If you are looking at getting a pig or a half pig butchered, here is what to expect when buying a whole pig to fill your freezer.
Not only is having a freezer full of meat food security, especially after 2020, but having the option of buying the cuts of meat that are typically spendy at a grocery store or cuts that you cant even buy. Have you ever seen real lard at your local Walmart? It makes the buying a whole pig worth it.
Here is the entire process of buying a whole pig laid out for you, so you know how to order live animals from a local farmer.
Buying a Whole Pig
Step One: Find a Farmer
Typically, you can just google or check facebook marketplace to find any local farmers that will raise whole pigs to sell outright to the customer. However, there is this new app available that I think is amazing. It’s called farmish. Farmish allows you to search on a map for products for sale. It allows you to connect with local farmers and growers in your area to supply your dinner table or your pantry.
Step Two: Pay the Farmer
You will probably have to put a down payment on your farm-fresh pork. The deposit amount is different for every farmer, but you can expect about half of what the cost of the pig will be. For an idea, in 2022, I paid my farmer $350 per pig. Remember though, there will be additional fees from the butcher.
Step Three: Wait
Now, the suckling pig has to grow into a grown animal. Unless you found a farmer that has some available already close to butcher age. The relationship with my farmer is, that every year, I tell them in the fall how many pigs I will want to buy for the next year.
Step Four: Figure Out What Pork Cuts You Want
Make a list of any special cuts you want. Ideally, get this done before the processing date. There is nothing worse than having to figure out last minute how much pork should be ground and how much pork should be roast.
At the end of this post, you will find a list of general cuts to choose from. However, keep in mind your family size when making the list. For instance, if your family is on the larger size, you will want larger packs of bacon. In our family of 8, we get bacon in 2 lb. packages, although I still normally have to take out two packages. For roasts, we choose closer to the 6 lb. size. Spend a Sunday morning throwing a roast in the crockpot and it makes an easy meal! However, if you have only 2 people in your family, the smaller pieces will fit your lifestyle best. Also, make sure to keep the organ meat. It is so good for you!
Step Five: Call the Butcher
You will get a phone call from the farmer telling you the pig is ready to be butchered. They will tell you when the pigs will be going into the butcher shop and that it’s time to call the butcher. This is where things can get scary if you have never ordered whole animals before.
There will be something called a hog’s live weight, which is the weight of the pig when it is alive, hooves on the ground. Then you will have something called hanging weight, which is the weight after it has been field dressed, before being cut into pieces, smoked, cured, and packaged. The size of the pig versus the amount of meat you get will be different based on the breed of pig and how the pig was raised. You can expect to get around 57% of the pig back in meat cuts.
Pro tip: Around this time, it is a great idea to thaw out your deep freezer and give it a really good cleaning!
Step Six: Pick Up the Pork
The time has come! Around 2-2.5 weeks after telling the butcher what cuts of pork you want, they will call you saying it’s ready to be picked up. Clear your trunk and head to the butcher. When you arrive, you will pay your butcher fees and bring the meat out to your car. Make sure you backed into the parking lot, parking close to the door, just to make it easier on them.
The amount of money this will cost depends on how much meat you got, the cuts you chose, and if there was any special seasonings you chose. Each butcher shop will have their own prices as well.
For an idea, in 2022, here was my butcher costs for one pig.
- Hog Slaughter $80
- Processing (220 lb. pig at .75 per pound) $165
- Curing (69 lbs of meat at 1.45 per pound) $100.05
- Seasoning for sausage (9 lbs. at $1.00 per pound) $9.00
The total cost was $369.98 with tax.
Step Seven: Put the Pork Away
When you arrive home, place the meat into the freezer. You officially got a lot of meat! Use a whole ham for holiday dinners, any special occasion, or just to spice up a mid-week slump! It is so nice to have the bulk sausage and thick cut bacon looking back at you once it is all put away.
The amount of freezer space needed is typically 1 cubic foot of freezer space for every 15-20 pounds of meat. To get an idea of that, the interior of a milk crate is one cubic foot.
When time allows, grab the box of lard and render it down. Another great idea is to pull some roasts out and pressure can them for quick meals.
List of Optional Pork Cuts to Order When Buying a Whole Pig
Here is a list of pork cuts that I have ordered in the past. You can choose boneless cuts of bone in cuts. Personally, I always keep the bone in because it provides more flavor.
- Sausage (ground, links, or patty form)
- Ground Pork
- Hams (cured & smoked)
- Spare ribs
- Brats (cheddar)
- Pork chops (3/4″)
- Ham hock
- Boston butt aka pork butt
- Picnic roast
- Shoulder steaks
- Loin roast
- Ham steak
Don’t forget to tell them you want to keep the lard.