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Author Topic: You filthy swine!  (Read 12080 times)

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Offline mike_belben

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You filthy swine!
« on: June 25, 2021, 11:44:25 PM »
So question for the pig farmers. 

 Its easy to find a plethora of opinions on how to raise hogs and how much the global pork commodity market is worth as futures contracts traded on wall street and so forth.  Whats not that easy to find is how to market finished hogs and especially the byproducts for best return.  Reading that certain parts are worth certain amounts does no good if you cant find the buyers.


Im considering an attempt at a spring through fall, high rotation silvopasture forage setup.  No wallows, no overgrazing, overcrowding, corn mashed into the mud, nasty stinky pens... None of that. Minimize supplemental feeding as much as possible.  Overwinter only the breeders.  Obviously seeking to trim costs .. Thats pretty much my identity.. Very few people can rub nickels the way i can.


What i am clueless about is how to market pigs for best returns.  Im sure the brokers and buyers love taking a newbs money just as much as a sawmill loves to yard up a new loggers best timber to flip on down the line themselves.  


Anyway im hoping you guys can smarten me up a bit so as to not get hosed.  I have butchered pigs in the past and if necessary would be willing to register for custom slaughtering.  Have already looked into the regs on all that.   This is all a few years away so ive got time.  Just contemplating.  I have semi access on site and have a CDL so if it paid well enough i could haul a few states away myself. 

How many 250-260lb pigs to make a full truckload?  I know 48k is full weight wise but doubt 185 head fit in a single trailer.
Isaiah 63:10

Offline Southside

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Re: You filthy swine!
« Reply #1 on: June 26, 2021, 12:09:50 AM »
If you haven't look up Joel Salatin, Poly Face Farms.  He can give you all the details you need. Also give strong consideration to buying feeders in the spring and focusing on adding value to them, don't keep the sows over winter.  Let the forage, mast, and forbs be your cash crop and don't try to over winter a critter that may flop over and die the day before it gives birth.  Feeding something that isn't giving back every day is having a pet.  
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Offline Gary_C

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Re: You filthy swine!
« Reply #2 on: June 26, 2021, 02:48:15 AM »
It's a sad fact that success in the Ag commodities markets is dependent on your "access to markets" and not necessarily your efficiency/cost of production. In plain words that means you must grow on fixed contracts with a processor or buy your own protection on the commodity markets or your are going to get screwed. I've seen the days when independent hog producers were trying to peddle their fat hogs up and down the road for $5 a head. Today the independent hog producers on every farm are gone and replaced by contract growers who survive on thin but fixed margins.

Don't count on moving up the food chain by becoming a processor as it's doubtful you will have any success as an intermittent marketer. There aren't many freezers in homes anymore.  

There are a number of my neighbors who are crop farmers plus contract hog or turkey growers primarily for the value of what's left after the animals are gone and the value of that manure/turkey litter is going up as fertilizer prices increase with the cost of gas and oil rising.

The days of walking your money to town are pretty limited now days. 
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Offline SwampDonkey

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Re: You filthy swine!
« Reply #3 on: June 26, 2021, 04:31:15 AM »
Do you live by any good farmers markets? You may be in an area where the butchering is regulated. Guy next door takes meet from hogs and cattle to market and has online sales every week.  The meat is all paid for before he goes to market with it. His meat is butchered at a licensed shop, except his hogs I think. Young family, has that and veggies. Wife and 5 kids has lived off it for 15 years. It's a miracle to me, but it's working for him.

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Offline Don P

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Re: You filthy swine!
« Reply #4 on: June 26, 2021, 07:44:02 AM »
You're not going to legally slaughter and process for sale any meat except chickens, and that exception came from Salatin. Is there a USDA facility with capacity nearby? That is a real problem here. You can sell a customer the pig and they take it to a custom processor for their use, not for sale. 

The majority of our meat does come from the farmers market or connections with people we have made from there, but you are looking for enough people willing to pay a premium over commodity pricing. I can't saw studs for what the big boys can, same logic.

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Offline doc henderson

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Re: You filthy swine!
« Reply #5 on: June 26, 2021, 07:50:38 AM »
Mike maybe you will have to the organic, free range, no hormones or antibiotic route.  This past year about killed some operators when the slaughter houses could not staff, and the overweight pigs were sold for a third of what they normally got.  some as you know, had to dig a big hole and dispose of them.  my BIL is doing that with his cattle operation to get a few more bucks.  they all range together.  he keeps info by the ear tag number.
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Offline mike_belben

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Re: You filthy swine!
« Reply #6 on: June 26, 2021, 07:59:48 AM »
Have watched a good bit of joel salatin and am able to replicate his paddock layouts.  Agree that the real cash crop is 9 months of vigorous sun and the ferocious growth of green matter in high cation soils.  Im good at making topsoil.


My test food plots have produced enough seed to plant the entire place within 2 seasons.  Ive got a seed buffet in a bucket right now.  Winter wheat, perrenial ryegrass, red, white, purple and yellow sweet clover, forage turnips and oats, tall fescue, orchardgrass, centipede grass etc etc.  There is no question i can create a vigorous, erosion proof, lush green paddocks for free.  I can later eliminate anything they reject.

I own enough equipment and can build whatever i lack. Rainwater collection is complete.  Electric fencing will be biggest initial cost, and i think i can do the whole place under $1500.


I have no present access to markets.  Id rather not be a butcher shop but if thats where the real markup is i am not opposed. I enjoy carving meat and it doesnt gross me out.  Soldier fly will compost anything and i can steam and grind bones back into the soil for phosphorus.  Theresnot many things i can make as that end goes.

 This is a major beef region and slaughter dates are nearing 3 years so i cannot do anything requiring usda inspection.. Id lose all control in the waiting list. So cannot sell pig parts into the public food supply at all.


I can theoretically get another business license and register for custom slaughter and then sell my hog to my customer in my paddock and deliver frozen and wrapped parts not for resale, to them for a premium. That is legal.  I have not yet found any clear guideline on the regulations for the facility and its inspections.  That may make it beyond my interest, in reality.  Which puts me back to being a guy trying to find buyers for fat hogs like everyone else.  

Lets face it, im nobody.  The only sale i would make in that case is by being the cheapest seller.  The buyer of a ripe hog isnt gonna get in a 2 year slaughter line. Is he gonna slaughter his own?  Doubtful, if hes man enough to kill his meat hed be growing his own.   So pretty good chance he is someone with access to markets buying the cheapest pigs that his slaughter house is paying for and makingna few bucks yarding pigs instead of trees.  


So thats the circular argument in my head.  The woods are highgraded and earning nothing. the pillhoods are using the woods at night to creep around wherever they want so the electric fence is already on my list.  

If you pull out all the firewood, leave some shade trees and toss out some forage seed collected from one bag of bowstand, add high tensile 12.5 gauge and poof, youre growing meat for nothing.  Unproductive land leases pretty cheap so im not limited by my ownership if its a good model. 

  But you need someone wanting to buy hogs in batches on cue.  Im sure the markets are flooded with sellers come fall when the grass is dropping off. How do you not fall victim to price setters saying 'sorry were full this month'  ?
Isaiah 63:10

Offline mike_belben

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Re: You filthy swine!
« Reply #7 on: June 26, 2021, 08:09:46 AM »
don and doc u guys posted while i was thumb smashing.  But yes to both of your points.  No USDA, and completely free range, no botox, no lipstick.. Clover and turnip green come pick your live clean healthy happy pig smiling in the shade. 
Isaiah 63:10

Offline Southside

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Re: You filthy swine!
« Reply #8 on: June 26, 2021, 08:16:02 AM »
Your ground will need rest periods, likely long periods, or it will go backwards quickly.  Can you raise hogs the way you describe?  Absolutely, but semi loads or anything approaching commodity scale?  Not so sure on that. Direct to customer is the only market that exists for us small guys.  
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Offline doc henderson

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Re: You filthy swine!
« Reply #9 on: June 26, 2021, 08:16:56 AM »
maybe find a group of neighbors that want to butcher, but not raise a hog.  we have little meat processing places in all the small towns around.  It would be small scale but could be a start.  I assume if you are talking trailer loads, you may as well do it like the big guys and minimize labor and costs.  Yoder meats is in an Amish community.  You can get deer processed and labeled not for sale.  They butcher about 10 lambs a month for sale in the retail area.  that is where I get tracheas to practice tracheotomies for our EM group.  3 buck a piece.
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Offline mike_belben

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Re: You filthy swine!
« Reply #10 on: June 26, 2021, 08:21:24 AM »
I do live by farmers markets but am not one who ever goes to such things so i dont know much about them.  I know of a very successful family farm that does very well with a host of fruits veggies beef and pork through farmers markets and custom ordering but theyve got generations of customers and inherited big tracts.  I cant compete with that.

Theres plenty of BBQ and catering.. In time im sure i can ring enough numbers to generate a clientele but thats here and there sales.  It doesnt unload a whole batch in time to avoid overwintering.


To southside.. Feeder pigs are about $100 a pop.  Say i buy 5 of them in spring .. I fear that by fall i am at the mercy of selling with the crowd and downward price trends trying to beat winter.   Few months later another $500.  


I dont know if thats any better than feeding one sow and one boar over winter. I dont have the experience to quantify what it costs to feed a pair of 400 pounders.

Guy i used to help when i was a teen had his breeding pair 4 or 5 winters and that was in massachusetts. 4 litters isnt a few grand saved in not buying feeders?  I dunno.  In doing some research i came across a fancy family pig farm story that serves nashvilles high end restaraunts.  They keep their breeding stock for life.  Seems all my beef buddies do too. One stud and all the mommas.  Sell feeders at around 700 pounds by the truckload.

Feeds $230ish a ton. Hay is $35 a roll, corn is $8.50 a sack.  Obviously winter is pretty mild.  Hoop house full of kale, turnip and rutabega greens will go all winter here. I know some hippies that have a crop at all times.
Isaiah 63:10

Offline moodnacreek

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Re: You filthy swine!
« Reply #11 on: June 26, 2021, 08:34:08 AM »
All I can say is that living in the sticks [where I always wanted to be and once was] takes you away from the money and the fools who pay double for everything especially fads. I can make a little $ with what I can do at home only because of them. Agriculture is a program where you give it everything you have so Americans can buy it cheap.

Offline mike_belben

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Re: You filthy swine!
« Reply #12 on: June 26, 2021, 08:43:26 AM »
youre right about that doug.  I will say the Lord has been good to me.  I am usually pretty willing to work for nothing and He usually sends me customers who are happy to overpay.  

Dickerers dont really bother me either.. They just dont leave with my stuff. Ive got time to chat them back to the gate with a smile.  
Isaiah 63:10

Offline mike_belben

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Re: You filthy swine!
« Reply #13 on: June 26, 2021, 08:48:44 AM »
Your ground will need rest periods, likely long periods, or it will go backwards quickly.  Can you raise hogs the way you describe?  Absolutely, but semi loads or anything approaching commodity scale?  Not so sure on that. Direct to customer is the only market that exists for us small guys.  
Absolutely agree. The semi loads part could only evolve if the lease part does too.  Firewood business has to get tuned in first and thats why first run of pigs is a few years out. 

Firewood only cutting puts me in worthless unproductive nearby highgrades, never further than i can ride a quad.  So that gives me the chainsaw and control of the layout that suits me best.  Hmm. Property line here, paddock divisions here, maple tap row here, service roads here and here.   I can carve it into something thats ready for me to lease.  And no i dont mean doing this secretively. 


Im dreaming up an easily replicated, scaleable model where each component serves the other component. Firewood, syrup, meat and farm plates, tax exempt stamp etc. Maybe bees when i get bored.

My place is just a research station to make mistakes on. It already looks so much better than any neighboring woods.  My dads lot a few doors over is next. By the time that is finished itll be obvious im onto something different than growing greenbrier and doaty oak.
Isaiah 63:10

Offline mike_belben

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Re: You filthy swine!
« Reply #14 on: June 26, 2021, 09:03:22 AM »
I may as well reveal the retirement endgame.  

Buy the worst landlocked 5 acre highgraded lots for cheap, secure ROW access, culvert and cut road, harvest everything that isnt a majestic shade oak or tap maple.. paddock, electric fence, free forage seed, grow meat, hunt it and wait for the next pandemic to sell the turn key "mini farm" to the lets go green mcmansion citiots for unspeakable sums. Puts me in a good spot to get the dirtwork, septic and lawn contracts too. At yankee rates.  ;)


Its what i like to do and it costs me almost nothing since i have all the junk to do it at my own pace.  No time clock, no schedule, no billing, no getting stiffed by customers, no having to argue with customers, no waiting for parts, no deadlines or promises or middle of the night calls.  All the things ive had enough of. 

Pigs seems like a good machine to turn placeholder foliage into something and prevent regen from becoming a chore i need to mow or spray in the interim before an eventual property sale.  I like bacon more than goat or lamb, in terms of lawnmower flavor.  Cows probably not for me. Maybe one or two a year someday. 
Isaiah 63:10

Offline mike_belben

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Re: You filthy swine!
« Reply #15 on: June 26, 2021, 10:36:06 AM »
Im eager for one of you to say yer an idiot kid, you have no idea what youre talking about or what youre getting into and here is why ... ___ 

Because i know the information that follows will be good advice.  I truly have no idea what im getting into but it seems like a thing that fed a lot of kids through a lot of hard times past and i know more kids and more hard times is a part of the future.  

Please pick this/me apart.  Im asking as a favor.  
Isaiah 63:10

Offline btulloh

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Re: You filthy swine!
« Reply #16 on: June 26, 2021, 10:42:00 AM »
The future is never as bad and never as good as it seems it will be. I wouldnt put all my eggs in the dystopian basket, nor would i plan only for things to be perfect.

Offline mike_belben

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Re: You filthy swine!
« Reply #17 on: June 26, 2021, 10:47:42 AM »
I plan for the worst and pray for the best.  Am thankful to be having a pretty great life.
Isaiah 63:10

Offline Corley5

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Offline mike_belben

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Re: You filthy swine!
« Reply #19 on: June 26, 2021, 10:56:50 AM »
Once upon a time i was clandestinely in that line of work and have kept tabs with where my associates ended up.  Mostly the obits or prison.  

Thought about it for 5 minutes.  Its just not who i wanna be or what i wanna teach my kids to be. I dont care what it pays, the costs are high. Badumpt. 
Isaiah 63:10


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