How Much Does It Cost to Raise A Pig? (Updated for 2018)

How Much Does a Pig Cost?

When you’re starting out with livestock it can be hard to judge what your costs are going to be. If you’re getting started with pigs, let me walk you through your expected cost to raise a pig. We’ll be looking at a backyard or small homestead situation, not a large commercial operation. We’ll also be looking at a weaner-to-market process, not a breeding operation.

One note to start off with: when you ask, “How much is a pig?”, you actually need to ask, “How much are pigs?” Pigs are social animals, and you should never be raising fewer than two. Perhaps you could get away with it if your pig was going to be penned with cows, goats, or sheep. But don’t raise a pig all by itself! You should be able to find a friend or neighbor that wants to buy that other pig.

As you’re learning about raising pigs, I’ve got a couple of book suggestions for you. You’ll want to familiarize yourself with all the factors, and both of these books are great choices to get you started.

One is called How to Raise Pigs (these are all affiliate links), and it’s the first one I got started with. Whether you’re raising pigs for pets, getting started raising a 4H pig, or going purely for yummy pork, this book will help you along.

How to Raise Pigs // LoveLiveGrow #homesteading #livestock #pigs

The other one I recommend is Storey’s Guide to Raising Pigs. The whole Storey’s Guide series is a reliable source of information on raising all kinds of homestead animals – bees, goats, chickens, and more!
Storey's Guide to Raising Pigs // LoveLiveGrow #homesteading #livestock #pigs

 

Now let’s get started learning the all the factors that go into the cost to raise your pig!

The Cost to Raise a Pig

What factors do you need to plan for when understanding how much it costs to raise a pig?

I group things into a couple of big categories.

First up is infrastructure. These are the basics you need to understand and implement. Infrastructure covers:

  • Fencing
  • Feeders
  • Waterers
  • Shelter
  • Transportation
  • Coolers
  • Freezers

Then you have recurring per-pig expenses. These include:

  • Piglet price
  • Feed
  • Bedding
  • Health care
  • Processing
  • Fuel

Infrastructure

Your first category in your cost to raise a pig is infrastructure or operation costs. When you buy these things they become assets that will last you from year to year. You need to include their cost in your yearly or batch estimates because the initial costs are so high. If you spend $500 on fencing, for example, and you expect it to last 5 years, you need to add $100 to the cost of each year of pigs.

Let’s look at some categories of cost you should consider. Some of these things you may already own, and of course actual prices can wildly vary, but we’ll look at some estimates.

Fencing

Fencing is your biggest concern when considering your infrastructure cost to raise a pig. We use Elecronet fencing which is about $150 for 165 ft of fencing. We have several of these because we use them for the sheep and around gardens, too. You could start out with two. The price-per-foot on this type of fence is high, but we like how mobile they are. With our sheep we’ve gone through periods where we are moving the fence every day. We’ve had some of our rolls of fence for 4 years now and they have held up great and been a great investment. With electric you also have to factor in the price of energizers. Other kinds of fencing include hog panels and woven wire.

Feeders and waterers

We have really gone through feeding and watering equipment. It seems like every year we are trying out a different method! We have settled on a 55 gallon waterer that Joshua made that cost maybe $40 in supplies. For feed bowls we’re using heavy duty rubber bowls like these. We started out using metal bowls, but pigs are rough on everything, and the metal bowls quickly got beat up. We probably average spending $25 a year on bowls.

2018 update: We ended up building a permanent feeder as well, which you can see in the picture above. It’s probably overkill if you are only raising 2 but we’ve raised as many as 6 and feeding time can get hectic!

Shelter

The first year we raised pigs we used a stall in our barn as their shelter. Now that we’ve moved the pigs out into the pasture, Joshua built them a shed. It was roughly $300 in materials. We get a good price on our lumber because a neighbor of ours runs a small independent sawmill. Your pigs will need some kind of shelter, and it needs to be very sturdy. You’ll have to price out lumber in your area to estimate the cost of building something if you aren’t able to use something already on your property.

Transportation

How will you get your piglets home? They can go in the bed of a truck with cattle racks on, or you could put them in a large dog crate, depending on how many you’re buying, of course. The biggest hurdle comes on the other end when you need to get 500 pounds of pig to the processor. You might be able to use your truck, or you might need a livestock trailer. You may need to buy or build ramps leading onto the truck or trailer.

Coolers

When you pick up your meat from the processor, you’ll need the cooler space to get it home. We’ve found that a 120 quart cooler is about one pig’s worth of cuts from the butcher. A good rule of thumb is 1 pound of meat to 1 quart of cooler space.

Freezer

Of course you also need the right amount of freezer space at home. This post talks about the freezer and cooler space you need. You need enough for your own meat, plus any you get stuck with because a buyer didn’t come through. We have a small chest freezer in our kitchen that we bought new. We also have a gigantic one we bought used off of Craigslist that lives in the basement.

Recurring Costs

The other big category of costs is recurring each time you do a batch of pigs and in general goes up as the number of pigs you raise goes up.

Piglets

How much is a baby pig? We have gotten weaner piglets for as cheap as $35 a piglet in our area, and prices can go up to $200 a piglet or more for registered heritage breed piglets. For a weaner-to-market operation I wouldn’t think you’d be buying $200 piglets, but be wary of cheap ones, too. One year we got a “good deal” that turned out not-so-good when the pigs had gotten an infection as babies that led to them not growing very well.

Feed

Feed is your biggest cost. Our pigs have tended to have a feed conversion ration of between 2.5 and 3. That means it takes us 2.5-3 pounds of feed to grow one pound of pig. This year (2014) we’re buying our feed for $15 a 50 pound bag. It takes us between $150-$200 of feed to grow our pigs to market weight. You can save some money if you have a free source of food supplement like whey from a dairy. Keep in mind that your kitchen scraps won’t have any effect at all. It’s too few calories to make a difference.

Bedding

You might buy straw bales for bedding for your pigs. We pay about $5 a square bale and I usually end up buying 5-6 bales for a batch of pigs.

Health care

We have very few health care costs will our pigs. We deworm when we first get piglets, and one year we had to treat for mites.

Processing

Our processor charges a $35 kill bill and $0.55/lb hang weight for USDA processed and packaged meat. That comes to around $125 a pig. You should start exploring your processing options early. Small-scale processors are scarce these days, and they may have long wait times. You’ll want to understand their policies and process early in the game. Of course you can also do the killing and butchering yourself if you are a brave soul or if you have a knowledgeable person to help you out. Then your costs will be things like knives and butcher paper.

2018 update: My processor currently charges a $40 kill bill and $.60/lb hang weight, which comes out to about $138 a pig.

Fuel

As fuel costs rise your feed costs will rise, but there’s another area where you need to consider fuel costs. It is expensive to drive from place to place, and you need to be factoring that into your cost estimate. It is a common area to overlook. Between picking up the piglets, driving to the store for feed and supplies, delivering pigs to the processor and then picking up the meat, we estimate that we drive 280 miles on behalf of a batch of pigs. Take the price of fuel in the area and the fuel mileage on your vehicle and you’ll find a number that might be bigger than you’d guess.

The Cost to Raise a Pig

How Much Does It Cost To Raise a Pig? // LoveLiveGrow // #homesteading #livestock #pigs

The total amount it will cost to raise a pig depends on a lot of factors. The price of fuel in your area and the price you can get the feed make a big difference. Your infrastructure costs will be more spread out if you’re doing 20 pigs than if you’re doing 2. But let me start out giving you one example of how much it can cost, and then we’ll go over some of those various factors.

Here is the bottom line estimate for Joshua and me here at The Wallow in 2014 raising the minimum of 2 pigs:

$50 x 2 – Price of piglets
$200 x 2  – Feed cost
$250 – Fuel cost
$200 – Infrastructure (fencing, housing, etc) and misc (health care, bedding, etc)
$125 x 2 – Processing fee

Total = $600 cost to raise a pig for a 275 lb pig at market weight. That will give us about 130 pounds of meat and extras, which works out to about $4.62/lb across all cuts.

2018 update: All of these prices have been remarkably stable. My processor charges a few dollars more these days, but feed costs have stayed almost exactly the same!

Do you have any other questions about the cost to raise a pig?

(Originally published March 6, 2018)

37 thoughts on “How Much Does It Cost to Raise A Pig? (Updated for 2018)”

  1. I am glad that you mention that they are social animals and that you need to buy two. As a child, we tried to buy just one for a 4-H project. The poor guy got so depressed that he stopped eating and drinking. He nearly died before a vet told us to get another. Emotions aside, you will end up spending more money on purchasing another, older hog, or spend more money on keeping pics longer than you initially planned. Have you ever tried growing fodder for them? If so, I would love to hear about it!

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    • I wouldn’t go with keeping an older companion pig. Pigs get huge! Trying to feed an adult year round would get really expensive. I just get multiple pigs from the same litter and find other buyers for the extras. The first and second batches of pigs we did here at The Wallow I tried to plant forage for them, but those calories are completely insignificant in their overall diet. We don’t have enough land to make a serious dent in their feed. I’m thinking of trying to grow some food for our free-range chickens. That’s a much more do-able project!

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      • Ma’am you’ve already been reared the pig so far I went across all the sites about pig I’m still in confusion how to start it I’m form Nepal,south asia. Weather to start with 3-5 pigs in small farm at the begining ! and which species to rare for more piglet and heavy meat after 6 months !
        I would be greatful for your help !

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        • Spaniard,
          Look up large black hogs. They pasture well. I hope you and your family are doing well after the tragic events in your country.
          Ex

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        • Shankar,
          Look up large black hogs. They pasture well. I hope you and your family are doing well after the tragic events in your country.
          Ex

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      • I was curious if you think there would be a dent in a pig’s food bill if you offered them a place to forage items like chestnuts, black walnuts or acorns, as well as a fall garden to root around in? We’re looking more into keeping a potential year ’round breeding pair and their offspring.

        Reply
    • We made the mistake of only buying one pig last year. She got much happier when it finally occurred to us to have the geese and ducks near her pen to “talk” to her.

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      • That’s a good point – that the company for the pig doesn’t have to be pigs. As long as its not something that’s trying to eat the pig or something that the pig is trying to eat, many other farm animals would likely make good companions.

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      • One year our pigs ate our geese, so don’t keep them in the same pen! And the horses would bite them (leaving giant open sores). Maybe goats or cattle would be a good fit? We never tried, so you might have better luck with those.

        Mary

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        • We are considering raising pigs as well. We are a small farm including a couple of calves. I’ve heard you are not supposed to pen pigs and cows together. Is this true? We are also considering a couple of goats. Is there any concerns with these co-habiting?

          Thanks!

          Reply
          • Some people do pen pigs with other animals, including cows and goats. A lot depends on your particular situation. Some considerations include:
            –Parasite load if the animals share parasites. This depends on how much space you have for them, whether you are rotating pasture, etc.
            –Aggression between animals. A pig can hurt a goat and a cow can probably hurt both of them. If you have enough space it may not be an issue. If you have more than one uncut male in the group, it is likely to be a problem.
            –Aggression around young. Mama pigs are very aggressive when they have babies. They WILL attack other animals (even you!) if they feel threatened. If any other animals have young, the pigs may try to eat them. Even if you do house them all together, you’ll probably want to move any mamas and litters to a separate area.
            –Health of the pasture. If you want your goats or cows to be able to graze the land, keep in mind that pigs will destroy your pasture unless you have a vast amount of space or are intensively rotating through many areas.

            If you google “Can I keep pigs with _____” you will find plenty of forum posts where people are discussing their concerns and how keeping the animals together has worked out for them.

        • I had been keeping two large gilts in with two heifer cows and it was a constant battle. The pigs would bite at the cattle’s ears, tails, etc. The cows would kick the pigs and butt them. Both are much happier since I separated them.

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    • Do you have an idea of what the cost was to care for your pig when you were in 4-H? My daughter wants to raise a pig, but I am trying to get an idea of what how expensive it is.

      Reply
  2. I would warn new homesteaders who are thinking about breeding a mature pig and raising a litter of piglets to sell. Be careful around mother pigs. Nothing can be more vicious and dangerous than a mother pig who thinks who piglets are in danger. One frightened squeal from a baby pig can turn that docile mother pig into a killing machine. Of course there are always exceptions and some mother pigs who have been made into pets by her owners are quite safe and will allow you to pick up babies. But be careful, I have witnessed some nasty bites delivered to the farmhand by an irate mother pig.

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  3. your numbers are way off! Market weight is app. 300 lbs, at 6 pounds of feed a day, for 7 to 9 months your looking at app,$500.00. then the kill, and butcher, you’re at about 700, that’s not including repairs to fence and living spaces. I’m wondering how much a full grown meat pig would cost me, one that I don’t have to raise, I could bring right from you to the butcher, any idea?

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    • My numbers are accurate for my situation. Market weight is generally considered to be 220 pounds, although I do raise them a big bigger because we use the lard. But let’s go with your number of 300 pounds. I’m describing a weaner to market operation, so let’s say you get your weaners at 20 pounds, which means you want to add 280 pounds to your pig. If you average 6 pounds of feed for an average of 8 months (you said 7-9), that’s 1411 pounds of food, or a feed conversion ratio of 5:1. That’s TERRIBLE! I have achieved as low as 2:1. 3-4:1 is considered normal for pigs.

      Here’s what I said in the post:

      Cost to raise two pigs to 275lbs:
      $50 x 2 – Price of piglets
      $200 x 2 – Feed cost
      $250 – Fuel cost
      $200 – Infrastructure (fencing, housing, etc) and misc (health care, bedding, etc)
      $125 x 2 – Processing fee

      Which comes to about $600 per pig.

      These numbers are pretty accurate for me across several years of raising pigs. Adjust for your fuel costs, feed costs, and your processor fees. But if you’re paying $500 in feed *alone* there’s something off with your operation.

      When I sell a pig to someone else, my price is based off of these numbers (adjusted for real feed/fuel prices in the current year). If you were picking it up from me, you would be covering the processing fee yourself, so I’d take that number off, and then I aim to profit about $200 per pig (maybe more if it were strangers, but I’m usually selling to friends), so call it $675.

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      • Hi Issa,
        Thanks for the link on the waterer. I’m wanting to do 2 feeder pigs in a paddock shift set-up on about 2-3 acres so any waterer will have to be mobile. In the link, the author had the barrel mounted up off the ground and held in place to keep the hogs from getting it down on the ground and beating it up. I’m curious as to how you guys keep yours in one place.
        I guess it would be possible to setup a “wagon wheel” type paddock system with a central watering station that doesn’t move (maybe even on a concrete pad to keep that area from turning into too much of a mess) but that may not work well with my lot-layout.
        Thanks in advance.

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        • We kept our waterer outside the fencing, with the pipes poking through to the pigs. If I needed it to be mobile I might built it on top of a garden cart. We’ve done a rotating system before so they could rotate around a central shelter. It went okay. Pigs need a LOT of land to make a rotational system work, and we aren’t working with that much space.

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  4. Issa, I had no idea that fencing would be one of the most important things to consider when raising a pig. My kids have been asking me to get a pig. I definitely think that we should look into getting a pig as a fun and unusual pet.

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  5. Thank you for writing this. Im in the process of buying a 7 acre farm in Northern California and I have been searching everywhere trying to get an idea of cost for raising pigs and a steer. This was very helpful and seems more than worth it to raise your own.

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    • I like to make $800 per pig when I sell the meat (to friends – I’d charge more if I were doing a farmer’s market), which at the yield of my pigs comes out to about $6.15/lb. I take my local grocery store prices and do some fancy math to come up with a proportional range for my own prices. Ham comes out less than the average, tenderloin more, but I’m going to aim for that $6.15/lb average when it’s all added up. Additionally, you can sell in combo packs to help sell evenly across the cuts.

      Reply
  6. Look for a Amish or Menonite faremer who grinds his own grain. We pay 9/bag/50lb for hog grower grain and its the good stuff. We also ferment our grain in water before feeding hogs and our feed/hog conversion is 2.4. Thats through winter too when they are fighting to stay warm.

    Reply

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