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Feeder pigs and finishing hogs

Feeder pigThe first thing I learned from Storey's Guide to Raising Pigs was that my terminology was all wrong.  I wrote previously about my idea of raising two pigs from when they're weaned (feeder pigs) until slaughter, which I now know is known as finishing hogs.  According to Klober, the term "pigs" is used to refer to baby hogs, and piglet is "a layman's term for a young pig, but don't use this around swine producers unless you want to be laughed out of the coffee shop."  After a short time, pigs grow into shoats, than at 125 pounds they are known as hogs.

Except for getting the wording wrong, though, my idea of starting our adventure by finishing two hogs is a good one.  The first step is to find someone who will sell you pigs when they're around two months old and are well weaned, at which time you should expect to pay anywhere from $50 to $200 apiece for the pigs.  I'll write more about selecting your feeder pigs tomorrow, but it's worth noting that if you're skipping the feeder-pig stage and going right into keeping your own breeding herd, you'll need to pay more for top-quality genetics.

When you bring your feeder pigs home, they'll weigh about 40 to 70 pounds, and they'll need a little TLC at first.  Until pigs are eight weeks old, it's best to keep them on unlimited feed, to wire open the doors of self-feeders and -waterers, and to keep littermates together.  Young pigsEven after that, when you move pigs to a new location, they may go off their feed for a few days and need some electrolyte in their water (and, Klober suggests, some flavored gelatin powder sprinkled on their food and in their water to increase consumption).  Walter Jeffries recommends keeping your new pigs in a 16-by-16-foot area for a few days to get them used to you and to the fencing before moving them to pasture.

Three to four months after you bring them home, your pigs should have grown into hogs that weigh more than you do.  Hogs are usually butchered at 220 to 260 pounds, with the lower end of the weight range giving leaner meat and the higher end providing more cost-efficiency at the butcher.  Expect to spend a bit longer growing out your hogs if you're raising them on pasture, especially if the weather is cold.

Stay tuned for later posts in this week's lunchtime series walking you through more of the specifics of raising feeder pigs.

Trailersteading follows the adventures of half a dozen homesteaders who decided to live the simple life in used mobile homes.

This post is part of our Storey's Guide to Raising Pigs lunchtime series.  Read all of the entries:

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I feel like this is the year where I just want to move -- your finishing hogs post really seals the deal! (I think part of it is that my neighbor has a young magnolia adjacent to the back of my property that is just getting large enough to block all my sun exposure from the southeast).
Comment by Eliza @ Appalachian Feet Tue Mar 12 19:27:16 2013

One very unique homestead, $1,500 per acre, the opportunity of a lifetime