

Your pigs will grow fast! Faster than you would guess, but how fast exactly depends upon the genetics of the pigs, what you are feeding them and how you are housing them.

Best Pigs To Raise For Meat will go over how to choose the best pig to suit you no matter where you live.

A couple of locally raised crossbred feeder pigs on free choice feed and water that are kept in a nicely bedded pen will grow the fastest. These are the pigs that will go from 50 pounds to 260-280 in four months.

Feeder pigs let out on pasture or feed large amounts of alternative feeds, like imperfect produce, will take longer to reach finishing (butchering) weight, because they are getting a lower calorie diet and are running around more.

These pigs, pastured or alternatively fed, will take longer to reach finishing weight, more like 6+ months.

Unusual breeds or low to no grain fed pigs will take much longer, you might even be looking at a year. Nothing wrong with that, if you are willing to do the work and put in the time. If not, raise some crossbred pigs on free choice feed.

Your pigs need .25 acres or 256 sq. ft. per pair

I should tell you right of the bat that if you look up how much room pigs need, you are going to get a much lower number than 256 sq. ft. (which is 16 ft. x 16 ft.).

This is a great size of a pen for 2 or 3 pigs and you’ll be able to find the materials, like hog or cattle panels that are 16 feet long, at nearly any farm and garden store.

How Much Space Do Pigs Need? goes into more detail about what your pigs need and your options on where to raise them.

My pigs are inside on a deep bedded pack and 16 x 16 is working well, plenty of room for the pigs to play around and enough space to keep them clean. If a corner gets wet or poopy, just add more bedding, it’s super easy.

Industry standard is 8 sq. ft. per pig, so a pair would need 16 sq. ft. according to these numbers. Yikes, that’s too small, way too small!

Please go with a larger area, like the 16 x 16 (or bigger) for 2-3 pigs. Both you and your pigs will be happier for it!

Of course your pigs can go outside, either onto grass (yard or pasture) or in more of a wooded area, depending upon what is available to you.

Give your pigs plenty of space here, think more like .25 acres for 2-3 pigs, which is divided up into sections and the pigs are rotated through the sections. (This lets the rest of the area grow back, pig free.)

Check out Sugar Mountain Farms for more information on grazing pigs, the linked article is directed at small scale pig raisers. If you want information about larger scale pig grazing, try How Much Land per Pig?, Sugar Mountain Farms.

Click around on the blog, there’s a lot of interesting articles and firsthand information.

Resources:

Penn State Extension, 8 sq. ft. per growing pig, from Raising Small Groups of Pigs

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