How to get started raising pigs
Raising pigs can be extremely rewarding. British Lop pigs are particularly docile, easy to manage, and difficult to get wrong when rearing for meat, if you follow a few simple guidelines. Showing your pigs and becoming a member of a pig society opens up an enjoyable social scene with a healthy bit of competition thrown in! The following is a basic guide to get you started, however if you have any queries that we have not covered, please feel free to contact us or post your questions on the forum.
Here's a quick how-to guide to raising your own British Lops
Decide how many pigs to raise
Consider how many pigs you want for yourself, and how many you might be able to sell. Also consider the freezer space you have available. 2 pigs will just about fill a 14-cubic ft freezer.
Find your feed supplier
Your best choice is to buy feed from a local farmer merchants or feed store . Ask around to find a local grain grower. You can also buy commercial organic hog feed.
Get your equipment
You will need a trough for feeding, water bowls, and electric fencing to keep your pigs in. You will also need a simple hut for shelter and lots of straw for bedding.
Set up your pen area
Place your pig house, waterers and feeders in their starting location, and set up your electric fence.
Get your weaner
Again your best choice is to buy weaner piglets from a local farmer. Ask around to your friends and neighbouring farmers. Your other option is to buy some weaners at an animal auction, but try to find a local farmer first.
Provide feed and water twice-daily
Move the pigs when they have rooted up all the ground in their paddock.
A Lop should reach pork weight (120 – 160lb) in 16 to 18 weeks. Ad lib feeding can be the best way to achieve this.
A piglet between 4-5 weeks will get most nutrition from its mother’s milk. A lactating mother requires 7lb/3 kg of a 14% protein food a day, plus another 1lb/0.5kg for every piglet she is feeding (e.g. 10 piglets = 17lb/8kg of food per day)
Gradually reduce this amount of food for the mother from about 3 weeks and feed piglets some grower pellets* (only as much as they will clear in a day).
Watch a mother’s condition carefully; at weaning (8 weeks) she should be lean but not thin.
When piglets are weaned, they need their own hopper full of grower pellets for ‘ad lib’ feeding. Keep feed fresh.
From 12 – 14 weeks begin reducing levels of protein in the feeds by using a sow/ weaner feed mix.
Depending on feed, and how big your want your pigs to get, at 16 to 18 weeks, they will be ready to go to the abattoir.
Book ahead; some abattoirs have wait times of several weeks, especially during the busy summer months.
How much meat do you get when raising pigs for meat?
Raising pigs for meat on a small property is a great way to put some food in your freezer. Organic pastured pork is healthier and just tastes better than the 'store-bought' kind.
So, how much meat do you get from your typical British Lop pig? Here's a breakdown of the yield (cuts and quantities). This analysis will help you plan your freezer space and also help you set prices for your pork.
Your actual yields will vary depending on the weight and the particular retail cuts you choose.
This is based on a pig with a hanging weight of 55kg
Hanging weight is the weight you use if you are raising pigs for meat and money; this is the weight you base your price on when selling your pork by the whole or half-carcass. This is also the weight you use when calculating your cost per pound.
It may seem obvious, but if you are selling pork by the cut, you will charge a higher price for the premium cuts loin. Everybody wants pork chops, and you can't fill every order with just chops alone.
Here's the retail cuts from this pig:
- Loin (chops or roast) - 24 lbs
- Bacon - 24 lbs
- Shoulder (chops or roasts) - 12 lbs
- Hams - 30-35 lbs
- Ribs or belly - 4-5 lbs
- Trim (as ground pork or sausage) - 14 lbs
- Total retail cuts 90 lbs
The exact yield of each cut from your personal pig will vary, but this will be close enough to let you set a price per pound for the various retail cuts.