For us the pigs bring home the bacon. They pay the mortgage.
We were not able to make meat poultry work for us. Birds that grew well enough just wanted to be fed and sat around. Birds that foraged for their food in the pasture weren't as marketable. Egg money is too small, just chicken feed.
We're very good at raising sheep but the cost of processing ate up about 90% of the price we sold the meat for so we couldn't pay the mortgage with them. Limited market too.
With pigs the cost of raising them and processing is about 50% to 70% after infrastructure so we make a lot more money per pig. There is also a larger market for pigs than with sheep. Our sheep taught our pigs to graze and eat hay. Before we knew it we were pastured pig farmers. That was about a decade ago. Since then we've developed our own genetic line through hard selective breeding, put about 70 acres under pasture and got a lot of our infrastructure built up.
Things have gone well enough that our pastured pork farm is what we do. We have no outside jobs other than our farming. We sell on a regular weekly delivery route to local stores and restaurants as well as some CSA and whole pig customers plus roaster pigs in season and then weaner pigs in the spring. Doing weekly sales instead of seasonal means there is regular cash flow.
We're just finishing up on building our own on-farm USDA/State inspected butchershop so that we can be more vertically integrated and capture that roughly 50% of the pig costs for processing. That will also cut down my wife's driving as right now she trucks the pigs about six hours to the butcher each week. Once we have on-farm slaughter, the next big step, we'll be able to gradually increase our numbers from 300 to 400 pigs on-farm to our goal of around 500 to 600.
It keeps us busy, off the streets and out of trouble.
We have about 60 breeding sows and four breeder boars. Since we sell to stores and restaurants who need weekly fresh delivery we farrow piglets all year round including in the spring when there's a large demand for feeder weaners people want to raise over the warm months (spring piglets).
A roaster pig is one that is scalded & scraped to prepare it for pit, spit, oven, box or otherwise roasting it typically for a party. The oven roasters typically requested are in the 17 lb to 45 lbs and then larger ones up to 200 lbs for spit and pit roasting.