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bodger

Bacon pigs?

The economics of keeping bacon pigs?
The other day I had an interesting chat with two employees from the same farm estate. One was the head butcher who asked me if I'd consider producing some bacon pigs for him. He then went on to tell me that he was quite desperate because the pigs produced on the estate farm were too small for purpose.
The second person I spoke to, was the guy who keeps the pigs on the estate. He told me that he couldn't afford to keep pigs up to bacon weight. When I pointed out to him that by turning the pigs into bacon value was added to the carcass, he explained that while they were all playing for the same team, he had to actually sell the pigs to the estate shop and that they weren't prepared to pay him enough for the extra expense incurred by him in keeping the pigs longer.
So? What makes a good bacon pig ? At what sort of age should they be ready to be turned into bacon and what feeding regime would you recommend?
Toddy

What makes him think that you'll sell your pigs to him any more cheaply than the fellow rearing them on the estate ?

Strikes me the butcher needs to pay a bit more for the quality he wants.

M
bodger

Oh, I forgot to say that there isn't a snowflakes chance in hell that I'll be selling them any pigs. pig production is marginal at the best of times and the only chance that I have of making it pay, is by selling direct to the end user.
I'm interested in what type of pig is required to make bacon. Breed, age and weight etc.
midlandsman

The problem is that small producers need to sell at retail prices to make a profit, whereas the butcher needs to buy at wholesale prices if he is to make one.

What price per kg would you need to sell at if you took the pig to about 200lb dead-weight?

MM
bodger

I'm not at all systematic and to be honest, I haven't got a clue.'
I've posted this on a pig group and they're talking of having pigs at 23 weeks with a dead weight of 80kg and no more than 12mm of back fat.
midlandsman

Can they can do that free range? They are presumably from a more intensive system? It sounds too short a period of time to me, but I've no experience of keeping pigs.

It would be worth finding out the butcher's expectations in terms of price to see if you could supply them sourced from elsewhere as a middleman.

MM
Dave C

bodger wrote:
I'm not at all systematic and to be honest, I haven't got a clue.'
I've posted this on a pig group and they're talking of having pigs at 23 weeks with a dead weight of 80kg and no more than 12mm of back fat.


Are they talking about any perticular breeds to make a bacon pig by 23 weeks ?

I thought it took about 9-12 months  
hughesy

I've taken some saddlebacks in this week that would have been 7 months old on the 24th of the month. The biggest has come back at 68kg on the hook. The loins from that one would be more than acceptable for bacon, as would the legs for gammon. The shoulders will of course make sausages as usual. My point is you don't need a humungous pig to make decent bacon, but a bit bigger than a porker is good. The problem with running pigs on so that the loins are good for bacon is that all the other bits are big too. I often joke that it would be good to breed a 10ft long porker just because the middle bit is the easiest to sell.
bodger

This is the reply from one chap. He certainly sounds as though he knows what he's on about.

"The vast majority of commercial outdoor sows are landrace x duroc, landrace for litter sizes,milking and mothering abillitiies and duroc for hardiness, viability, these are then crossed with a largewhite or similar meat values, hampshire,pietrain,maxgro are other typically used meat lines on the sow however more and more problems are raised by abbatoirs they do not like to much colour! Barn reared 105kgs liveweight at 23 weeks old, backfat under 12ml final deadweight 80kgs"
chicken feed

The key to a good pork and bacon pig is to feed them the best quality feed to get them finished sooner rather than later, cutting quality means you have them on the ground longer …its a false economy in the long run.
darkbrowneggs

I made bacon and cured hams even made a type of parma ham one year.

I just kept my eye on their backsides and when they had what I considered to be a good looking ham there I took them in.  Sometimes they were a bit fat, but I just trimmed that away, and really I could have fed them less but I was not that bothered.

The bacon was dry cured with a mix of salt and sugar and the hams wet cured.  I used recipes from an old Farmers Weekly cookbook.  They were all really excellent.  Mind you I didn't salt them enough to keep them for a long time as I don't like salty bacon.  So once it was cured it was sliced and put in the freezer.
 

But it would have kept long enough to sell.  I only kept two pigs every other year and made enough to last pretty well for the time - I wouldn't fancy 2 year old bacon if it wasn't frozen.
midlandsman

hughesy wrote:
I've taken some saddlebacks in this week that would have been 7 months old on the 24th of the month. The biggest has come back at 68kg on the hook. The loins from that one would be more than acceptable for bacon, as would the legs for gammon. The shoulders will of course make sausages as usual. My point is you don't need a humungous pig to make decent bacon, but a bit bigger than a porker is good. The problem with running pigs on so that the loins are good for bacon is that all the other bits are big too. I often joke that it would be good to breed a 10ft long porker just because the middle bit is the easiest to sell.


I fully agree with what you're saying, but if a butcher's asking for bacon pigs, as in a baconer, I fancy that he'd be thinking of something larger than 68kg -  but I'm only guessing that from the terminology butchers around here use - you know your area best.

Did the butcher or farmer mention a weight or price Bodger?

MM

added: apologies, my initial reply should have read 200lbs live weight. At least that's about the weight the ones I used to buy would have been. I've also noticed Bodger's post saying that he isn't interested in supplying them, so my comment above is irrelevant.
hughesy

As an aside, the very few pigs I do sell to a butcher are the smallest I generally take to slaughter. He wants them at a bit under 50kg on the hook so they're about 65kg live weight. Our saddlebacks generally hit that weight at about 22 weeks. I'm not at all bothered about selling them to a butcher because I don't make any money out of it even though I charge him a fair bit more than he could buy commercial pigs for. I do it occasionally because he's a mate and he does me some favours but it definitely isn't worth it financially.

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