You should raise pigs on your homestead- here’s why…
I have raised several different types of livestock & poultry over the years since we started homesteading in 2014- goats, chickens, cattle, horses, pigs, ducks, geese, rabbits…
Lately, I have found myself really missing the pigs that we raised on our 40-acre property. We had 2 sows (who each had a litter), 8 feeder pigs, and 2 mini pigs…not a whole lot, but it was plenty for us.
If you are looking to bring in more animals to your farm or homestead then I encourage you to consider my piggy friends. Here are 7 reasons to raise pigs for meat on your homestead.
Benefits of Raising Pigs for Meat
Pigs are incredible animals and, if I’m honest, they are my favorite farm animal to raise. If you have a space for them (they don’t need much) then they are one of the easiest animals to raise for meat on the homestead. If you raise two pigs per year, you could have a freezer full of meat for your family and then sell the other processed pig to cover all of the feed costs. If your family doesn’t need a whole hog for the year, you can keep half of the processed meat of one pig and sell the other half.
Reason #1: You get more food for your money.
If you are raising animals for meat, then you will want to get the most return possible out of your investment. I have found that pigs allow me to do this the best as a small homesteader. You can raise one cow-calf pair per 3 acres, but you can raise 10-20 pigs per 1 acre (10 if pasture is the only source of feed).
If you are breeding pigs then you can have about 6-8 sows with litters per acre. We had 4 acres cross-fenced into one-acre paddocks. Rotating paddocks allows for pasture fertilization & regrowth and it limits the smell because there is very little smell with properly rotated pastured pigs.
These pigs will provide you with meat (bacon, pork chops, ham, sausage…yum!) and lard for cooking and for making soaps!
Reason #2: You can turn pigs into profit.
When you raise pigs, you can really bring home the bacon. There are multiple ways to turn your backyard pigs into a profitable operation.
- You can buy feeder pigs to grow out and sell for meat. There is a good market for local pork, especially pasture-raised, at farmers’ markets and in restaurants.
- Breed pigs and sell the weaned babies as feeder pigs.
- Breed and sell “mini” pigs as pets, but be honest in your marketing!
- Sell high-quality piglets as breeding stock.
Reason #3: Raising Pigs Can Reduce Food Waste
Pigs will eat *almost* anything so scraps that normally would be thrown away or composted can be given to pigs.
- Overripe produce from the garden?
- Table scraps that your picky children refused to eat?
- Leftover raw milk and whey from cheesemaking?
- Gleaned extras from local farms and dairies?
Give it to the little porkers 🙂
You can keep your kitchen scraps in a small filtered compost pail to keep the flies and the smell away until you have enough to take out.
Reason #4: Pigs can improve the garden.
You can put your pigs to work by moving them to the garden area during off-seasons. The trait in pigs that many farmers have tried to get rid of is the very trait that can reduce your garden workload… rooting! Pigs will dig up weeds and aerate the soil for you by rooting around and flipping the dirt.
Pig manure is also a great garden fertilizer! You will want to be sure that you take the pigs off of the garden area well before planting time to give the manure time to compost- This is because pig manure can harbor parasites that need to be killed off before planting a food garden. It is also pretty high in nitrogen so it can potentially burn plants if fresh piggy poo comes into contact with new plants.
Reason #5: Pigs can clean up parasite infestations
Run pigs behind sheep, cattle, and goats in your pasture rotation system. The ruminant animals have different parasites than pigs so the pigs act as “dead-end” hosts making the pasture clean for the next rotation of ruminants.
Reason #6: Pigs are social and intelligent.
Our pigs were always so eager to see us when we would drive up each afternoon. They would run the fence line as we drove up and then they would nuzzle their heads on us when we entered the pen. This might have been because we had feed with us, but we will say that they just really loved us, k?
**So sorry for the low-quality photos… see me and my mini, Penelope, below… I raised pigs before I knew how to take a decent photo.
Reason #7: Pigs can teach kids responsibility and respect for animals.
Farm chores are great to build character, responsibility, and respect in children. Our kids were big helpers with our pigs from feeding to fencing to checking babies. They can help with record keeping as well.
Kids can also raise pigs as 4H projects. The kids raise, show, and sell their pigs at 4H auctions. Most of the time the sponsor that purchases the pig will donate it back to the child so he or she can earn more experience and money.
My oldest kiddo raised two pigs when he was 9 or 10. He named them Super and Duper. One pig was raised to process for meat while the other was used as a 4-H show pig. Showing livestock isn’t our specialty, but we all learned so much through the process.
Raising pigs on the homestead is a great way to produce your own food while giving the animals a good life. Be sure to research commercial and heritage pig breeds to decide which one will work best for you, determine your ideal setup (pastured pigs or confined to a small space pig pen), plan the infrastructure, and bring home the bacon!
Books About Raising Pigs
- Storey’s Guide to Raising Pigs
- The Marvelous Pigness of Pigs: Respecting and Caring for All God’s Creation by Joel Salatin
- Small-Scale Pig Raising by Dirk Van Loon
- Homegrown Pork: Humane, Healthful Techniques for Raising a Pig for Food by Sue Weaver
- The New Livestock Farmer: The Business of Raising and Selling Ethical Meat by Rebecca Thistlethwaite
More Homestead Resources
- 29 of the Best Homesteading Resources
- 5 Questions to Ask Before Starting a Homestead
- The Livestock Management Binder
- The Pig Record Book