So, What’s the Average Market Pig Weight? 

If you’re raising any animal to slaughter for meat, you already know that timing is everything. This is especially true for pigs.

pig next to old stone rocks
pig next to old stone rocks

From birth and farrowing to final finishing, you need your pigs to pack on the pounds and be ready for market by a certain age if you want to maximize profits and also quality. This is a tricky business, and it’s one that most people only learn after a fair bit of experience.

But we’ve got to have our eye on the target in order to do well. So, what is the market weight of a pig on the market?

The average market weight of a pig is 280 pounds, plus or minus a couple. This will result in maximum carcass yield and a huge gain in efficiency when it comes to slaughtering and processing.

The vast majority of the pork products you see for salle came from pigs that were this weight when they were harvested. And this isn’t just some arbitrary number that is set without a good reason, or an average that is culled from statistics and not really informative.

There are a lot of whys behind this 280-pound figure, and I’ll tell you what they are and a lot more down below.

Why are Pigs Sold at a Specific Weight?

Hogs are sold at this specific weight in order to maximize efficiency, and that means maximizing profits. The 280-pound figure produces a pig with a typical carcass yield of about 210 pounds, meaning usable meat after all of the non-edible or non-desirable parts are removed.

This figure also produces an animal that is relatively easy to handle and transport compared to much larger hogs, which can weigh several hundred pounds more, and this target weight can be attained in a relatively short period of time with proper feeding, care, and procedures, on average about 17 weeks from birth.

This target weight is good for hog farmers, good for processors, and good for the economy, and so it is the de facto standard.

Can Pigs Be Sold if They Are Under Market Weight?

Yes, they can. Sometimes, they are! There is no rule that says a pig that doesn’t quite meet the 280-pound target benchmark cannot be sold at market and slaughtered.

Some won’t ever weigh that much in the first place, and pigs that are born and then taken to market in different seasons typically suffer from” shrink,” meaning they simply don’t gain as much weight with all other circumstances and conditions being the same.

Are They Ever Sold When Over Market Weight?

Absolutely. Likewise, larger pigs, and sometimes much, much larger pigs, are also sold and slaughtered.

Naturally, assuming that they’re at a healthy weight, the resultant yield will be proportionally bigger, but this isn’t a linear graph most of the time. These massive hogs tend to be fattier than smaller ones resulting in less usable meat or cuts with excess fat.

Likewise, regardless of the breed, it’ll take much, much longer for any pig to attain this lofty weight, meaning they will require a lot more food, more time, and more effort from the farmer.

Does the Breed Make a Difference?

Of course! Not all pigs are created equal, and even among the major meat breeds like Hampshires, Berkshires, and Durocs, their maximum weight can vary considerably. Some of these monsters can reach a scale-busting 1,000 pounds or more!

Then, at the other end of the spectrum, you have small pigs that will never, ever attain the typical market weight mentioned unless they are horrendously, morbidly obese.

Mini pigs, for instance, rarely weigh more than 100 pounds, as do the Vietnamese pot-bellied pigs. They usually max out around 150.

How Much Do Pigs Weigh at Birth?

It’s hard to believe that a pig will reach that market weight in 17 short weeks when you consider that most are born weighing just two to three pounds.

These tiny, precious little piglets have big appetites, though, and will grow with remarkable speed especially when handled properly and given a good diet.

How Long Does it Take a Pig to Reach the Ideal Market Weight?

On average about 17 weeks, or 120 days. That’s how long it takes for a pig to reach the market weight after birth.

For the first 3 weeks, a pig will feed on milk and a little bit of creep feed before moving on to a steady diet of solid food, slowly and surely getting more daily from week to week until the final push to finishing, a process that takes place anywhere from 4 to 6 weeks prior to slaughter.

How Much Will a Pig Need to Eat Per Day to Gain Enough?

It varies depending on the age of the pig and their progression. A young adolescent pig that’s in the nursery phase eats anywhere from 1 ½ to 4 pounds of food a day, but this will increase steadily as they put on ever more weight.

Pigs will eventually eat between six and 10 pounds of food every day, maybe more, during the growing and finally the finishing phase.

How Much Food Does it Take Total to Get a Pig to Market Weight?

Depending on the program, the breed of the pig, other health factors, and the type of food, it will take anywhere from 550 to 800 pounds of food in total to get them to the 280-pound target weight so they are fit to slaughter or go to market.

That’s a remarkable amount of food per animal, and you should remember that a healthy sow will give birth to anywhere from 11 to 13 pigs in a litter. A healthy herd will have multiple sows having multiple litters.

Do the math, and you can see that you’ll literally need many, many tons of food in order to get a herd to the market in good shape!

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