Raising Pigs for Meat

Learn how to raise pigs on your homestead, including instructions on slaughtering, housing and feeding pigs.


| March/April 1970



Cute Piggies

Raising pigs on your homestead is one of the most rewarding tasks — both monetarily and emotionally.


Photo by Fotolia/Janecat

"You can breed the pigs and buy the corn and get on. You can raise the corn and buy the pigs and get on. If you buy the corn and buy the pigs to feed, you haven't got a chance. But, if you breed the pigs and raise the corn, you'll make money." — Louis Bromfield.

Even though this pessimistic little poem's about raising pigs commercially, it has a point that the backyard farmer shouldn't forget: The really profitable way to raise your own pork is to raise and fatten your pigs chiefly with surplus garden products, table scraps and homegrown corn.

The first year we started our plan, we raised two pigs. Because we didn't have many surplus vegetables, we bought about 35 dollars worth of grain per pig. We paid 12 dollars and 50 cents for inoculated seven-week-old pigs in April and had them slaughtered in December when they weighed 285 pounds. The dressed weight (per pig) was 230 pounds. In short, our pork cost 22 cents a pound. Last year it cost around 18 cents.

From this experience, we learned a few important points: For a family of three or four one pig will give quite a bit of meat. Even a 200 pound pig (live weight) will give about 55 pounds of hams and shoulder, 40 pounds of bacon and loin, plus lard, sausage, pigs feet, etc. Two pigs are sufficient for a family of six to eight.

With only three in our family, we made a mistake keeping our pigs until they weighed 300 pounds. After pigs go over 225 pounds their ratio of weight gained to food consumed drops.

We found that if you buy a seven- to 10-weeks-old pig, inoculated, properly weaned fed and cared for, you shouldn't have any trouble raising it. With only three in the family, the amount of table scraps and surplus garden vegetables we had was discouragingly small when fed to two pigs. Incidentally, a pig will do well even if it doesn't get much grain. To keep feed bills down, you should plant a patch of corn or supply extra food scraps or garden or orchard produce. In fact, good pasture, fenced into three lots for rotating will supply 10 to 15 percent of the total food for a couple of pigs.

teresae
3/22/2016 12:05:17 PM

I am surprised at this article. I have come to expect Mother Earth News to have articles that emphasize good farming practices not factory farm practices "Confinement on cement eliminates 'rooting' and racing about. This results in unbelievably fast growth." What is this article on this website! At least flag the article explaining that it is a historical article. I didn't spot the age of the article until I was most of the way through. I want to raise my own meat so animals have a good life before they end up on my table. I am looking for good practices that benefit the life of the animals I plan to raise, not perpetuate practices that treat animals like pieces of machinery.


gru
11/8/2015 11:15:57 AM

I am an absolute novice. I was raised in Tx and since have started a family in Az. We are in the process of buying a new home on 2 acres. I am going to start 2016 buying a inoculated pig to raise for our consumption. I want my children to understand as I do where and how we get our meat. I agree with ya'll respect must be shown to our suppliers of life. I plan to start with a pig a year and the graduate to a head of cattle. But we shall see. I look forward to all your advice as I begin this endeavor. Also to look back in 2 years and wonder why it took me so long to get my head squared again.


remona
5/11/2014 11:49:22 AM

An updated article would be nice.


tymetogro
7/3/2011 3:46:14 PM

Thank you Walter Jeffries I agree with you. I raise feral cross hogs myself...everything needs a touch of humanity.


walter royal
8/22/2008 9:42:58 PM

Mr Jeffries, The commercial hog raising system was developed long before John Hendricks adapted it to be used by the small farm. You should do some research and see what his adaptation begat. I raise hogs and I read this article when it first came out as did several thousand others. I changed some things as I went along and finally arrived where I am today as I am sure others have in the ensuing years. I no longer raise my animals on concrete floors and I don't restrict them to pens except when needed to administer inoculations etc. Even though my feeders and waterers are automatic I go out to see them every day, twice a day, at what would be feeding time to check on them and to let them see that I am still there. They are feeding me and they deserve that respect. Of course there are industrial farms where my style of raising animals would be laughed at but I need to be able to stand at the mirror and look at myself and say "There stands an honorable man".


walter royal
8/22/2008 9:41:44 PM

Mr Jeffries, The commercial hog raising system was developed long before John Hendricks adapted it to be used by the small farm. You should do some research and see what his adaptation begat. I raise hogs and I read this article when it first came out as did several thousand others. I changed some things as I went along and finally arrived where I am today as I am sure others have in the ensuing years. I no longer raise my animals on concrete floors and I don't restrict them to pens except when needed to administer inoculations etc. Even though my feeders and waterers are automatic I go out to see them every day, twice a day, at what would be feeding time to check on them and to let them see that I am still there. They are feeding me and they deserve that respect. Of course there are industrial farms where my style of raising animals would be laughed at but I need to be able to stand at the mirror and look at myself and say "There stands an honorable man".


walter jeffries
7/30/2007 7:38:31 PM

"John Hendricks, who is given credit for developing this method of growing hogs" Wow, what a horrible thing to be known for - jailing pigs in confinement feed lots. This was the start of the whole 'modern' industrial era 'factory farming' which has been so destructive of the environment and of pig genetics. Sad.






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