Feeding out your pigs will be the most expensive part of raising them! Can you raise great pork on the cheap?
Let’s look into some feeding options for your pigs and see how they work out for your wallet!
The cheapest way to feed pigs for butchering is to use ground feed from your local feed mill at $0.14/pound. If this is not an option for you, the next cheapest is to make your own feed at $0.22/pound.
|Feed||Cost Per Pound|
|Feed mill floor stock|
bulk bagged 100# bags
|Feed store name brand feed|
50# bags (more expensive option)
|Feed store brand feed|
50# bags (cheaper option)
63# batch as shown in video
|Grind at home/farm|
make in 500# batch
Since feed costs will be the biggest cost you have when raising your pigs, it only makes sense to shop around and get good feed for a good price. Let’s go over where to look for feed sellers to find good feed at a reasonable price.
When Is Your Pig Ready To Butcher goes over the things you need to look at on the pig to see if they are well finished.
Need ideas on which pigs to raise? Check out my article Best Breeds Of Pigs For Meat.
Use pig feed from a feed mill
The absolute cheapest way to feed a pig for butchering is to use feed from a feed mill that grinds their own feed.
They will have floor stock of the popular feeds already done and waiting for you to pick up. Feeds like pig grower and laying mash are likely to be floor stock for most mills.
I realize not all areas have a feed mill within a reasonable driving distance.
First off, let me say that is a shame. People need freshly ground, locally available and reasonably price feed to raise their own meat!
If you do not live close to a feed mill, your best bet is to do some math to pick the option that will be the most economical. Don’t skip this step!
Here’s a video about mixing your own pig feed from cracked corn, soy and livestock mineral. I have never tried making this feed. I am including for anyone who does not have a feed mill in their area.
Since the purpose of this article is finding the cheapest gains for your pigs, you have to do the math for your area’s prices to make sure it is a better deal for you.
If you do decide to go the homemade feed route, here’s one thing to keep in mind. As the pigs grow, they will each more and more each day.
Even if you just have a few head to feed, they will cruise through that small batch in no time. You’ll feel like all you can get done is mixing feed!
When I price this homemade mix using current prices in my area versus the 50 pound bags of the lowest priced complete pig feed available at the farm store, the homemade mix is cheaper.
I get $0.22/pound for the homemade and $0.26/pound for the cheapest bagged feed.
Once again, none come close in price to the feed mill prices! In my area pig feed is $0.14/pound at the feed mill.
An option if you have a friend who can grind feed is to have them grind you some when they make their own.
We grind our feed here from shelled corn raised by a neighbor and purchased soybean meal and mineral mix for about $0.10/pound.
The catch is this requires a grinder. But if you know someone willing to grind for you, look into the option.
Keep the pig growing quickly
The biggest cost to raising pigs is feed. You’ll spend more on feed per pig than you did to buy the pig in the first place!
The reason you need to keep pigs growing quickly is that younger pigs are more efficient than older/bigger pigs at gaining weight from the food they eat.
This means that the longer you keep the pig, the more time you spend paying for maintenance, not growth.
Slow growth is costly, in time, disappointment and especially in higher than they need to be feed costs.
Here is a link to an article with some great charts that explain all of the details on feed to gain ratios based on the weight of the pigs.
Read the charts on page two for the feed to gain information.
Supplement your pigs with other foods carefully
If you have read other articles on raising pigs cheaply, you may see a variety of other feeds, like stale bread and milk products, recommended for cheaply feeding your pigs.
Take caution before you feed these items.
First off, are they really free? How far did you have to drive to get them, your time and effort are not free. As mentioned above, slow growth is very costly in terms of feed to gain ratio.
Making the whole pig project take longer than it should is not an economical choice either!
Second, some new foods will kill your pigs. Seriously. Watch out for poisonous weeds and landscaping/yard clippings here.
The Complete Pig Feeding Guide by Osbourne Livestock Equipment is a nice overview of your pig’s feeding needs based on weight.
Also, we never feed extra milk to feeder pigs. I know it is all over the internet, but anytime we or a friend of ours has given extra milk to pigs, one of the group is dead the next morning.
Most importantly, what is the nutritional value of the stuff you got? You can not feed your pigs junk and expect them to grow well on it! That is just common sense!
The exception to this rule is overgrown produce from your garden or grass/hay and other forages that the pig would get for himself.
While neither of these feeds are calorie rich, they are of high quality and will give your porker a nutritional boost.
No or low grain intake pig feeding will cost more
Having your pigs eat food sources other than ground pig feed will make them grow slower which will increase the cost to raise them.
As referenced above, read the article on feed to gain and the relationship to the weight of the pig. Older pigs are much less efficient in gaining weight from the food eaten.
Can you do it? Sure, but realize it will cost you in time and money. If feeding no grain is what you want to do, great. Just realize it is not the cheapest way to raise a pig. Doable, yes. Cheap, no.*
Best Feeds For Pigs shows you how to pick the feed sources that make the most sense for you in your area.
Pasture or woodlot pigs will cost more to feed
I love to see pigs roaming out and about in the woods or pasture. They seem to have a good time exploring their area and digging for snacks.
However, this is not the cheapest way to raise a pig either.*
Why not? Pigs that are out running around the woods are using energy to play that you had hoped would go for growing.
The same with pastured pigs, it uses feed energy to do all of the horsing around those characters will be doing.
How Many Pigs On 5 Acres? goes over pastured pigs and few potential rotation plans. If you have less than 5 acres, that’s fine, these ideas will still work for you, just with a few less pigs.
This means even more feed per pound of gain will be needed. It also means your pigs will take a bit longer to reach finishing weight than a pig raised in a smaller pen.
Don’t get me wrong, pigs need room to move, for sure! They need to be able to root and do something interesting all day.
What I am pointing out is that if you give them acres and acres of space they will do tons of running and significantly less growing! We are searching for a happy medium here!
*The exception here is if grain is truly outrageously priced in your area, then pastured or wooded could make sense, money wise, rather than buying feed, as long as you are willing to accept the longer grow out period.
For most folks, when you consider land cost, other animals you could raise on that land instead and the cost of your time, it’s cheaper, overall, to feed at least some grain to keep the pigs growing at an optimal rate.
Check out Sugar Mountain Farm for some great information on pastured pork.
Be sure to note that while this family does not feed grain, they try feed their herd other high energy feeds like sunflowers, dairy waste and starchy vegetables.