Bacon. Hot dogs. Ham. Sausages. What would an American meal be without some sort of pork sizzling on the barbeque? America loves pork. We’re the world’s largest producer, and the sixth largest consumer of pork products. Pig farmers in America make 22 billions pounds of pork every year. While the pork industry is booming, pigs do come with their own unique set of expenses that can add up. Whether you’re new to raising pigs or you’re already a pork pro, these tips will help you save money on one of the fastest growing livestock sectors in America.
Consider Raising Feeder Pigs
Feeder pigs can be a great way to fill your fridge with meat while slashing costs. Feeder pigs are bought at around eight weeks old and raised on a soft deed or grower pellet for around four to six months. This is especially cost effective if you are raising pigs for meat for your family instead of to sell. If you are looking to make a profit off of your pigs, here is a quick run-down of some other pig types:
- American Yorkshire Pig. These pigs produce lean meat that is ideal for bacon. They also have a reputation for producing large litters. More piglets for you!
- Berkshire Pigs. Farmers love these pigs for their easy-going nature. They grow up to six hundred pounds on average, meaning the meat-per-pig ratio for these porkers is out of this world.
- Spotted Pigs. There is something about this pig’s meat that people can’t get enough of. That might be why this breed has been around forever. They can grow up to be anywhere between five and six hundred pounds.
- Duroc Pig. These pigs wean at an earlier age than most, making them perfect to sell as feeder pigs or piglets.
Make Your Own Feed
Pig feed can be expensive, especially if you are raising multiple pigs. One way farmers can cut costs is by making their own feed. Pigs are notorious for eating whatever is put in front of them, but just because they aren’t picky eaters doesn’t mean they should be eating garbage. Try mixing together corn, wheat, calcium and protein supplements, sorghum, and skim milk powder for a healthy pig meal that won’t break the bank. You should adjust the percentages of the different foods based off the age and weight of the pigs.
Free Range Pigs
If you have a pasture on your property, you can whittle your feed cost down to almost zero. The practice of letting pigs rummage for food was much more common in the 20th century but went out of popularity when regulations and special feeds came into play. Many pig farmers say the flavor of free-range pigs is some of the best they’ve ever had. If you have a pasture that has plenty of acorns, oats, wheat, roots, bulbs, grass, and other crops that pigs like to eat, you might be able to raise free range pigs. Be sure to do a walk-through of the land at least once a week to get rid of any garbage that might land on your property though.
Breed Your Pigs
There’s a huge market for people looking to buy feeder pigs and piglets. If you are making good money off the few you already have, consider breeding your healthiest sow to make some extra money. Healthy piglets and feeder pigs can bring in anywhere from fifty to a few hundred dollars.
If you have a healthy uncastrated boar, you can rent him out to other farmers and collect a portion of the profits.
Butcher Your Own Meat
This suggestion isn’t for the faint of heart (yours truly included). However, if you’re not bothered by the sight of blood, you could be saving a fair amount of money. Many butchers cost a pretty penny and can rack up bills anywhere from fifty to one-hundred and fifty dollars.
Pork is a booming industry in America, and experts say it’s only going to get bigger. According to a report from the USDA, the value of U.S. pork exports has more than doubled since 2006. While pigs do come with their own set of comebacks (their smell is anything but daisy fresh), they can be a great way to bring extra cash flow to your property. We hope these tips will help you make more money off of pigs while spending the least amount of cash.
Laura Barker is a Marketing Assistant Intern for the REALTORS® Land Institute. She graduated from Clark University in May 2017 and has been with RLI since October 2017.