Ramble On

Friday, December 28, 2012

Swine Song

Pig pile.  With a goat as observer.

Here’s a close-out post for the month, about the swine again.  In the issue of Mother Earth News I’ve been reading, there is a brief discussion of the economics of raising your own, so I can nerd out for a post about costs – that’s a treat for me, you know, as an economist. 

Speaking of which – there’s an old joke about economists…
How do you know which one's the extrovert in an elevator full of economists?
He’ll be the one looking at everyone else’s shoes.

Now back to the costs of "home growing" pork.

If you’re starting with a fifty pound weaner pig, the estimate is 585 pounds of ration to get the animal up to 250 pounds.  While this sounds somewhat inefficient, apparently it is better than what you get with beef but not as good as with chickens.  But then pigs are so much more fun, so you have that going for you…it’s got to be worth something.

Now, the article estimates the cost of the feed at between $155 and $250, depending on whether you’re going conventional or organic.  There are offsets – if you have good pasture, for example, or if, like Michael Perry described in “Coop,” you’re able to supplement with stale backed goods or old produce (I know David usually has veggies that aren’t in market condition that he’ll toss to the livestock), then you'll see some savings.

All totaled, once you’ve gotten the pig (technically, it's a hog once it passes 120 pounds, as we learned in yesterday's post) up to market weight, you’re looking at around $1.50 to $3.00 per pound, depending on your region.  That includes butchering, which we do ourselves…but then, David takes them up well past 250 pounds.  So all said and done, where probably doing better than the Mother Earth News article estimates.

And it is very worth it, even if it might come out a bit higher due to market conditions for the feed.  I can’t say I’ve tasted better pork than we were enjoying last year – and the experimentation with grilling the various cuts was well worthwhile…

You can check out my pork cooking adventures under the label “pork diaries” in the right hand column.

Here's to a Happy New Year.  Thanks for reading this year, see you in 2013!

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