Do you want to raise your own pork? The idea of knowing what went into the animal sounds enticing, doesn’t it?
If it sounds wonderful to you because you also reconsider everything you put in your body, then consider raising a feeder pig. A feeder pig is a young pig (only around 8 weeks old) which you purchase and raise for 4-6 months until it reaches a good size to slaughter.
With this meat, you could fill your freezer and have enough pork to hold you and your family over until the next year to raise another one.
However, there are some necessities to raise this pig, some expenses, and skills and ideas which can save some money in this process too.
Here is how we’re raising our feeder pigs on a budget this year:
1. Why Raise a Feeder Pig?
Many people assume if you want to raise pork, you must have a breeding pair of pigs to start with. You could do this. However, if you don’t want the hassle of raising pigs year-round, you could skip the overwintering process and purchase a feeder pig (or how many pigs you need) and raise the pork for around4-6 months and call it done.
I had a breeding pair of pigs a few years ago and raised quite a few pigs. Truthfully, I didn’t enjoy them very much. I’ve learned many tricks to the trade since then, but I’m better with the idea of only having pigs on my property for half a year or less instead of the whole year.
Realize, I do spend money on purchasing feeder pigs, but it’s worth it to me. If you choose to take the feeder pig route, be prepared to spend anywhere from $25-$100 on each pig. The prices vary greatly depending on where in the world you live in.
This year, I was able to purchase 3 feeder pigs for $25 each.
2. Where do I Find Feeder Pigs?
When my husband and I first decided to take the feeder pig route, we did a lot of research. The last time we had pigs, I swore I wouldn’t have another because they ate a great deal of food and required massive amounts of work.
However, through our research, I’ve learned tricks which take some of the expense and work out of it. With my new knowledge in my hip pocket, I began searching for feeder pigs.
We have been able to locate feeder pigs through social media rather quickly. Search any online marketplace, yard sale page, or website meant for buying or trading items. You should be able to locate feeder pigs from there easily.
The pigs will be labeled as feeder pigs. Which means they’ll grow into full-size hogs. You don’t need any specific breeds, and the ‘mutts’ are usually less expensive.
Honestly, the central question you should ask is how large are the parents? If they are a good size, your pig should be okay.
Keep in mind; feeder pigs aren’t raised for breeding. They’re meat only. In this instance, the size and health of the pig at the time of purchase are your primary concerns.
3. How to House and Fence Your Pigs
Pigs don’t require crème de la crème housing. In our case, we’ve built a hut for them. It has four posts and a metal roof. This gives the pigs shade when needed and keeps them out of the weather as well.
The most prominent concern is fencing. The first time we raised pigs and kept them year-round, we chose hog paneling instead of electric fencing. This was a huge mistake.
Electric fencing is less expensive, easier to install, and much more effective at keeping your pigs where you’d like them to be.
We have a large pasture where our goats live. We decided to take a corner of our field and separate it for the pigs.
My husband placed the pigs’ pen at the corner where the electric fence is the hottest to make sure the pigs would avoid it.
From there, you only need to put electric fencing around ankle height to your knee. Pigs will use their snout to root around. If the electric fence hits their snout, they’re trained. They have no interest in going near it ever again.
In our case, I made our electric fence 5 strands high. Which is more to deter our goats from coming into the pigpen, than the other way around. They’ve done quite well, living side by side because neither animal has the desire to go near the electric fence.
4. Pig Feed and Feed Storage Techniques
You have multiple options when it comes to feeding your feeder pigs. Your first option is to purchase store-bought pig feed. Prices will vary in your area, but in my area, purchasing store-bought feed will cost around $150 per pig you raise.
Your next feed option should be used with another feeder option, but you can grow a garden for your pigs or feed them garden scraps.
The third option for feeding your pigs should be used with another feeder option as well. It’s a good idea to save all of your leftovers and feed them to your pigs. Not only does this prevent waste, but it helps add to the girth of your pigs.
Finally, you can search social media outlets for people selling old food products. For instance, in our area, we can travel to the next town over and pick up a truckload of old bread products for $25 per truckload.
This year, we’ve found a deal where someone is selling old corn tortillas. They’ll give you a truckload of crushed corn tortillas for $30. We’ve purchased 2 truckloads and have enough food (when mixed with feeding our pigs leftovers, garden scraps, and extra eggs) to sustain them their entire stay.
Along the same lines, you’ll need to consider how you’re going to store all of this food. The upside to purchasing feed from your feed store is you can buy a bag at a time.
However, if you prefer to purchase your feed all at once (like we do), it’s a good idea to buy heavy-duty barrels or trash cans with lids. This will keep water, mice, and rats from eating your feed.
One of the most significant hurdles of feeding pigs is safety and securing the feeder. We cut a barrel in half and used one half as a trough. We secured it with cinderblocks for added weight.
Also, we placed the feeder near the electric fence which encourages the pigs to behave when around it because they don’t want to hit the fence. It has worked quite well for us.
However, as the pigs get bigger, remember they’ll get pushier as well. This is why we’ve made our area, so we don’t have to go in unless we want to. We can unplug the electric fence and access the feeder, water barrel, and even clean the pen from any angle.
Be sure to keep all of these points in mind when planning out your feeder pig area.
5. Medicated vs. Non-Medicated Pig Feed
If you decide to purchase storebought pig feed, you’ll notice there will be two options. One will be medicated, and one should not be. The medicated options are usually more expensive because they’re filled with vitamins and minerals.
However, all pigs don’t need this. If you’re raising pigs in a covered area, on concrete, and they have no access to the outside, they need the boost.
Still, if you’re raising pigs outdoors (whether on pasture or in a pen) they should get the vitamins and nutrients they need from the ground.
In my experience and research, our pigs haven’t needed any additional vitamins, but they’ve been raised where they could root.
6. How to Water Your Pigs
Pigs need water like any other living creature. You could give them a watering trough and fill it up daily if you choose.
In our case, we prefer to work smarter instead of harder. We modified a metal drum by adding a hog water nipple. You can purchase them online or find them at most local feed stores.
From there, we fill up the water drum about once a week. The pigs hit the water nipple with their snout, and they have all the water they need.
7. Which Gender Should You Choose?
One of the most significant decisions you’ll need to make when picking a pig is deciding what gender you want. If you choose a female pig, she won’t grow to be as large which equates to less meat.
However, you don’t have to worry about castrating a female pig either.
Even so, if you do choose to go with a male, realize you’ll get more meat, but if they don’t come castrated, you’ll have to do this yourself.
Most male pigs are less expensive (especially those who don’t come castrated.) We usually go with uncastrated males because they grow to be larger, are less expensive, and neutering them takes very little time.
It’s vital to neuter male pigs because if left intact, their meat can become tainted, and it will also cause more aggressive behaviors in some male pigs.
8. But Don’t Pigs Stink?
The biggest concern most people have with raising feeder pigs is the smell.
Hear this: check local regulations about raising pigs.
It’s important to make sure you follow the rules before raising an animal. It would be terrible to invest in the pigs’ set-up and feed but have to get rid of them because you broke a rule.
However, there are ways to keep the smell of pigs to a minimum. Be sure to clean their pens regularly. If their excrement isn’t left in the pen it shouldn’t smell.
If you are still worried the smell is too much, you can sprinkle lime on the ground to help kill some of the odor.
The good news is pigs are very clean animals. They’ll only use one corner of their pen to use the restroom. You can clean this corner frequently and add lime when needed to kill any remaining odors.
9. One Final Tip
If you’re concerned about raising your pork on a budget, do yourself a favor and learn how to butcher the meat yourself. This is where most of your expense comes in when raising your own pork.
If you learn how to process the meat yourself, you could save close to 50% of the cost to raise them. We butcher our own meat and usually get 600 pounds of meat for less than $200.
Butchering is a process worth learning for those types of savings.