Raising meat pigs is fun, but there are some considerations to keep in mind before you get started.
Before you start, you’re going to want to know what you’re getting yourself into. Learning how to raise a pig in your backyard (or two) can be fun. While raising meat pigs isn’t exactly strenuously difficult, it isn’t easy either. So, make a plan you can manage. Stick to that plan for success.
Ok, here are more considerations before you start raising pigs for meat. They include limitations you might be faced with as well as some decisions you’ll need to make through your journey of raising your own pork.
Can You Raise Meat Pigs on your Property?
This depends on where you live. If you own a place in the country and you have room, then you’re almost all set to go.
But, if you live within city limits, there might be ordinances to follow. Check with your local regulations before you receive the pigs to be sure you can even have them on your property.
Having room on your property for pigs is ideal. Pigs need enough space and you need enough space from the pigs. There’s no need for them to suffocate you, especially if you can’t handle the smell.
The thing to remember about pigs: They are cute and cuddly when they are little. But, they will soon be 300 pounds of stubborn stench. Know what you’re going to be getting into before you jump into raising meat pigs.
Breeds of Pigs
Just about any breed of pig will work for a meat pig. Here are a few of the most popular homestead pig breeds chosen to be raised for meat:
- Heritage Pigs
- American Yorkshire pig
- Chester White pig
- Hampshire pig
- Duroc pig
- Crossbred Yorkshire and Hampshire pig
The crossbreds is what we raise most often. We appreciate the best of both breeds when the two are crossed. But pork breeds are really just an opinion. Raise whatever you’d like and also what is best for your local area.
The next section is a lot more important. Because pig raising basics begins with keeping the pigs healthy and safe.
Healthy & Safe Environment
Despite the mud, pigs are actually very clean animals. They go to the bathroom in a corner of their pen away from their sleeping spot. They lay in the mud to keep cool because they don’t sweat. Pigs are very smart.
Healthy pigs require space, fresh food they have access to all the time and clean water. In the Summertime, they need to have a way to cool off from the heat.
Pigs love to play. Put some toys into their pen, such as ball they can push around. They will root the ground with their snout looking for snacks. It’s just what they do. They are pigs.
With that said, be sure they are in a safe place. The best way to keep them safe is to pen them up in very sturdy fencing.
The other main health consideration for pig care and management is to make sure your pigs have the best nutritious diet you can offer to them. Whether your pigs are grain-fed or grass-fed, pigs need nutrition to grow and perform.
Ya know, the best thing about raising your own pork is that you can control what they eat. But, there are some guidelines when it comes to pig nutrition.
Pigs are omnivores, meaning they are both vegetarians and carnivores. They can be pasture-raised or grain-fed but there are some requirements.
They require a good protein diet free-choice and plenty of fresh water. Water is super important, especially in the Summer time. They also enjoy treats, such as table scraps and produce remains from time to time.
If there are no time restraints for when you need the pigs, then pasture-raised pigs are a great option. It will take the pasture-raised pigs to be ready for slaughter. They may even never make it.
So, how much to feed a pig? We have always just fed our pigs as much as they want!
Pigs raised on a good self-serve protein diet will be ready to harvest in at least seven months. So, it really depends on how you want to raise your pigs and what the time restraints are for when you need the pork in your freezer.
Another factor involves the economics of raising pigs. Can you afford it?
Raising meat pigs may not be a money maker for you, but you should definitely want to avoid going broke raising meat pigs. It’s completely possible to keep costs down. You may or may not be saving much by raising meat pigs. The goal should be to break even on this project so you can keep doing it year after year.
So, how much does it cost to raise a pig? It highly depends on inputs:
- Vet Care
Have a budget and stick to it. Make a list of all your expenses and know how much you can input into this project. Your income is not monetary, but it’s the meat you’ll receive in your freezer. You can balance your expenses by selling some of the meat, either a half or whole hog.
Before that, though, you can cut production costs down in a few ways.
One way to keep those costs down includes keeping the feed cost low. Know what nutrients pigs need to grow and thrive. Figure out what local products are grown in your area. Buying local is usually a great way to keep costs down.
Buy local feeds or pasture raise. Using your own resources you already have will keep input costs down. The most important thing to remember is to meet the pigs’ needs. But you also must meet those needs in a possible way. In a way YOU as the caretaker can afford it within your beliefs.
Another way to keep costs down is to keep pigs safe and healthy. Veterinary costs can wreck havoc on your budget. Meet the pigs’ needs and you won’t need to worry about vet costs because your pigs will be healthy.
Finally, save on processing costs. You could harvest the pigs yourself. This is a great skill to learn for you and your family.
Knowing how your pork was raised is winning. Enjoyment is fulfilled when the freezer is full of farm fresh pork.
Pig Harvesting Options
So after many days of caring for your pigs, they will one day be ready to harvest. How will you go about it?
Well, there are essentially two options:
- Learn to butcher your pigs yourself.
- Or make an appointment with the local butcher shop.
If you butcher your pigs yourself, I suggest you find a mentor to help you. Here’s 3 easy steps to finding a mentor to help you succeed in your endeavor.
But, honestly, it is perfectly fine to hire the local guy to do it for you. We use a local family owned butcher shop and are quite happy with the results. Again, you have two great choices and you can really do as you please.
All I ask is that you enjoy the process of caring for your pigs.
Enjoy Raising Meat Pigs
Making memories is the best part of raising meat pigs. Pigs are an enjoyable species to have on your homestead. As smart as they are, they have fun personalities that are out of this world.
They are fun to care for each day. But, it’s important to make sure you can afford to meet their needs. Track expenses, use local products and resources, and provide them the best care they could ever ask for.
Although they are a joy to have, their purpose in life is to provide food for us. We can provide them the best life most comfortable possible until they reach their max. The optimal weight range for a finished pig is 275-300 pounds. Once they reach this point, they provide a fresh and delicious protein for every member of the family.
~ Much Love ~
If you enjoyed this post about raising meat pigs, check out some of my other pig posts: