Many people are leaning more towards sustainability and self-sufficiency.
This means taking charge of your food and where it comes from.
It’s great to see how many people are getting more involved in their food production and the self-reliance of farming.
You may be considering taking your farming skills to the next level by raising feeder pigs for meat production.
If this is the case, you’re likely wondering what the cost is to butcher a pig.
Butchering a pig ranges widely in cost based on the hanging weight of the pig, the types of cut, packaging, and other processing choices. If you want meat in patties, sausages, smoked, or organic, this will increase the cost. On average, it costs anywhere from $1-$6 per pound plus the slaughtering fee.
There are a few factors determining the overall cost to butcher a pig.
Part of this is the actual cost of raising the pig till it reaches market age for it to be slaughtered and butchered.
We’ll go over all the factors and choices you’ll face when it comes time to send the pigs off to be butchered.
How Much Does Butchering A Pig Cost?
If you consider butchering your pigs professionally, you’ll want to know how much it costs.
It is also important to consider the average price of butchering if you decide whether to raise feeder pigs for meat production.
Getting your pig butchered depends widely on a few factors.
The main factor is the hanging weight of the pig.
Since butchering fees are calculated per pound, the overall weight of the pig will largely determine how much it costs.
Other factors include how you want the meat cut and processed.
Special packaging will also increase the price per-pound cost.
It’s beneficial to get a ballpark weight of your pigs to know how much you’ll be paying come butchering time.
Get an estimate by researching how much a typical pig weighs based on its breed, as this tends to vary widely.
In addition to weight, there are other preferences and options for butchering.
These will affect the overall cost per pound.
One of these is the classification of meat.
There are different regulations and guidelines to follow based on how you want the meat certified.
The lowest price point for pig butchering costs is for meat you do not intend to sell.
This is called the “not for sale” tier of pricing.
This typically has the lowest regulations.
The next tier is USDA cuts.
Meat from this level costs a bit more but is suitable for sale.
The most expensive option for meat processing is organic pork.
It costs at least $0.30 per pound more for USDA than not for sale meat, and organic processing will be even higher than the USDA rate.
One of the other significant expenses in butchering a pig is slaughtering.
The fee depends widely on where you live as well. In places like the midwest, there are more facilities for pig butchering, and the costs tend to be lower.
If there are not many slaughterhouses, they tend to cost a bit more as the demand for their services is significantly higher.
Most butchering and slaughterhouses have price charts based on the per-pound rates for different options.
We’ll go over general and average costs to give you an idea, but we recommend looking up exact prices in your area.
Typically, the slaughtering fee is flat based on the animal’s breed.
Cows are typically the most expensive to slaughter, followed by pigs.
The least expensive is usually goats.
Where Do I Get My Pig Butchered?
Once your pigs reach slaughtering age, it’s time to take them to a meat processing facility or butcher shop.
Hopefully, you will have already found a suitable place to process your pig.
If you live in a rural area with lots of meat farms, you’ll likely have many options for meat processing.
If you live in an area with fewer farms, you may have to travel a bit further for butchering.
Unfortunately, this adds to the overall cost of slaughtering and butchering.
It is important to consider the transport fees of taking your pigs to slaughter.
Figure out how far the closest meat processing factories are to you.
This way, you’ll be able to find a livestock transport service and calculate the cost of getting your pigs to the meat processing facility.
It’s also important to make your butchering appointment well in advance, as most places require appointments to be made at least a few months ahead of time.
Some people butcher their pigs at home.
This cuts costs immensely, and you won’t have to set up an appointment.
Many first-time pig owners don’t have the skill or stomach to do this themselves and often hire professionals to do the deed.
Many people find pig butchering to be fairly easy, and if you live far from meat processing facilities, it may be the best option for you.
Those who hunt deer also find it very similar and manageable.
The key difference is the extra equipment necessary to lift the pig.
Pigs weigh upwards of 700+ pounds at their full weights.
This is very difficult to move on your own and will require special equipment to raise and hang the pig.
Difference Options For Butchering A Pig
Before you take your pigs to a meat packing facility, it’s beneficial to research the facility’s different options.
This will give you all the information you need to create options for your budget.
If you plan to sell your meat, it’s also smart to research popular meats in your area.
You don’t want to get all sausages when most people want cured bacon.
Many meat processing facilities post their services and the basic butchering costs per pound for each option they offer.
Don’t be shy to ask for special cuts on your pig.
You raised the pig, and it is your investment.
Make your needs known, so you get exactly what you want from the butcher.
Consider how the costs of different options are added to the base cost.
This means if you want smoked meat and sausage patties processed organically, you’ll need to add each price per pound onto the base price to get your final per pound price.
Getting your pigs processed into sausages usually costs more than other cuts.
Many processing facilities will put the meat in casings for you.
They usually will have an option for sausage seasoning as well.
There are other options to choose from in addition to making sausages out of the pork meat.
If you want the sausages smoked, many facilities will do this.
You’ll also be able to choose whether you want the meat processed at a not-for-sale level, USDA level, or organic level, depending on whether or not they are certified.
Getting the pig meat put into sausages usually costs a bit more at around $2.20 per pound.
Another option for meat processing is patties. If you want the pig meat put into patties, this is another option.
Meat packaging facilities will work with whatever guidelines you give them.
Patties usually cost about $1.00 per pound.
Smoking And Curing
One of the major benefits of raising feeder pigs for meat is the delicious flavor of farm-fresh pork.
Smoking and curing take these flavors to the next level.
Most meatpacking facilities will offer this service for an additional cost.
The additional fee will be added to the base fee of whichever cut you choose for your pig.
On average, smoking and curing cost about $2.10 per pound.
Most facilities have a base type of packaging, including the butchering cost.
However, you may be able to upgrade to certain types of packaging like vacuum-sealed.
This locks in the flavor and preserves the meat better than other forms of plastic wrap.
The additional fee for vacuum sealing is usually around $0.80 per pound.
In some areas, it may be difficult to find a meat packing facility offering services in organic meat processing.
If you find one, you’ll likely discover the higher costs for certified organic.
In places like the MidWest, where there are many different meatpacking facilities, the cost for organic is usually around an additional $0.30 per pound.
USDA meat is processed according to the regulations and guidelines set by the government.
They require a certain level of food safety to take place in the entire process of butchering the pig.
If you plan to sell any meat from your pigs, you’ll need at least USDA-level processing.
Anything less is not suitable for sale.
It costs roughly $0.30 per pound more than not for sale meat.
Not For Sale Meat
Not for sale meat is the least regulated form of meat processing.
If you are not planning on selling the meat, this is acceptable and will save you a bit of money when it comes time to take the pig to get butchered.
If you do not choose any upgrades or options, this is the lowest cost of butchering a pig.
The cost of processing not for sale meat from pigs is usually around $1.00 per pound but tends to be less in areas with more options.
Butchering A Pig At Home
One way to avoid the butchering costs of meatpacking facilities is to do it yourself at home.
It is a bit of a process, but many reports it is easier than they originally thought.
If you are a deer hunter, you have all the skills necessary to successfully butcher a pig.
Having a friend who knows how to butcher a deer may be a valuable teacher in the process.
The process involves hanging the carcass overnight in a freezer.
The next day the carcass will be ready for processing and cutting.
There are certain aspects of at-home butchering you’ll need some skill for.
This includes skinning and gutting the carcass before removing cuts of meat.
Make sure to do your research before carrying out the process.
This way, you’ll become accustomed to various methods and practices to determine which works best for you.
Processing a carcass is an intimidating task for those unaccustomed to these types of farm practices.
It’s best to do as much research as possible before attempting to carry it out on your own.
If you feel confident in your ability to butcher your pigs, you will save a lot of money in costs.
They may not be as professional as cuts from a professional facility, but they are free.
The more you practice the act of processing pig meat, the better you will get.
If you practice just on one pig a season, you’ll soon gain the experience you need to confidently process all your feeder pigs at home.
Cost Of Raising Pigs For Meat Production
Butchering and slaughtering a pig for meat production is an expense in and of itself, but have you considered the cost of raising the pigs?
Most pig farmers slaughter their pigs at around 4-5 months.
Raising your feeder pigs from weaning to slaughter age usually costs about $350.
This price varies based on location as some areas tend to have significantly better prices on commercial feed.
Food is arguably the most expensive part of raising the pig.
You’ll also have to consider the initial cost of the piglet and shelter if you don’t already have an outdoor environment established for your pigs.
Most feeder piglets cost about $100 per pig.
You’ll be able to find some cheaper piglets in areas with a surplus of babies.
In these places, you’ll pay closer to $50 per pig.
If you are specifically seeking a heritage breed or specialty pig for meat production, you may end up paying up to $250 or more per pig.
Once you get your piglet, you’ll face initial vet costs as well.
These consist of neutering or spaying as well as routine shots.
These procedures are usually taken care of in the first four months of the piglet’s life.
The overall cost of raising a pig for meat production ranges depending on various factors but usually averages about $300.
Factors include the cost of feed, veterinary bills, shelter, and the eventual slaughter and butchering.
Check out the full details in our article on the cost of raising pigs.
There are some ways to cut down on expenses:
- Supplement food with table scraps, garden scraps, and foraging. Some pig owners also work out deals with local bakeries to purchase leftover or stale bread in bulk for little to no money. This cuts down on how many pounds of feed your pig will need daily.
- Only raise feeder pigs in the warmer months, where feed costs tend to be lower. Pigs eat more in the winter, so the cost of feeding them rises significantly as the temperature drops.
- Learn to slaughter and butcher at home. This is often the most expensive part of getting meat from your pigs.
How To Determine The Hanging Weight Of The Pig
A per pound fee determines butchering costs.
The weight used to calculate the cost is called the hanging weight.
It is sometimes confusing for those new to raising pigs for meat.
The hanging weight is the weight of the body after scald and scrape.
The insides are removed, and the head is left on.
This is the hanging weight of the pig.
Usually, the hanging weight is about 72% of the bodyweight of the pig at slaughtering time.
Estimating the cost of butchering gets significantly more accurate when you have a close estimate of the hanging weight.
This way, you’ll have a much better idea of the overall cost of different options based on the full weight of meat processed.
How Much Meat Will I Get?
This is a very common question for new pig owners.
Before getting feeder pigs, many people wonder how much meat they get from the pig come slaughter time.
This is an important factor to consider as raising pigs is not cheap.
It is also labor-intensive to haul pounds of feed and fresh water to the pen daily.
It is reasonable for those looking to keep feeder pigs to know how much meat they will get per pig.
Speaking of feeders, check out where to buy feeder pigs.
One of the most obvious factors impacting the overall amount of meat you get is the weight and age of the pig.
Some people like to process their pigs at a younger age as the meat tends to be more succulent and tender.
Others like to wait for the pig to gain mass to get as much meat as possible per pig.
On average, it is fair to expect roughly 57% of your pig’s weight back inedible meat.
The overall weight of pigs varies significantly by breed, but we’ll give you a rough estimate based on a popular meat breed.
The Yorkshire pig is one of the most popular pig breeds in North America.
They are commonly used as feeder pigs for meat production.
At 6 months of age, the Yorkshire pigs reach market age.
At this point, they are roughly 250 lbs.
If you raise Yorkshire feeder pigs until they reach market age, you’ll get approximately 142 lbs per pig when it comes to slaughter.
You will get significantly more meat if you wait for your same Yorkshire feeder pigs to reach maturity.
Usually, pigs reach full maturity at 3 years of age.
Male Yorkshire pigs average between 550-750lbs, which means you will get roughly 313-427 lbs of meat per male adult pig.
Female Yorkshire pigs tend to weigh a bit less at roughly 450-650 lbs and yield about 256-370 lbs of meat.
Making An Appointment For Butchering
If this is your first time raising pigs for meat, you’ve likely never had to deal with making an appointment for butchering.
It is imperative to make these appointments a few months in advance.
This is even more important if you live in an area with a high demand for butchering and meat processing.
If you want to be on the safe side, we recommend contacting the butchering facility before you even purchase your feeder pigs to know when to set up your appointment.
Some farmers prefer to slaughter their pigs at a young age before the winter hits.
This saves them money as pigs tend to get significantly more expensive as the temperature drops.
Younger pigs also yield more tender and succulent meat.
The flavor of young meat goes for a higher price at most markets.
If you plan to butcher your pigs at 6 months or less of age, you’ll need to make the appointment almost as soon as you get your feeder piglets.
This way, you won’t be left feeding and caring for your pigs for extra time.
If you are not as pressed for time when it comes to butchering, you’ll have a bit more wiggle room.
This may make your life easier if you wait for the market age rush to pass.
If you need to transport your pigs, consider this is another important thing.
Most people get their feeder pigs in the spring and slaughter at market age.
This means there is a very busy time for meat processing facilities.
Working outside this window will make your life less stressful but may mean keeping your feeder pigs for a few months longer.
What Size Freezer Do I Need?
Large pigs produce a large amount of meat.
You’ll need to ensure you have adequate space to store the meat after it comes home from the facility.
The last thing you want is your meat to spoil and go rotten because you do not have proper storage.
The basic rule of thumb is to have roughly 1′ cubic foot of freezer space for every 15 pounds of meat.
For a 250 pound pig, you will need roughly 9.5′ cubic feet.
A commercial freezer like this will hold just shy of 5 pigs worth of meat.