http://youtu.be/ftn4VSjF8sk Raising pigs on pasture is something that I am very excited about adding into the farm this year. I already have my 12 pigs reserved for the spring. I intend to raise feeder pigs rotating on pasture throughout the summer and sell them by the whole and half in the fall. The breed that I am getting are Yorkshire Landrace Crosses. I am definitely not the only one excited about bringing pigs on farm. I already have people reserving them and it looks to be a fairly successful addition.
To download this excel file:
Farm Marketing Solutions is founding on the idea of mutual support and transparency. If you would like to download the excel file that I am using in the video you can scroll to the bottom of the post and enteryour name and email address to subscribe to our email newsletter. The first email from us that you will receive will be a link to download the excel file as well as all the previous excel files from the other areas of the budget.
Once subscribed I will send you (kind of) weekly emails with the new areas of the budget as well as updates on what content I've posted on various places on the internet. I promise to keep it simple, useful, and to the point.
That's Kate bonding with some piglets that we met a few years back.
Adding a new operation to your farm:
One of the best pieces of advice I can give is to start slow when adding something on to your farm. Start with just a few (of whatever) and grow it as you feel comfortable. You will make a 1000 mistakes, there will be a steep learning curve, and you will appreciate not being overwhelmed by a large volume of product if the market doesn't respond the way you expect.
Now, I think I will have a great market for the pork. There are people already reserving pigs which is incredible. My hang up is that I have not raised pigs on pasture before and I have not raised them in this area where I'm not entirely sure where I'm going to take them when it's time for processing. So many things to figure out.
I am starting small for my scale at 12 pigs because that's where I feel comfortable but it's still a better scale for me than raising 3 pigs. I've done this with other areas of the farm in the past and it's how I started in with chickens a couple of years ago. Enough to make some money while not crushing myself.
Steps to adding a new operation on to your farm:
- Start slow at a small scale
- Figure out all the details (feed, processing, growing techniques, etc...)
- Keep diligent records
- Develop your market
- Keep diligent records
- Scaleup next year if you feel comfortable
You'll note what's in there twice. Keeping diligent records. This is a mistake I have made in the past and one that I hope to rectify with the Farm Finance Challenge. Diligent record keeping is something every business should have to assess profitability and over-all financial health of the business. Even if you are doing it on a homestead scale. A business is a business and bills have to paid.
You can bet that this year with a new operation I will be writing down everything so that when it comes time to budgeting next year I have accurate numbers to make an educated prediction of my year.
Already since the publication of my video I have 9 comments about how other peoples' numbers are different than mine. Especially on processing. I have budgeted about $400 per pig for processing and there are other people who are paying $133 per pig. That's a $267 difference! Multiply that by 12 pigs and that's $3204. I mean, that's crazy! We'll see what happens with me this year.
I also already have a change to my own budget. I budgeted $150 per piglet and was even expecting to pay a little more. When I confirmed my pigs this winter I also confirmed the price. I'm paying $95 per pig and not the $150 that I thought. So I'm already doing better than I thought.
The lesson learned here is that a number is just a number until it's changed. You can make your budget look like whatever you want. I made mine pessamistic because I wanted to be prepared for the worst case scenario. If I wasn't able to handle the worst than I had no buffer and that's a stressful place to be for me.
As the budget sits right now I'm at a predicted loss for the whole year. And that's fine. It is now my goal to change my plan around, adjust my growing techniques, and find where the holes in the boat are so that I end the year closer to break even. Remember, I'm in a brand new business and for all intents and purposes this is year two. Hard to be overly profitable on a farm in year two, but I'm working as hard as I can at it.
Raising pigs on pasture:
A slightly younger, much less stressed version of me gives a pig a belly-rub out on Tara Firma Farm in California.
Like I said in the beginning of the post I have never raised pigson my farm before. I have some experience but there will be a lot of learning going on. I am adding them in because they attract people, we're know for being a protein farm and this is a welcome addition to our products, we have good land for pigs, and they are good at processing brewers' grain (and we have an on farm brewery).
Because I'm learning I will be relying on the places I know where I can get some good information on pig raising.
- Forrest Pritchard has a great article on raising pigs on pasture and the lessons he has learned. That puts be a couple years ahead of my initial mistakes already.
- My friend Ethan Book over at The Beginning Farmer raises a lot of pigs on pasture and I have his phone number on speed dial.
- I am part of an amazing Facebook group about pastured pigs.
- My friend Austin at This is Homesteady raises pigs locally near me (I know, I have some in my freezer)
- All that, and I'm not afraid to ask questions of anyone I think might have some pig experience.
Thanks for taking the time to read this far. As farmers we are a community and as a community we need to support each other. Publishing my content is my chance to give back and to ask for support. I get all sorts of comments on my content and they are all appreciated. If I am ever slow to get back to you it is not because I'm not thinking about you or because I'm too lazy, haha. It is often the opposite. Even though I love having running Farm Marketing Solutions, my farm always comes first. And you know that running a farm takes a lot of work. Thank you for your patience, understanding at my typos, and your support with what I am trying to do.