Have you ever wondered if raising pigs is actually profitable? I mean, most of us know someone who raises pigs even if we only know them tangentially or by reputation.
And, of course, we know that pork is extremely popular, because there is no shortage of products in every single grocery store.
The more you think about it, the easier it is to start believing that you might be missing out on a good gig. So, is it actually profitable to raise pigs?
Yes, done correctly with an eye for efficiency, raising pigs is definitely profitable. The profit from a pig can be anywhere from $100 to $450 per head, depending on whether or not you’re selling the pig for breeding or meat, and if you are processing it.
It certainly sounds like a good deal to me considering how quickly pigs grow, and more importantly how quickly they reproduce!
But like any business, you’ve got to know the ins, outs, and details of raising pork for any purpose if you want it to be profitable.
Go into it half-cocked, and you might be facing a boondoggle that will bankrupt you. Keep reading and I’ll tell you everything you need to know…
Pigs are a Huge Business Around the World
Before we go any further, it’s worth pointing out that pork is an absolutely gargantuan business worldwide. How big? How about more than $240 billion dollars big? Yes, that is billion with a B.
In fact, pigs are by capital the most popular livestock kept for meat around the globe, and many countries do a brisk business in exporting pork, particularly the United States and China.
Obviously, this business wouldn’t be there if pork was not crazy popular, and accordingly it’s more than possible for you to make a small mint if you break into the pork business like so many others have before you, and continue to!
You Can Definitely Make Money Selling Pigs for Meat
The first and most obvious business avenue for raising pigs is for pork. That is their number one product, of course.
Pig milk is not fit for human consumption, and pigs don’t lay eggs. They can provide leather, but their flagship product is their meat.
If you play your cards right and run your operation sharply with an eye towards minimizing expenses, you can profit anywhere from $200 to $400 per head when selling a pig for meat.
There is a significant variation when it comes to the size and quality of a pig, and also other expenses must be factored in, but this shakes out to anywhere from $2.50 to $4.00 per pound, profit, generally.
It is simple math to figure out how much profit you could be pocketing simply by multiplying that estimate by the size of your herd that you are selling or slaughtering.
But like I mentioned above, the devil is definitely in the details, and you’ll need to count every last one of them before you decide to pull the trigger on a pig farm.
Your Profits Will Be Determined by the Nature of Your Operation
When most people imagine raising pigs to be slaughtered for their meat, they typically think of an operation that is completely “vertically oriented”.
This means one where you own the sows that give birth to a litter of pigs which you then feed and raise to a suitable weight before slaughtering them, processing them and selling their pork before repeating the process with the next litter.
That’s definitely one way to do it, but it’s not the only way to do it! That type of operation is what is known as farrow-to-finish farming.
If you don’t have the space, time or wherewithal to do that, you have other options, and they might even be more profitable if you are a sharp businessman.
Want it popular vector for raising pigs as was known as farrow-to-nursery.
You’ll breed pigs and then raise them until they are around 50 pounds, what are commonly referred to as feeder pigs, and then sell those adolescent pigs to farms it will finish feeding and raising them until they are ready to be slaughtered. No fuss, no muss!
Another similar option is raising them until the piglets are only just weaned, referred to as weaner pigs, and then selling them off.
These smaller, live pigs might only net you $50 or $60 a head, but remember that your investment is a whole lot less, too!
You can also do the inverse: skipping the breeding and buying your own piglets that you can feed and raise to finishing weight before slaughtering them.
These are all viable methods for profiting from pigs, and depending on the specifics of your local market, your property, your resources, and your skillset, one or more of them might be the ideal profit vector for you.
Live Pigs Also Provide Other Avenues for Profit
If you just aren’t down with the idea of slaughtering your pigs, for whatever reason, or selling them to be slaughtered, there are other ways to make money with them.
If you have a particularly healthy lineage in your herd, you might sell breeding services, either boars or sows, to other farmers.
This is usually a much tidier operation although far less profitable overall unless you are carefully positioned in a perfect market.
But, all you’re really concerned about is keeping your pigs happy and healthy until their services are required which is a lot less stressful for most people.
You might also use your pigs as a natural tilling and fertilization service, renting them out to process an acreage for others in your community…
Pigs will make short work of anything that grows above or below the ground once they’ve been kept there for a time, and combined with their droppings this can easily enhance soils that are compacted or thatched with undesirable growth.
You Must Perform a Feasibility and Business Analysis Before You Invest
So that’s all of the good news about raising pigs for profit. How about the bad news?
One of the biggest parts of success in life is just avoiding the obvious pitfalls and landmines that are waiting for you. Consider the following before you invest in pigs…
1. Pigs Need Lots of Room to Thrive
Pigs, for their size, need a lot of room to graze and roam if they are going to thrive.
Pigs that are kept on rich, open pasturage that can be properly managed will require considerably less supplemental feed in order to grow big and healthy, and this will help you keep costs down.
Your pigs themselves will also be healthier than they would if they were kept confined most of the time…
But land, of course, is a significant expense all on its own and probably the biggest expense if you don’t already have it.
2. Feed Costs Can Be Deal-Breakers
This ties in with the previous issue. Pigs eat a lot. An awful lot, and they’ll need to be eating more or less constantly if they’re going to grow to a suitable weight for slaughtering and also produce the high-quality, delicious pork that your customers will want.
You can significantly reduce these feed costs with the aforementioned pasture, but if your pigs are kept confined, or if your pasture is of low nutritional value, your pigs are going to need more food. Lots!
Feed costs are typically the biggest expense associated with the raising of pigs assuming you already have the land, and might account for as much as a 75% of your overall expenditure.
3. Don’t Forget to Account for Healthcare
Healthcare is yet another expense that is commonly overlooked by beginners to business.
Thanks, like all living things, only medicine, vaccination, supplements, checkups and a lot more in order to stay home.
Some folks have the idea that, just because of pigs just lay around in the mud all the time, they are somehow immune to germs, but that’s hardly the case.
Pigs are also particularly vulnerable to various communicable diseases, such as the different swine flu strains, which can wipe out a herd easily- particularly one that is kept in close quarters.
And don’t forget that even if your pigs survive such an infection, it might mean they’re no longer suitable to be sold and must instead be destroyed profitlessly!
4. Pigs are Also a Lot of Work
And one more thing to bear in mind is that pigs, more than some other livestock species, require a lot of work and attention.
If you are a solo-preneur working on your small pig farm, you’re going to be putting in long days every single day.
Naturally, you might need help in the endeavor and this help is going to cost you unless it is one of your own kids or your spouse.
Keep in mind that this time requirement is an opportunity cost of its own, though the actual expense of it will depend on your lifestyle and your objectives.
Tom has lived and worked on farms and homesteads from the Carolinas to Kentucky and beyond. He is passionate about helping people prepare for tough times by embracing lifestyles of self-sufficiency.