Am I Nuts?
When I was a little kid my dad and grandpa ran a small farrow to finish hog operation. They did this till about 2004 when finally low prices were enough they quit farming altogether. I have always had a soft spot for hogs and tend to like them more then cattle. Does anyone here raise hogs in any capacity? I’m wondering if it would make sense for me to do this?
From what I understand there’s more less two ways to go into the hog business. Loan a couple million and put up a contract building or operate small run them outside or in the old Cargill open front type units. Does it make sense for a young person (20) to try to get into this anymore? I would not be able to do anything immediately as I don’t have facilities but whenever I do make the plunge to make my first land purchase I’d really like to add some type of livestock to my operation. Mostly for diversity, and I honestly think manure is the best thing for farm ground. (Better than granule or liquid NPK).
Were all a little nuts. I have a small farrow to finish operation. 10 sows, 10 bred gilts , 2 boars. All my barns are liquid and were built by my dad. Solid cement floors slope to the inside and outside so that you hose manure into a gutter. gutter is gravity feed into an underground holding pit. It works well for me, but if i was building from scratch i would do it differently.
Sows I would keep housed in groups of whatever your farrowing batch sizes are. Open front shed with a fence line feed trough and waterer. Deep bed the shed and give them a little bit of an open lot for them to roam. not too hard to clean with a skid steer.
I like farrowing in a liquid barn with sows in crates. have pans under the sows to keep ammonia down and just hose down under the crates. Have a separate room for nursery pens, wean at 21 days, put in nursery pen for 4 weeks. move to deep bedding.
Finishers id put in a deep bedding hoop barn. Enough capacity per barn for all the pigs from each farrowing group. Different barn for each farrowing batch. finish each batch from 7 weeks old to market in deep bedded barn, haul manure, disinfect, move in next batch.
I sell a lot of feeder pigs. Im in an area where people are encroaching. A lot of 5 acre lot hobby people. People with 1 horse a lawn mower and a mini manure spreader hauling manure in their front yard. A lot of the feeders i sell are to these people who want to raise just 2 pigs. I get a premium because they only take 2 and they are super proud of their "farmstead". I also finish out quite a few and sell privately. We keep plenty of meat on hand and sell piece meal too. Currently i am in the process of working out a deal to supply an area restaurant. Profit margin inst as high, but volume is there to make it worth it.
I personally would not go the contract rout. Too much risk for too little reward. If you have the local market, ive found people are willing to pay a premium to see where their meat comes from.
Im 26, I started renting 5 acres when i was in high school using my dads junk equipment. We had no livestock at the time, barns had been empty since the mid 90s. This year ill be farming 270 acres and be farrowing 20 pigs with my own full line of paid for equipment. I really had to elbow my way into getting any ground. If you're willing to put in the sweat equity its possible to make it work.
Good Luck to you, there is no better job.
Sam, my neighbor has 150 sows, his farrowing barns are old trailer house that he got for free, he has 2 big lean to sheds, then a couple smaller hoop sheds, pigs are all on dirt pastures except when farrowing. He sells 90% of his pigs as 40-80 pound feeder pigs on craiglist, 60-100 each, and he has waiting lists. If you can sell feeders and direct market any butcher hogs you raise you can make money, but if you have to sell at the sale barn it doesn't pencil out. Start small and grow with demand would be my advice.
Would you recommend going the farrow to finish route or just raising feeder to finish?
My thoughts on feed were to put up a bin and use my corn (9-10 bushel a head?) and buy soybean meal and supplement? Grind my own.
Are you using a hoop barn now? I’m not against them at all, just don’t know anything about them. Always have seen hogs raised in total confinement or totally outdoors. Our barns when I was little are the same as what your describing I think.
I understand your point in elbowing in to get ground. There’s none around here that isn’t tied up. What I picked up was what no one else wanted. To get anymore I’m going to have to compete with others...not sure how I feel about that..
Would you be willing to talk with me about numbers on raising hogs? I don’t need to know your numbers generics would be fine just so I could get a grip on everything I would need to look at, and a look at profit vs loss. If you’d rather keep they private I can give you my cell number or Facebook.
local guy here direct sells butcher hogs. small scale but it makes the pork profitable. I will be interviewing him this spring so we can see his operation.
I like the farrow to finish because i can market them "born and raised on my family farm". You really get to push the responsible raised and best of care factor too. Plus, the women love seeing pictures of baby pigs. Not to mention it CAN increase your profit margin. That said, if you loose piglets or even a sow its a big loss. I figure i make my own feed for $0.10 / lb. 114 days gestation at 5lb/ day, 21 days to wean plus breeding time at 10lb day, it costs about $83.00 in sow feed. Boar services 10 sow currently, so 140 days at 5 lb day is $7.00 per sow. I don't do any vaccinations unless i have to, just iron shots to new borns. call it $2/ head for iron, needle, syringe, scalpel. Throw in another $2/head for electric and fuel hauling manure wear and tear. I usually average around 10 per liter. so that works out to be $13/ pig at weaning. Add on 4 more weeks in the nursery and i still can have 2 pigs compared to buying 1. Ive always heard the only way to make money doing pigs is to grind your own feed.
No hoop barns currently, but if i ever get the opportunity to outgrow my current barns i will be going to one. right now i have capacity for 64 sows and farrowing for 16. works out perfect for a four turn system, about 2,000 piglets a year. It will be a while before i out grow that.
You can look me up on facebook, Tyler George in Ohio the 4430 is in my profile pic, or my number is 330 248 ten fifty, call or text. Id be happy to answer any questions i can.
Tyler I sent you a message on Facebook.
Tyler can you expand on your hog feed please? You following a program or something you come up with yourself?
I'm gona get a couple sows and a boar. Gona run em on grass/soy free grains but I wont have that feed mix until august/september. So need something else til then, I'm ok with soy based for a short time frame.
I grind all of my own feed, i just buy the supplement. My summer job all through high school was working at the local feed mill. So i just use one of their recipes for a 16% feed. Technically I should have different mixes for Weaners, feeders, finishers, sow gestation, sow lactation, and boars. But I don't have enough animals on hand to justify that. The 16% grind has been a good middle ground for all the pigs. Its nothing fancy, here is the original mix.
2000 Lb batch
1520 Lb Corn
448 Lb SBM
32 Lb Kent NexGen Premix
The mill i worked for burned down about 2 years ago. They decided to not rebuild and only sell bagged feed out of a shed that survived the fire. Another near by mill got a lot of their business and as a result started ordering in the same brands of supplements. It got to be too much for them and they went back to only using the brand they have always used. (coke vs pepsi, but you know how people get) So this mill has got me using Express Meal instead of SBM. Its still soybean, but its a different way of processing the bean for the oil. Its cheaper and seems to be working out well. Ive only been using it a couple months, its been a direct replacement to the SBM. Its not as dusty as the SBM i was getting, and it smells really good. Like peanuts actually. The dog goes nuts when we dump it in the grinder. Dad eats a lot of peanuts and always throws the dog a couple. She doesn't think its fair the pigs get peanuts and she doesnt. haha.
I ground feed 2 weeks ago, and this was the first time i used a "home made" mineral. The owner of the mill offered to make the premix instead of buying it. Its cheaper than the Kent, and they are going to stop getting it in any way. It will also be what they go to for their stock hog feed. I dont have a recipe for their mix but next time i go to the mill in a week or two ill try and get it.