Profiting From Pig Farming

When I came to be selling sixty or so 90 -100kg animals at the beginning of 2011, second week in January it was, there were NO takers. The market was awash with less expensive European imports, and the slaughterhouses weren’t buying that week. Fact is that if we were to have raised our pork by the same welfare standards as our neighbours in France, Belgium and beyond, we would have done so illegally – and yet they can sell freely on our market? Go figure. The next week we got rid of the pigs (having had to feed them for a week longer than planned) at £1.22 per kilo (carcass weight). The other fact is that our cost of production is actually around £1.55. Go figure again!

In the UK there is no government subsidy for pig farmers, and we are completely at the mercy of free market economics. Lots of pigs on the market brings the price down, fewer pigs brings it closer to break even, or, every few years, profit. pig roast nj

This profit – i.e. selling a product for more money than it cost to produce – is therefore very elusive. To achieve it you really need to be able to control your costs and as far as possible the end price too. Cost control means large numbers of animals to spread feed, housing, energy, labour, transport and processing costs over: if you can, invest in big (labour efficient) units with minimal capital expenditure (outdoor production is the lest expensive option), and then own the feed mill, the livestock lorries and the slaughterhouses, and then sell to a large loyal customer who understands your cost structure.

Failing this, add value yourself – the Farmers Market movement in the UK is a good example of this, the producer selling direct to his customers, customers who are prepared to pay a little extra for fewer food miles, local provenance and perceived higher quality. Turn the pig into pork pies, faggots, bacon and ready-to-roast joints. Make speciality sausages, and sell the bits that would otherwise go to waste: offals and ears, totters and brawn, then make pet food with the rest. Job done: everything but the squeak sold, and customers coming back week on week for more. Another option is catering – whole hog roasts make an excellent wedding feast for example, are excellent outdoor event food, and make very good money for the supplier (especially if he’s the caterer too!)

Otherwise, how about breeding a few pigs for the pet trade, or maybe as breeding stock to other farmers? There’s money there that will generally survive the economic lean times in the industry. Rare breeds are great news for the small holder as both speciality meat and niche breeding stock.