Raising your own livestock for food is an incredible experience. It’s one of the many reasons so many folks live the country lifestyle. Whether you live on a farm, ranch, or suburban homestead where hogs are allowed, raising your own pigs can be great for the kids, teach you a thing or two about sustainability and time management, and fill your freezer. Here are a few things to know as you plan ahead to raise your own pigs for meat.
Put Your Pigs to Work
Yes, you need to feed your pigs every day, but you can put them to work in your pasture and garden too. Fencing off an area and allowing pigs to root in your overgrown, weed-filled garden is a great way to get it ready for a late spring planting.
Watch their Weight
Depending on the breed of pig you bring home, your hog could grow to upwards of 500 pounds. See our recent article on Picking the Right Breed of Pig. However, you don’t want to let your hogs grow to their full potential. The optimal weight for meat in most breeds is around 200 pounds. Anything more than that and you’ll simply be adding fat instead of meat. Additionally, pigs that get to be too large can become dangerous, as they can take down fencing and possibly hurt other livestock or people.
Food and Water Intake
To optimize a pig’s growth and your expense, try the following food chart. Be sure to consult your veterinarian or the folks at Coastal for the proper mix of protein and other ingredients for best results as well as a happy and healthy pig.
Additionally, be sure they get enough water. A growing pig needs 2.5 gallons of water for every pound of feed. If you have a lactating sow, they’ll need more water – upwards of 4-6 gallons per day.
Quick and Sustainable
Hogs grow fast. In just four months, you can go from a piglet to a full-grown, ready-to-be-butchered pig that will grace your kitchen table for months. Additionally, they’re sustainable. Along with bags of nutrient balanced feed, your pigs can eat leftover table scraps, old produce from the local market, as well as leftover milk if you have your own cows. Nothing goes to waste when you have pigs.
Plan the Slaughter
Before your pigs reach the ideal weight, do your research into places that can slaughter and butcher your pigs. We’ve covered some of the basics in our article Livestock Butchering Options, which includes USDA guidelines. You can even do the work yourself. Just be sure to slaughter on a colder day, between 40-50º F. If you butcher in the fall, this shouldn’t be a problem throughout much of the Northwest. Just be sure it’s not freezing. You don’t want the meat to freeze as it hangs for 12-24 hours before heading off to the butcher for processing or smoking.
You’ll Find Pig Answers at Coastal
When you’re ready to fill your freezer with bacon, sausage, pork steaks and chops, ham, brats, and even lard that you raised yourself, you’ll find the feed, fencing, medications, and advice you need at your Northwest owned and operated Coastal. Stop by and tell us what you plan to raise and our folks will share what they know and point you in the right direction.