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jthorneuk

Pigs - Cheaper ways to feed them.

Hi, I have a question I hope you can help on.

Last year I started to keep pigs. I got myself 7 in total (2-GOS, 2-OSB,3-SB)

I have since eaten 1 SB and 1 GOS and sold 2 OSB at market leaving me with 2SB and 1GOS to breed from.

I am looking to get some more weeners and fatten them up for christmas. When family and friends found out they all showed interest in buying the meat/pigs for christmas.

Up untill now I have been feeding the pigs with sow nutts that I buy in 25kg bags from the local farm suppliers. As I have all the kit and space needed to breed the pigs the only cost is buying them and then feeding them. I was wondering if anybody has any other suggestions on what else they can be fed on that costs less? I have heard of people feeding a pea and apple skin mixture but cant find any details of this. Obviously I want to be feeding them right so does anybody have any suggestions? If i can bring the cost down it makes it less for me and less for family and friends.
Nick

Niel's Yard was offering waste product from their dairy/cheese making the other month in the local rag for pig food. Or, speak to the local supermarket/greengrocer to take their waste fruit and veg.

Pig food is prohibitively expensive right now. And rising.
T.G

If you can get hold of it - bit unlikely at this time of year fodder beet is good as are potatoes, bought in 20 tonne loads - the latter we found can run KK to fat so if you get any be aware. Plus we only fed potatoes to sows not to weaners.

Also, potatoes will bring billions of flies, you can also get carrots in the same sort of scale but they rot like lightening and you end up with carrot gloop - which stinks to high heaven and draws in flies from miles around - we didn't have carrots but I know someone who did and regretted it Laughing
jthorneuk

I actually live about 2 miles from where they make Thachers Cider and I bet they have a load of apple waste left over.

From what you guys have posted it seems that feeding a pig is not really a science.. they just need something they can eat?
Nick

They'll survive on most things, but as additions to a pellet diet is the best case. That ensures they have all the right minerals and vitamins required. My current batch are ignoring EVERYTHING I give them, preferring to eat mud, burdocks and worms. They seem to be thriving.
jthorneuk

So i could get some apple left overs in bult and exchange them for a 50/50 mix with nutts?
Nick

I think a third is the recommended amount.

http://farmingfriends.com/feeding-cider-pulp-to-pigs/
jthorneuk

ok so the most im ever looking to exchange is 1/3rd. I read some place that you should never feed more than 2kg per pig a day. So that means I can substitute 650g a day with the apples.

Rough cals means that I would save 1 bag of food a month.. saving me 8.80 a month. SO I need to buy it for less than that.. working out how far a tonne would go is the same as 150 days worth... so i would need to be buying the apple at less than 45 a tonn to make it worth while actually doing.
Nick

As a rule of thumb, feed your pigs 1lb a day for every month old they are, up to 6 months. That said, a sow with piglets will need more, some thrive on less, and I know some people allow them to adlib. Course, they could never make pig keeping profitable...

Something like bulk bought in taters, or waste bread/fruit & veg are a good bet if you can get them.

If you're looking to supply meat to people for Christmas, I'd really, REALLY suggest you get them to commit now, by paying half the costs up front. This helps massively with your cash flow, otherwise you could find yourself with a bill for slaughtering and butchering 6 pigs a week before Christmas, and everyone pulls out, on top of all the food bills you've sprung for. At least if you get 50% up front, you're not totally wrecked.

On the downside, this will not let you raise your prices if food goes up again (so factor in a 5% rise now, possibly).

ETA Buying the apple? It's a waste product. They should be glad to be rid of it. Speak to local breweries, too, for the left over mash.
northmoor

I personally wouldn't substitute pellet feed unless you get a good vit and min mix.
You can add other things and reduce feed but feeding growers is an art.
Can you not buy feed direct from manufacturers that will save you at least 2 per bag and many people feel they save money feeding other waste such as fruit and veg etc but when you factor in the cost of fuel for collection and time the amount saved is minimum.
If yo buy feed direct by the ton you will save a small fortune
Nick


If yo buy feed direct by the ton you will save a small fortune


The only caveat with that, I found was that you had to store it. I failed, in that some got eaten by rats, and some went mouldy, so negating the price improvement. However, yes, it's a good way forward, if managed better than me. Smile
Rob R

Of course the cheapest way to do it is to pay someone else to feed the pigs, and let them take the loss. Smile
Nick

True, if finance is the only driver, buy meat at Aldi. However....
jthorneuk

storing the product is not a problem as I have various out buildings that I can build storage into. The main thins is if it is worth it.. Feeding on apple waste is only going to save me a maximum of 1/3 of the cost of the feed. Althought this is worth it if the feed is cheep enough I really need to find something to replace the entire feed with. If I can reduce the feed costs then thats great. At the moment Im looking at about 200 to buy, feed a pig for 6 months. With around 180 of that being the cost in the food. When you then factor in 100 for killing and cutting at almost 300 a pig its not really worth it...
Nick

Not worth it?

Depends. What are you comparing it to? Tesco pork is far cheaper. Great tasting free range/organic style pork from a rare breed, which you categorically know hasn't had any kind of crap food, or poor living conditions will work out far more expensive.

If economics is your only measure, then, honestly, keeping pigs is a bad idea, especially for breeding. My sows cost me around 1,000 a year to feed. So they had to go.
Pel

I that a 100 to kill and cut for one pig???

You can always get in contact with the suppliers directly and ask for them to produce you a feed that is cheaper but still has all the vits and minerals, so if you could source the waste apples and beer mash and find a company who could mix for you, it is possible to do that, but you would be looking to make about 5 tons at once. I did a similar thing for a uni project and got in contact with Harbro, and one of their pig specalists helped me design a feed using the barley, wheat and peas off a farm.

You could also mix your own, but you need a license to do it right, you can get bags of vitamins and minerals, a bag of peas rolled/crushed, and barley (rolled), thats the most basic feed mix you can do, that would meet the majority of the pigs requirements, and you could add your freebee stuff on top. Though Its best to start your weaners off on the proper stuff, and then perhaps phase on to your mix, you don't want to get your growers wrong, the sows are slightler easier to please so to speak.
T.G

As Pel points out, 100 kill and cut is a tad extortionate, we pay 30 per pig regardless of size (even cull sows and boars) and that includes everything cutting as we request and boxing/bagging up the only add-on is sausage and bacon
RuthG

Whatever did people do before some big corporation decided they could do it better? Did people never feed pigs the natural way? Eating pellets must be rather like eating Smash instead of proper mash all the time.
Pel

Whatever did people do before some big corporation decided they could do it better? Did people never feed pigs the natural way? Eating pellets must be rather like eating Smash instead of proper mash all the time.


Unfortunately its harder to feed pigs how we use to today with all the rules and regs around it. You cant just feed them barley or one straight as they wouldn't get all they needed, and as far as i understand to do it legally you are meant to have a mixing license and probably now a whole load of other things. Its better to feed pellets and get exactly what they need, than to make up your own feed without getting professional advice of some kind, in case you miss out the important amino acids, minerals and vitamins, they can do a lot of damage if you get them wrong.
Of course in the old days when you fed them scraps, they were mostly healthy, as they ate what we did. But that's quite impossible now.

The natural way would be letting them roam in woods with many acres per family group, most people don't have that kind of luxury, or money to oneside as it highly unlikely to be profitable, the nearest pig i can see doing that is a kune kune herd on grassy pastures. There are a few on here who do run them in the woods, but i expect they give them a feed or two as well.
Rob R

As Pel points out, 100 kill and cut is a tad extortionate, we pay 30 per pig regardless of size (even cull sows and boars) and that includes everything cutting as we request and boxing/bagging up the only add-on is sausage and bacon Blimey 30 to kill, cut and pack! How does that poor guy make any money?? Pel

It was 47 for the biggest sized pig by me (though Ty gwyn would be able to give the most recent value) for kill, cut and pack... sausage on top though. chicken feed

kill and cut around here 40 inc sausages for one slaughter house and 45 for another sausages extra 85p lb then the one we are using atm charge 45ish plus sausages @ 1.09 or burgers @ 1.02lb and a additional 96 for a pig turned into bacon. bayandgrey

25 to kill and 30 to butcher including sausages last time we sent any. we have had a fair few pigs and have never fed them just on pellets, far from it. usually feed barley, small amount of nuts and LOTS of veg, weeds etc. you dont need a license to mix if you just put the food in seperately. you only really need to be precise about feeding if you have high performing comercial pigs, old breeds are much less demanding. if you think about it these type of pigs where traditionally fed scraps and did very well, pellets didnt exist in those days. if you chuck in plenty of veg and weeds you dont need to worry about vitamins and minerals. if i'm honest i get a bit fed up of people trying to make things as complicated as possible when they dont need to be, common sense goes a long way. milkmaid

i know here it's 55 pounds for a kill here , not sure how much for a cut,the local bobtior isn't that great at a chop ,most people go to the local butchers down the road for that , jthorneuk

I meant its not worth changing their food. If savings were there to be made espically from a bi product then I would have used it. However if its not then I would just continue feeding pellets. There is no doubt that the meat is of a far better quality and taste than tesco brought and that is why I have had family and friends who were given joints show interest in buying more and wanting half a pig each. However when I do the maths and it works out at almost 200 to produce that it puts people off.

I think a better option for me would be to sell the joints rather then half or an entire pig. 10 a joint and getting 4 per leg easily covers the costs of the pig with a lot left over.
jthorneuk

Here it costs 25 for killing and 10 for cuting a 100kg pig...

so 35

But then for them to cut it into joints and so on its a further 50 +vat.

So total of 95 to get it back all cut up. I didnt really shop around as I dont really have that option and I didnt really find the butchers that cut it to be very helpfull at all. I explained it was my first time and didnt know how best to get the pigs cut up. I ended up with a load of belly bacon that is really not that nice in taste and the legs were in one massive joint that I then had to cut up into usable sizes.

Its the cutting up that is the costly thing I think. If I could handel half a pig myself then it would be a lot less money.
RuthG

Perhaps you should sign up here: http://forum.downsizer.net/viewtopic.php?t=63788&highlight= bayandgrey

I have thought about doing the butchering myself to save money but have never made the time (or been brave enough) to have a go at it. There is an excellent series of teaching films on the qms website. If I can work out how to do it I will post the link. RuthG

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jthorneuk

Perhaps you should sign up here: http://forum.downsizer.net/viewtopic.php?t=63788&highlight=

Very interesting. Its about 4 hours away though Sad To be honest I made sausages from my cuts of pork last time. The only bit I didnt do was take the bones out as I cut up the entire leg joints into usable sizes myself and I guess cutting the chops.

I think Im going to call around some local butchers and see what they would charge.
Rob R

I'd recommend the River Cottage DVD 'Pig in a Day', not a substitute for a course but hand to refer back to when you're actually doing the job. I have a few new copies left in a box here, really should sell them off... sean

Don't forget Bebo and Wellinton Womble's articles. T.G

As Pel points out, 100 kill and cut is a tad extortionate, we pay 30 per pig regardless of size (even cull sows and boars) and that includes everything cutting as we request and boxing/bagging up the only add-on is sausage and bacon Blimey 30 to kill, cut and pack! How does that poor guy make any money??

The packing comes from me asking politely if he'd mind, I guess being heavily pregnant at the time and having a broken hand in a sling and a bandaged hand may have also swung it - the cut and kill is 30, but then I did ask if he'd package the meat for me before the hand injuries... so maybe it's my winning smile Wink

They were featured on, is it country file?, or one of the tv programmes of that ilk a couple of days ago - very nice set of butchers Smile
Rob R

As Pel points out, 100 kill and cut is a tad extortionate, we pay 30 per pig regardless of size (even cull sows and boars) and that includes everything cutting as we request and boxing/bagging up the only add-on is sausage and bacon Blimey 30 to kill, cut and pack! How does that poor guy make any money??

The packing comes from me asking politely if he'd mind, I guess being heavily pregnant at the time and having a broken hand in a sling and a bandaged hand may have also swung it - the cut and kill is 30, but then I did ask if he'd package the meat for me before the hand injuries... so maybe it's my winning smile Wink

They were featured on, is it country file?, or one of the tv programmes of that ilk a couple of days ago - very nice set of butchers Smile

Hmm, I'm not quite prepared to break a hand, and being heavily pregnant is perhaps a little beyond me, too. Laughing

What are they called, I'll look it up on iplayer (just out of curiosities sake). Smile
T.G

Mettricks - I was told yesterday by the chap who I roped into helping me take our last lot there, that they were featured on the TV prog - haven't seen it myself Rob R

Ah, yes, the Kill It, Cut It, Use It chap, I have seen it Cool T.G

Was it any good? iplayer is beyond my one handed typing at the moment Rob R

If you like watching the process of animals being slaughtered and/or are interested in the products they make from them (and clueless reactions of selected consumers) then it's brilliant. T.G

read 'any good' as interesting - not fussed about seeing animals slaughtered either way - not that I'd go out of my way to watch or avoid - the clueless expressions... crikey that would be me when they asked me for a cutting list the very first time - cutting list - no one told me there was homework - I think they assume I'm an idiot and lead me by the hand (they're not far off the mark Wink ) Bodger

So i could get some apple left overs in bult and exchange them for a 50/50 mix with nutts?

Make sure you get the apple waste as fresh as possible or you'll have pissed pigs. Wine
I'm getting four weaners at the nd of the month and the waste from my cider making activities will be figuring large in their diet.

My pigs will be real 'alkies' because they will also be getting beer slops from the local pub.
Lorrainelovesplants

I have to say that I have had pork that tasted crap, and found out afterwards that they were basically fed crap, so perhaps dont skimp too much on proper rations.......

It certainly stopped us buying pork for a while.
Bodger

Yup but remember that some so called 'proper' rations are crap too. Mrs R

Yeh I mean pig pellets are just bland standardised whatever-is-cheapest-and-fits-the-spec. Fruit, veg, milk, grass etc are all flavoursome foods I would be happy to eat. sean

You'll be wasting your time with grass I reckon. Wink Mrs R

If you get the right bits it's nice! Nick

You'd still die of starvation, tho. Mrs R

did I say 'exclusively grass'??? Rolling Eyes a little supplementation does no harm, although I do mostly leave it to those better equipped for it...then eat them. T.G

the term 'bulk' covers a multitude of sins in a bag of pre-produced feed bayandgrey

Finally got round to posting the link for qms "cutting" films, sorry for the delay. these films are intended for training young butchers so are pretty thorough. http://www.qmscotland.co.uk/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=112&Itemid=65 Kenworth

We always kept our hogs in a large lot when we were finishing them out. Their diet included wild grasses and roots, and we kept a 55 gallon drum of mash working for them all of the time.

This mash included leftover dairy products, purchased grains and water to keep it in a soluable form.

The hogs take a bit longer to get up to butcher weight, but the meat is very nice.

Butchering is not a great science. The important factors are having the proper equipment and being able to cool down the meat properly once you have the carcas.

If you don't mind me asking, how do you preserve the meat? Deep freezer?
jthorneuk

Yes I keep the meat in a deep freezer. I actually have access to a large walk in freezer and a stainless kitchen so I could actually do it there. I just never thought about it....

With regards to the Apple left overs. I have been in contact with Thatchers Cider (2 miles from my house) and they will do 8 a tonn delivered. However the bloke said that pigs dont really like to eat it as they cant digest it that well. Sheep are ok on it but its best really for cows. He siad its not really worth it because if their digestion causes thewm problems then you have problems. Cows he would say go for it. Pigs are not a good idea...and its only available towards September time..

I think ill just stick to feeding sow nutts and maybe look at cutting up myself.
kaybee

Quote:
[I think ill just stick to feeding sow nutts and maybe look at cutting up myself.
]


Think you are right. There isn't a cheap way to feed pigs well I'm afraid. If there was then there wouldn't be thousands of pigs being culled over the past year as the feed prices rocketed. I've been breeding and finishing pigs for 6 years - roughly 40 pigs per year, at my busiest I was killing a pig a week and then dropped back to pig every other week and have anything up to 50 pigs here at a time of various ages, and when I started pig feed was 60/70 per tonne and now I'm paying 240/tonne. I started at first with sow nuts, then I bought a small mill and grew a couple of acres of wheat, oats and barley - well that was a lot of sweat and stress harvesting by hand lol! and lasted the pigs roughly 6 weeks but was interesting experiment! Then I bought in whole wheat and barley by the tonne and milled and mixed my own rations, hmmm...., we tried supplementing with fodder beet, every autumn we feed barrels of windfall apples and they get all our garden waste, pernicious weeds etc as well as being free to graze and root all year round with acorn pannage from mature oaks in autumn. Now I buy in feed by the tonne which a farmer friend gets milled from his own grain plus bought in soya and minerals for his pigs and mine. It is 14% protein and then we add further soya to increase protein content for lactating sows and suckling pigs/weaners. I've looked into all sorts of alternative protein too to get away from the soya issue but there is nothing legal available to me (fish waste from the local fish monger and broken eggs from local chicken farm - both perfect high protein sources and recycling - illegal at my scale or a nightmare to organise) Dairy waste/whey is OK if there is a cheesemaker near you - but pigs fed on too much dairy waste can get fat I'm told if they are traditional breeds. I sold a whole litter to one person with careful instructions as to how to finish them. By the time he finished them they were so fat they were circular he said which I couldn't understand - but it turned out on questioning they had access to ad lib dried fruit waste. So no wonder...

The thing to remember is if you are finishing a couple of weaners for your own freezer then you can feed them on pretty much anything healthy and the meat will taste good and that's fine. We finished our first few Large Blacks on sow nuts and loads of apples and acorns and it was fab meat. That is the beauty of traditional breeds, as long as they do get a balanced diet and don't get fed rubbish. Genuine waste products and bad food are not equals!

But if you are breeding pigs they MUST have good quality protein/feed, this is really important or you will end up throwing good money after bad and please don't ask me how I know this.....
Also if you are finishing pigs for meat for sale then you have to finish them on proper feed - it is too hit and miss else. If you have traditional breeds they are slower growing and you cannot "push" them the way commercial breeds are - again I learned the hard way how to do this, now I can finish a pig with just about the right amount of fat but I still get the odd one that has a touch too much fat which some folks really don't like and it's too late when the pig is dead to find a customer that doesn't mind the extra layer - then again some really appreciate the extra flavour so if it's too lean then it's not what they were expecting. If you make sausages then you do need fat. But too much and then people will complain that it runs out in the cooking. And so on.... It's easier to get what you are aiming for with purpose made feed - whether that's home rations or bought nuts. Feed lots of fresh stuff yes, but make pig feed the back bone of the diet. I think I had some info from Welsh Border pig breeders club years ago on home rations if you are interested in that route, try contacting your local pig club. It's easy to daydream about the good old days when you finished weaners on skim milk and loaves of stale bread - they wanted fat pigs then though! Your average customer will not want excess fat. Gourmets, smallholders, older generations etc will understand the flavour is in the fat and bone but it is uphill convincing the rest of the population. Honest.

I pay 36 or 45 for kill, cut and pack depending on which abattoir I use. The cheaper one is better but 81 mile round trip, the other 16miles. I prefer to use the further one but with fuel costs/time etc I can't afford to now except for certain circumstances. I think 45 is a lot frankly esp as most of mine is pork trim the whole animal for my sausage business (boned,skinned and left in primals) It is possible to do your own butchery - I don't have the time, it is more economic to pay for me. You can do what you like for your own consumption but if you are planning on selling any meat you must be approved by your local EHO, if you work with them they will help you but if you try to get away with things the penalty is high. Not worth it. I've always had good relations with my EHO's but I know others who try to get away with not complying and find the same really nice people a nightmare to get off their backs - they are just doing a job to protect the general public's health after all. So either just do stuff for yourself which is no one's business but yours or do it through the proper channels to play it safe.

It's sad but true that pigs generally make a loss right now. You can't put a price on having your own meat so maybe that doesn't matter if it's for you. But as a business - don't add up sorry. It used to until last year and maybe it will again, pigs always go up and down - boom and bust they always say round here with pigs. Just worth mentioning before you start breeding if you are worried about costs already. Keep it small to start and find customers before you increase.

Best wishes![/quote]
Mrs R

Our home milled ration is field beans, barley and wheat - absolutely NO imported soya or GM ingredients. It's supplemented with things as we get them - apples, veg, milk, whey etc. We have 4/5 sows, 2 boars and all their litters. They do fine, this is where rare breeds shine. No, they won't finish as fast as a commercial pig, but they are doing it at an equivalent cost, making use of waste and with far more flavour. If you want fast finishing and don't mind what they taste like....get a commercial pig!

Milk won't make a pig fat, giving it too much will make it fat, same as anything.
kaybee

Quote:
[Milk won't make a pig fat, giving it too much will make it fat, same as anything.]


Yup that's what I said! Too much dairy - we gave ours all our surplus goats milk until we stopped milking and they loved it and it was a great way of using the surplus. But when I first started making enquiries about alternative protein sources on a larger scale from someone who was more experienced than me he said whey etc was superb for pigs but he'd come across folks who'd relied too much on it and the pigs were killing out fatter because of it. Think he was trying to warn me. As in anything, balanced diet is key. That's what I was trying to point out in my previous post. It is entirely possible to make home rations but not everyone will want to get into the nutritional side of it eg how much protein each feed substance contains. For 2 or 3 weaners it's really not an issue, if that's all I had I would feed more waste products and less bought feed but I've come across customers recently wanting to start in pigs and thinking that they can economise on feed which if you want good pigs you just can't. I think it's important to emphasise this because at the end of the day the pigs are the ones who are going to suffer.

I agree about slow growing - personally I think this is a major point of rearing your own meat. You can afford to finish slowly rather than force them. I never slaughter any pigs before 7 months and will take most of them on longer. Not economic perhaps but the flavour is excellent and I think they have a good life too. I don't eat lamb now either, everything I have is now grown on for mutton.

You are lucky to have the field beans, I considered growing some but couldn't source any as feed locally and by that stage gave up on trying to grow cereal/field crops due to other pressures overtaking here at home. Your rations sound fab, bet your pork tastes lovely![/quote]
Paul Sill

Depending on the amount of feed you buy at a time, BOCM are not far from you. Although I think the portbury site only supplies bulk, 25kg bags are processed at another site, cant quite remember which one though. dpack

growing things is good ,squashes and pumpkins are ace on midden sides and damp places no usually used

defra friendly unused food is good ,horse rejects etc

woodland forage is very underused ,panage is a valuable right to claim or assume til proved wrong as i prefer to put it Wink

working as gruntivators on garden land has many benifits
funky_monks

I've finished pigs on rolled barley - it does make them run to fat if you aren't careful and I always chuck whatever greenery I can get at them too, to balance their diet. It needs soaking.

Of course, to do this you need a helpful local mixed/arable farmer who has a roller.

I think a dustbinful used to cost a couple of quid.

Not kept pigs since 2010 though, so I dunno what grain prices are.
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