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The Cost Of Raising Your Own Pigs For Meat

16 February 2011 15 Comments

In this post I’ll summarise all the costs we had in purchasing our three piglets and raising them through to slaughter and butchering. As you’ll see, not only was it ethically rewarding and satisfying to rear happy pigs in an outdoor environment, but it was economically rewarding too!

  • Purchase of pigs ($80 each): $240
  • Batteries (D cells) for electric fence: $28.20
  • Garlic for worming: $7
  • Straw for bedding: $10
  • 12x bags pig weaner pellets ($14.50 each): $174
  • 14x bags pig grower pellets ($18.50 each): $259
  • 9x bags “Cool & Calm” horse pellets ($13.50 each): $121.50
  • LHPA tattooing ($11 each): $33
  • Fuel transporting to abattoir: $35
  • Abattoir kill fee ($29 each): $87
  • Abattoir-butcher freight ($19 each): $57
  • Butcher cutting and packing ($40 each): $120
Total cost: $1171.70

According to the butcher, we got about 74 kg of meat back per pig. I’ll subtract the heads, tails, etc and round that down to an even 70 kg per pig.

That comes out to an approximate cost of $5.58/kg. Not bad!

As you can see from the above list, by far the biggest cost is feed. If you can grow a lot of feed yourself or have access to some kind of (meat-free!) waste food stream, you could really save a lot of money.

We kept our feed costs down a bit with the help of some friends. A nearby baker was giving us three big flour-sacks of day-old bread each week, and our greengrocer was giving us a big box of fruit and vegie scraps every week. The pigs also ate the weeds and grass in their runs (they had two different runs while they were here), and we fed them a lot of grass, weeds, and vegetable garden waste. We also got a few buckets of fruit from feral fruit trees and from under friends’ trees.

The Cool & Calm horse pellets were a way to keep feed costs down a little, and were also a useful substitute when I was running low on pig pellets (they are a special order item from feed suppliers around here). They are fairly similar to pig pellets in protein, fibre, etc, but probably lack the lysine (required for good pig growth). I alternated between pig pellets and Cool & Calm in successive feeds.

We chose not to castrate the pigs. Peoples’ opinions differ on whether this is necessary, and it didn’t seem worth the vet cost to me. It is supposed to reduce “boar taint” in the meat, but then that’s not usually a problem in boars killed under 6 months old anyway. It didn’t make the pigs hard to handle or anything, and we had three males so we weren’t going to have male-female interaction problems.

I haven’t included the electric fence equipment in the above list, since that was infrastructure that I’ll continue to use. The feed troughs, shelter, etc were all stuff I had lying around, and I was able to borrow a caged trailer for transport. I also haven’t included any running around in the car other than the abattoir trip, since most feed and bread pickups were on the way home from work anyway and the greengrocer dropped the scraps to us. These may be things to consider if you want to use my figures to estimate costs for your own pig project.

So there you have it! That’s all the costs and related info I can think of right now for our first foray into pig-raising. Hopefully this might help other people thinking of raising some pigs.

Please let me know your thoughts in the comments below, and feel free to ask questions if I’ve left anything out!

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  • Andrew FitzSimons said:

    Well done.

    We are running 50 head of cattle in kangaroo Valley. Mostly eat our own meat and swap grazing for meat with 10 neighbours.

    I’d be happy to swap beef for pork if you are interested.

  • Darren (author) said:

    @Andrew: Wow, that’s a lot of potential meat on the hoof! We have just enough pork at the moment to keep us going, so don’t really need to swap. We only kept one pig for ourselves. Perhaps next time, though. Do you also sell your beef? Some of the farmers near us sell direct (legally, I might note! – they use the abattoir and a nearby butcher) for about $8-$9 per kg for a whole side. We’ll do that one day, but we’ll have to clear some freezer space first :-).

  • Matthew R Simmons said:

    I wanted to know how much grain to feed 2 pigs per day to gain maximum growth in a 3-4 month time span. The need for this answer is to see if the over all cost is worth buying the pigs. We raised two pigs the year before last, but we got leftover produce/veggies from a grocery store, but that is no longer an option.

  • Darren (author) said:

    @Matthew: Having only done this once, and not feeding them pellets-only, I’m not really qualified to answer your question. You should be able to find some information with a web search, but it’ll be hard to get accurate info due to variations in breed, climate, genetics, gender, etc. Start by looking up the web site for the manufacturer of the feed you’re planning to buy – they should have recommended quantities, nutritional info, etc. Do let me know how you go!

  • Podcast Interview With Gavin From “The Greening of Gavin” said:

    […] My series of articles about raising pigs, and in particular, the cost breakdown of home-grown pork. […]

  • NATASHA said:

    How much profit did u make after raising the three pigs?

  • Darren (author) said:

    @Natasha: Err, there was no profit because I didn’t sell anything. The pigs were raised for our own consumption.

  • JJFarm said:

    How many kilos of pellets/feed did you give each pig per day? We have 4 pigs and are also supplementing with scraps/grain etc.

  • Darren (author) said:

    JJFarm: The amount of feed varies as the pigs grow. As a weaner (up to 25 kg/10 weeks old) or grower (up to 60 kg/16 weeks), they should have unrestricted access to feed to ensure they put on as much weight as possible. After those stages, they’re a finisher and the feed should be restricted to ensure they don’t put on too much fat. By the end, ours were eating about 2.0-2.5 kg/day each of pellets (depending how much other food I had to supplement it). You should be able to find quantity details either on the feed bags or on the web site of the feed manufacturer.

    What type of pigs have you got?

  • JJFarm said:

    We have Berkshire x Large White – they are the greatest little characters, although they are getting rather big now!! They have just hit 5 months old. The male is significantly bigger than the girls. We will keep 1 male and 1 female for breeding, I think. I’m interested in how you used garlic for worming?? Is this a chemical-free/natural alternative??

  • Darren (author) said:

    @JJFarm: They sound lovely! Garlic seems to me to be a helpful preventative for worms, if administered regularly. I’m not sure if it would be successful in treating an animal with a huge infestation, though. Some people swear by it, others think it’s mumbo-jumbo! I figure it can’t hurt, and will likely help to maintain their health. I gave them a heaped teaspoon of crushed garlic each with their morning feed, every day for a week, and repeated this every four weeks.

  • Walter Jeffries said:

    Kudos on raising your own meat! We raise pigs on pasture. You can dramatically reduce or even eliminate the bought feed by pasturing your pigs. We raise hundreds of pigs a year and don’t buy any commercial hog feed. We do get whey from a local cheese maker which provides lysine, an amino-acid that is limited on pasture. Garlic is great as an anti-wormer. We use powered and add it to our whey tanks.

  • Darren (author) said:

    @Walter: Thanks for commenting! Your blog was one of the sources of information I used for the pigs – in particular, garlic for worm prevention, info on pasturing, how much and what types of meat to expect, boar taint (we had none), estimating weight, etc. Thanks for all the info you provide. We moved our pigs around a couple times using electric fencing, so they got a good bit of fresh grass (and cleared up a lot of mess for me!), but we don’t have enough land to properly pasture them like you do. They did enjoy daily helpings of hand-cut edible weeds from around the fencelines etc too.

  • arakelian said:

    suggestion from my grandma: keep a female, and with the help of the vet, she gives 4-8 pigs, 2 times on a year. If they are too many for you farm, you can sell the small pigs. My grandma sells allways the old female to the abatoire. In plus, to feed, another solution from her part: contact a small restaurant. Every evening they have a extra food not used – for this you should have time to pass every day, and to collect in closed boxes. My grandma uses to feed, too, with vegetales exceses from the garden: pumkins, corns, potatoes, etc. , and in the autumn, she gives freedom in the garden, to eat, and to dig.

  • Darren (author) said:

    Hi Arakelian, thanks for the comments! It’s not legal here in Australia to feed restaurant leftovers to pigs. I was able to pick up unsold bread from a bakery once a week though (there are lots of other people about who want it as well!). I’d love to have a breeding sow, but we don’t really have enough space to commit and the feed costs would be pretty high.