Raising pigs for meat

Today I will be touching on several ways you can raise pigs on the farm for meat. This will be written from the point of wiener pigs on, not from a full breeding operation, as this takes much more room and time than most people have. It use to be that you would butcher livestock only in months that had the letter R in it. This means the months are usually cooler. This would help with the insect, and spoilage issues related to the high temp days of summer.

This is no longer needed due to modern butcher abilities and refrigeration. It now takes a skilled butcher less than 30 min to take a pig from standing live in the pen to slaughtered, gutted, skinned and halved hanging in the back of the truck.

This means the main issues the farm needs to decide on is how they will be raising their animals. Will your animals be pasture raised, dirt pen raised, or concrete slab raised. All of these have their advantages and disadvantages, I will try to hit on most of them and let you make your own decision.

PASTURE RAISED 
Advantages
*Lower feed costs due to feeding off the land
*More sanitary than keeping several pigs in a small pen
*happier pigs
*More consumer acceptance, this will make the animal worth more to the public
Disadvantages
*Lower quality of protein intake means longer grow times
*light damage to soil resulting in mud pits and soil erosion if to many pigs in small pastures.
*Higher costs in fencing
*More risk of animal loss due to predator attack
*Takes much more area to raise same amount of pigs
*Larger chance of animals getting sick from bacteria in the soil or eating noxious weeds
*harder to catch and contain pigs due to large open space

Dirt pen raised
Advantages
*Still allow the pigs to be outside on dirt
*If pens can be rotated it allows for animals to get vegetation lowering feed costs
*Lower fencing costs than large pasture operations
*Lower initial housing costs than barn and concrete raised
*easier to contain do to smaller pen
Disadvantages
*less sanitary and hard to clean than both concrete and pasture
*run risk of animals getting loose
*risk of bacteria from the soil
*dirtier work environment, more chance of infections
*requires rotation of pens due to sanitary conditions
*requires mobile water, feed and housing.
*Still has the issues with animals being out in all types of weather conditions.

Concrete pen raised (shaving covered)
Advantages
*Much easier to keep clean and sanitary
*ability to completely control feed intake
*No fencing expenses
*little to no chance of predator loss
*minimal chance of animals getting loose
*ability to raise more animals in less space
*no soil or property damage
*less weather related issues with the animals
*much easier to contain and work with the animals
Disadvantages
*lower consumer acceptance due to CAFO similarities
*higher initial cost to get started
*Need a location to dispose of all the animal waste
*No rotation of animals needed, once in a pen they can stay until butcher in 4 months

On my farm we always raise our pigs indoors on concrete. We find that we can make better use of our pasture ground with cows and chickens. The pigs tear up the soil, root under fence and dig holes that can cause animals, and people, to break legs. With the use of our small tractor, a trailer, a shovel and a pressure washer the pens stay clean and sanitary. I dont run the risk of them eating somthing that may kill them in the field and I can also be in the pen daily to do a close inspection of the animal. If the there is a bacteria or worms the pigs pick up somehow it is easly fixed by added meds to their feed, this is something that cant be done if they are being pasture raised. At the time of slaughter I have a nice, solid, dry location to butcher the animals that is out of the rain or sun.

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