Lebanon Crop Management Video

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10 January 2014

Purchasing a Pig from a farm to the Freezer

Del Voight- Penn State Extension
I do not have a degree in Animal Science but I have been raising pigs for about 15 years now mostly for 4-H purposes for my 3 children.   We normally butcher for my family, but occasionally market to local folks if we have extra.  I put this letter together to assist in describing what takes place from the Farm to the freezer.
        There are many cross breedings of pigs  We buy our pigs locally of a Hampshire/York cross breeding (very common cross) and moved to our Farm. Crossings with a Berkshire would be preferred but we do not have access to alot of those crossings in my area.  The pigs  are fed a diet of 70% corn and 25% soybean meal the other 5 % is mineral pack. They were wormed for internal parasites(round worms, pin worms, tape worms) and to prevent trichinosis (still need to properly cook meat but not as critical as if they were without this type of husbandry) this management tactic is required due to the fact that the pigs access soil outside and are subject to these pests.  .  They had a light rate of antibiotic in their feed to prevent coccidiousis  diarrhea  at levels the USDA, FDA and EPA approved for use. The pigs are housed in a open Virginia Style Shed that allows the pigs access to the outside and housing supplied to inclement weather with heat lamps and full feed and water 24/7.  They are happy! 
Here is what will occur with your involvement in the process.   A check will need to be submitted payable to  the Farm  for the purchase of the  pig. The fair market value will be determined by current prices from local sales by the farm by using digital scales to determine the live weight. These pigs should weigh about 260lbs which will be the weight for comparison to give one an idea of the cost.  Current Board of trade market price is @$ .85/lb live weight for the pig.  This would equate to $221 per pig. The pigs reside at our Farm so the we will haul the pig to to the processor for $25.00 per pig which will be included in the price for the pig. At this point a buyer would have the following payable to just get the pig. Keep in mind you could go to a livestock auction and also pick up a pig there but you would then need to transport your purchase to a processor.
Pig   $221
Hauling $25.00
Sub Total due to Farmer $246
Once the pig arrives at the  Processing facilities you will have full control on how you would like the pig processed into packages and will pay the processor directly for whatever you decide to get processed.  Be sure the processor is USDA certified and is a clean professional operation.  You will need to direct the manager of the processing center  on how you would like it completed by simply filling out the online form in most cases or small sheet of paper  (you can also stop in a talk to him or call him) Freeze and wrap will result in a store bought package look and easily  stored and sized for your family.  For instance we have 5 in our household so we have chops cut to 3/4 inch and other cuts placed into groups of 5 in a package. Here is a relative amount of the different cuts you would expect from a market pig.
With a market weight of 250 pounds and yield of 73.6 percent, the typical hog will a produce a 184-pound carcass. The carcass will yield approximately 140 pounds of pork and 44 pounds of skin, fat, and bone.

Ham - 45 pounds, 24 percent of the carcass
25.5 pounds of cured ham, 2.3 pounds of fresh ham, 5.8 pounds of trimmings and 11.4 pounds of skin, fat, and bone
Side (Belly) - 34.9 pounds, 19 percent of the carcass
19 pounds of cured bacon, 5.8 pounds of spareribs, 9.1 pounds of trimmings and 1 pound of fat
Loins - 33.8 pounds, 18 percent of the carcass
3.2 pounds of backribs, 10.7 pounds of boneless loin, 7.6 pounds of country-style ribs, 5.7 pounds of sirloin roast, 1.6 pounds of tenderloin, 1.6 pounds of trimmings and 3.4 pounds of fat and bone
Picnic - 16.6 pounds, 9 percent of the carcass
12.6 pounds of boneless picnic meat and 4 pounds of skin, fat, and bone
Boston Butt - 14.7 pounds, 8 percent of the carcass
4.4 pounds of blade steaks, 7.8 pounds of blade roast, 1.7 pounds of trimmings and 0.8 pounds of fat
Miscellaneous - 39.2 pounds, 22 percent of the carcass
15.4 pounds of jowls, feet, tail, neck bones, etc., 22 pounds of skin, fat, and bone and 1.8 pounds of shrink and miscellaneous loss
Source: National Pork Producers Council
You should realize that a live weight hog weighing 260lbs will net about 60%-70% this would equate to about 156lb-184lb  of meat hanging (after entrails taken out) and once the bone removed and cut into market cuts you will end up with about 117-143 lbs of meat in the freezer from one pig. This would require about 2.5-3 cu feet of freezer space.  In our family we go through about 3 pigs a year.   Here are some costs to consider.   Typically, the total cost for the pig cut wrapped and frozen would be about  $80.00 dollars depending on how much processing you get ordered. In addition to the kill and cut charge of $60.
Expect to pay the Processor the following
Wrap and Freeze                                $80.00 
Kill and Cut                                        $60.00
Special needs                                      $60.00
Sub Total  due to Processor                 $200.00



At the end of the day you will end up paying  @ $446 for about 117lbs -143lbs of meat  which you will pick up directly from the Processor when they call you that is ready and haul to your freezer. This equates to about  $3.81/lb for all cuts of pork, roasts, 2 hams, bacon etc.  If you were to go to the store you would find these cuts at all different prices. For instance we checked on bacon last week and it was  $8.90/lb( remember look on package for per lb not package costs the will normally package in 10-12 ounce packages not 16 and the price will seem lower.) There are some cuts in the store that might be cheaper but I want you to be aware of that it is difficult to tell you this is a cheaper or more expensive way to secure your meat.
Keep in mind and consider that all of this will be slightly or majorly different in reality since the pigs might be slightly larger or smaller than 260lb, they might vary in the fat cover, you might select all little porkies and cheese for 3.25/lb etc. You can save money if you choose to wrap and freeze etc but in our experience it is worth the cost to have them shrink wrap and flash freeze. One final caveat you get the whole pig so if you would like the tongue, stomach an other parts(pig feet for pets etc) you can get it or simply leave that out.
So what are my kids making on this transaction?  Not much
We purchased the pigs for $100.00 and we have $100.00 worth of feed and about $25.00 in hauling the little pigs to the farm and hauling them to the Butcher.  So we stand to lose a little on this wager. Sure we could charge more but you could walk into the Processor tomorrow and get one there for 425 out the door so we are trying to be as fair as possible to our friends while recouping our costs. This does not represent the daily care the kids put into cleaning pens and cleaning waterers and electric for heat lamps etc. It is easy to see why a Commercial Operation needs to raise thousands of pigs in order to be economical.


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