• Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic
permaculture forums growies critters building homesteading energy monies kitchen purity ungarbage community wilderness fiber arts art permaculture artisans regional education experiences global resources the cider press projects digital market permies.com private forums all forums
this forum made possible by our volunteer staff, including ...
master stewards:
  • Nicole Alderman
  • r ranson
  • Anne Miller
  • paul wheaton
stewards:
  • Jocelyn Campbell
  • Mike Jay Haasl
  • Burra Maluca
garden masters:
  • James Freyr
  • Joylynn Hardesty
  • Steve Thorn
  • Greg Martin
gardeners:
  • Carla Burke
  • Dave Burton
  • Pearl Sutton

I don't know how anyone manages to make money selling things. I think I need to quit pigs.

 
Posts: 1978
Location: Zone 5 Wyoming
157
kids duck forest garden chicken pig bee greening the desert homestead
  • Likes 3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
The goal with the pigs was to have fun animals running about, feed us, and make enough money off them to make the ones we eat essentially free. It has not turned out that way. Now that we finally have piglets (3 years into the venture) I can't sell any of them. I see people selling piglets for $60 and that would not cover much of anything in the way of costs. For that price I'd rather eat them all myself. We know people who do make money selling their pigs but I think they are successful for 2 main reasons: they have the traditional commercial pigs that grow very fast and thus can be sold very quickly AND they sell in bulk. American Guinea Hogs take about a year to reach full size, so not quick. We might have bulk now, as we officially have 15 pigs (11 babies). I just can't sell any. What am I doing wrong here? We were talking about it and to keep 15 pigs over winter is just too much. We can't continue like this if none of them sell. :(
 
Posts: 37
Location: The Great PNW
7
purity fungi foraging chicken medical herbs homestead
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I can relate to your struggles, its hard!! So, have you ever read any of Joel Salatins books? Hes my sustainable farming go to who i plan on mirroring my long term small farm ventures after. Anyways, he has a lot of good stuff out there and one of the biggest takeaways I got from reading his books is that farming is 100% a BUSINESS. You have to think of a farm from an entrepreneur/business person mindset, or it is very tough to make enough monies to sustain operations and living, without having to rely on outside income (ie- getting a job). Even with outside income, sometimes its still tough because all your livestock does for you is help you Lose money. Which is no good, and undesirable, as well. How is that sustainable? Well, its really not. At that point all youre doing is raising animals for fun, which is cool if thats what you want to do, but they are a drain on funds, kind of like a boat, or pets. Boats and pets are wonderful! But they absolutely drain money, with really no return to you other than companionship and fun.
So the book id specifically recommend is called "You Can Farm". Its a really good all encompassing book that goes into the business side of farming (on all scales) and why its so important, what to do, and how to get returns for your hard work. Ive read a few of his others like Pastured Poultry and Everything I want to do Is Illegal, theyre both fantastic, too.
From what ive read above, i think the a solution could be to obtain a pig that grows out to size quicker and maybe try it that way, or even try some alternative feed ideas to where the keeping cost of the pigs can be reduced. I read about how Joel uses his pigs to help turn his compost a few times a year and it serves two purposes, one to feed the pigs something new and fun, and two to turn the compost without having to use big greenhouse gases causing machinery (he has a BIG compost pile). I think there may be some out of the box ideas like this to feed your pigs naturally, if you havent done anything like that before, maybe take a look? Im not super experienced with pigs myself, so I dont have a ton of ideas, but i wish you the best!! Hopefully that helps

Take care :)
 
elle sagenev
Posts: 1978
Location: Zone 5 Wyoming
157
kids duck forest garden chicken pig bee greening the desert homestead
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Michelle Arbol wrote:I can relate to your struggles, its hard!! So, have you ever read any of Joel Salatins books? Hes my sustainable farming go to who i plan on mirroring my long term small farm ventures after. Anyways, he has a lot of good stuff out there and one of the biggest takeaways I got from reading his books is that farming is 100% a BUSINESS. You have to think of a farm from an entrepreneur/business person mindset, or it is very tough to make enough monies to sustain operations and living, without having to rely on outside income (ie- getting a job). Even with outside income, sometimes its still tough because all your livestock does for you is help you Lose money. Which is no good, and undesirable, as well. How is that sustainable? Well, its really not. At that point all youre doing is raising animals for fun, which is cool if thats what you want to do, but they are a drain on funds, kind of like a boat, or pets. Boats and pets are wonderful! But they absolutely drain money, with really no return to you other than companionship and fun.
So the book id specifically recommend is called "You Can Farm". Its a really good all encompassing book that goes into the business side of farming (on all scales) and why its so important, what to do, and how to get returns for your hard work. Ive read a few of his others like Pastured Poultry and Everything I want to do Is Illegal, theyre both fantastic, too.
From what ive read above, i think the a solution could be to obtain a pig that grows out to size quicker and maybe try it that way, or even try some alternative feed ideas to where the keeping cost of the pigs can be reduced. I read about how Joel uses his pigs to help turn his compost a few times a year and it serves two purposes, one to feed the pigs something new and fun, and two to turn the compost without having to use big greenhouse gases causing machinery (he has a BIG compost pile). I think there may be some out of the box ideas like this to feed your pigs naturally, if you havent done anything like that before, maybe take a look? Im not super experienced with pigs myself, so I dont have a ton of ideas, but i wish you the best!! Hopefully that helps

Take care :)



I have a pretty good system of feed for spring/summer/fall. The problem being that in Wyoming winter is at least 6 months. So half the year I HAVE to feed them bagged food/hay. That can get pretty expensive!
 
pollinator
Posts: 546
Location: Denmark 57N
120
fungi foraging trees cooking food preservation
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
It's not going to matter how cheaply you can raise them if they won't sell.

What price are you trying to sell them at, and who is the market you think will want to buy them? If there are pigs for sale at $60 unless yours are something special and have papers you probably cannot sell them for much/anymore than that.

A very quick look at the free adds here showed me that I can buy a piglet for the equivalent of $73 of mixed heritage, and I can buy a 8 month old 80lb danish landrace for the same price. if I wish to buy peoples free range pork (they take the animal to the slaughter house I pick it up) it costs $3.3 a lb. So for me I would never buy a pig where the pig/feed/slaughter costs were going to cost me more than that.
 
elle sagenev
Posts: 1978
Location: Zone 5 Wyoming
157
kids duck forest garden chicken pig bee greening the desert homestead
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Skandi Rogers wrote:It's not going to matter how cheaply you can raise them if they won't sell.

What price are you trying to sell them at, and who is the market you think will want to buy them? If there are pigs for sale at $60 unless yours are something special and have papers you probably cannot sell them for much/anymore than that.

A very quick look at the free adds here showed me that I can buy a piglet for the equivalent of $73 of mixed heritage, and I can buy a 8 month old 80lb danish landrace for the same price. if I wish to buy peoples free range pork (they take the animal to the slaughter house I pick it up) it costs $3.3 a lb. So for me I would never buy a pig where the pig/feed/slaughter costs were going to cost me more than that.



Non-heritage feeder pigs have a usual posting price of $150. I have mine listed $50 more than that, though if someone asked I'd happily take $150. The $60 was the first time I'd seen that post and it was sad. It is the only listing for that low price but obviously it throws everyone else off. Part of the problem may be that it's fall. Who buys animals in the fall aye. If we keep them over the winter they'll be fully grown in spring and I think we would have them butchered and just sell the meat.

There is a growing interest in raising food around here and people are buying a lot of the land for outrageous sums around here. I figured I'd sell them to other people like me, who want to have good quality meat they raised.
 
Posts: 291
Location: Carbon Hill, AL
23
  • Likes 5
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Are you trying to sell just piglets?   If so i believe it’s the wrong time of the year for piglets.

Not many people want to have the burden of raising piglets through the winter.  


Piglets in early spring ( feb-March) s a good time to start raising piglets for people who want to harvest a full grown 300lb+ hog in the fall.

Piglets in early summer (April-May) is a good time for people wanting to feed out aroasting pig for July 4th.

Breeds play a large part in being able to demand a high price for piglets.
Pure breeds with papers that kids can raise for 4H club are good but have a higher initial cost.
Rare heritage breeds.  AGH, Mangalista, Kune Kune are other good choices.

Advertising or market demand are other reasons things don’t sell.

If you search your area for piglets for sale. How many pop up?

Craigslist is a good free standard.
Up until recently we was able to sell in FB livestock groups.

Have you put up a sign at the end of your driveway or posted a flyer at a local feed store?
 
Posts: 37
2
goat cat duck
  • Likes 6
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Jay Grace wrote:Are you trying to sell just piglets?   If so i believe it’s the wrong time of the year for piglets.

Not many people want to have the burden of raising piglets through the winter.  





This - I actually strongly disagree with the other posts about treating farming like a business, I think its this mindset that leads you to a place with too many pigs to eat or sell. Jay Grace hit it on the head though, the whole reason to raise a heritage guinea hog would be your own meat but also to add pork as an item you sell at markets. In this context, you would carefully plan your litter to Spring for the cheapest fattening, and consequently, thats when you can convince homesteaders and small farms to take on a few piglets for their consumption.

Pigs are not for the faint of heart but it doesn't mean you have to raise commercial breeds in order to be marketable; but you have to plan your feed 1 year ahead and slaughter should also be on that horizon as well. You are raising a 300 Lb animal, it sounds like it might be too much, if I can recommend a solution:

Sell your breeding pair as proven to recoup as much of your investment as possible, raise some of the piglets for pork. From there pick a different animal with less feed pressure especially for winter.






 
elle sagenev
Posts: 1978
Location: Zone 5 Wyoming
157
kids duck forest garden chicken pig bee greening the desert homestead
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Lucas Green wrote:

Jay Grace wrote:Are you trying to sell just piglets?   If so i believe it’s the wrong time of the year for piglets.

Not many people want to have the burden of raising piglets through the winter.  



This - I actually strongly disagree with the other posts about treating farming like a business, I think its this mindset that leads you to a place with too many pigs to eat or sell. Jay Grace hit it on the head though, the whole reason to raise a heritage guinea hog would be your own meat but also to add pork as an item you sell at markets. In this context, you would carefully plan your litter to Spring for the cheapest fattening, and consequently, thats when you can convince homesteaders and small farms to take on a few piglets for their consumption.

Pigs are not for the faint of heart but it doesn't mean you have to raise commercial breeds in order to be marketable; but you have to plan your feed 1 year ahead and slaughter should also be on that horizon as well. You are raising a 300 Lb animal, it sounds like it might be too much, if I can recommend a solution:

Sell your breeding pair as proven to recoup as much of your investment as possible, raise some of the piglets for pork. From there pick a different animal with less feed pressure especially for winter.



Man this is the first year that breeding was successful at all. It was a surprise to us to be honest. Our springs suck and we had a lot of piglets die of the cold before. This year we finally got it right and had success. Which ended up in us getting 11 piglets in a year, which is a helluva lot more than anticipated. So I'm not going to argue with you, we got stupid. We don't earn our living off these pigs, we just wanted to be able to eat some and sell the excess. It would be nice to sell some though and yeah, that isn't happening. Though to be fair I've been trying to sell them for a bit over a month. Just not working out. I suck at this.
 
gardener
Posts: 2694
Location: Central Texas zone 8a
495
cattle chicken bee sheep
  • Likes 4
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I think the marketing side is key. Small scale animals are expensive. Your ability to convince people to spend several times more for something that could be bought easliy and cheaply elsewhere is hard to do. Joel Saliton has figured it out. I suspect 1,000's of others have not.

Look at my turkeys. I'd have to get $100 for a live turkey or $150 for a cleaned turkey. Your reaction might be "heck no, im not paying $150 for a turkey". If that is your reaction, then you might be trying to sell something to someone that you would not be willing to buy yourself. This would not make you an effective sales person.

You have to believe something about it that is worth it. They were "happy pigs" that had a "happy life" is a valid point to bring up because they are no longer supporting the whole animal factory cruelty thing. This adds value to many people. "No hormones" may be another.

Let me end this by saying i feed myself first. I am not a marketer of meat to strangers. I just know that small scale raising puts you at an extreme disadvantage on cost. You have to sell on something besides price.
 
elle sagenev
Posts: 1978
Location: Zone 5 Wyoming
157
kids duck forest garden chicken pig bee greening the desert homestead
  • Likes 3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

wayne fajkus wrote:I think the marketing side is key. Small scale animals are expensive. Your ability to convince people to spend several times more for something that could be bought easliy and cheaply elsewhere is hard to do. Joel Saliton has figured it out. I suspect 1,000's of others have not.

Look at my turkeys. I'd have to get $100 for a live turkey or $150 for a cleaned turkey. Your reaction might be "heck no, im not paying $150 for a turkey". If that is your reaction, then you might be trying to sell something to someone that you would not be willing to buy yourself. This would not make you an effective sales person.

You have to believe something about it that is worth it. They were "happy pigs" that had a "happy life" is a valid point to bring up because they are no longer supporting the whole animal factory cruelty thing. This adds value to many people. "No hormones" may be another.

Let me end this by saying i feed myself first. I am not a marketer of meat to strangers. I just know that small scale raising puts you at an extreme disadvantage on cost. You have to sell on something besides price.



I do try to advertise how easy they are to keep. I've gotten my pigs super overly obese quite on accident. I can not feed them for months and just let them graze and they're fine. So they're friendly, easy keepers who are good with children and other livestock. That's how I put it in my ads at least.

I put up a video this weekend of a whole pack of my piglets (who can fit through the slats of our gate) following me and oinking. I've had 3 people request pricing on that video. So perhaps that's the way to go.
 
master pollinator
Posts: 4004
916
transportation cat duck trees rabbit books chicken woodworking
  • Likes 6
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
You have hit on a key point I just made this afternoon to a USDA person: farming as a business model is inverted. We buy at retail prices, and are forced to sell at wholesale prices. How can we make money doing that. I realize people just say, "well them at retail prices", but just try and do that, it is not very easy. I have heard the boasting of those people selling high priced meat, but how many did they sell at that price? Are they still selling for that rate? More often then not, I am forced to sell my lambs to livestock dealers just so I can get that check immediately to meet other expense needs.

If I eat my own livestock, at best I lose valuable cash for other living expenses, and at worst it was to be a replacement for my breeding stock, so I lose valuable cash not only today, but every year down the road.

It is really tough, and I do not have the answer for livestock owners whether it is pigs, lambs, beef, etc. Unlike the direct relation of market gardening where you grow then sell, with livestock, there is the third element of where you have to grow the animal, but also grow a crop to feed the animal, and then sell the animal itself. That extra step is what eliminates the profit.

What makes farming profitable for me is the benefits that come with having a farm. There is the tax savings on the land, but also the conservation grants that I have got over the years, but also the low interst loans. In all, because I actively farm, my farm is really improving. That ha merit.

The other aspect is, with a farm all those assets add up. Even a small flock of sheep has significant value. If I need some cash, I can part with 10 lambs...even at wholesale prices...and make $1500. Sometimes that $1500 is CRITICAL. I might be operating at a loss, but the loss is spread out over the life of the lamb, while the sale nets me instant cash.

The final thing not indicated so far, is the value of the meat. My family eats $10,200 worth of food per year almost consistently. If I slaughter my own livestock to fill my freezer, the feed price for my family goes down. I mean that is 60 pounds of meat I do not have to buy per self-slaughtered lamb put in our own freezer. But the kicker is, the cost of raising that lamb is kind of hidden in the finances. Unfortunatly that overall value is not linear. Because lamb is expensive, I would never buy 60 pounds of lamb, I would most likely buy 60 pounds of hamburg because it is cheap. So my lamb in my freezer is not really worth $14 a pound like lamb is in the store, no it would have been hamburg, so my lamb is actually worth $3.50 a pound.



 
pioneer
Posts: 1159
Location: 4b
204
dog forest garden trees bee building
  • Likes 6
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

elle sagenev wrote:I have mine listed $50 more than that, though if someone asked I'd happily take $150.



Personally, I think that is a mistake.  I think a lot of people won't even call if you are $50 above the normal asking price.  Most people aren't going to knock $50 off a $200 item, so customers probably assume you won't either, and won't even call.  If you are willing to take $150, that's what I would list them at.  Worst that can happen is you get callers that try to low ball you down to $100 or something.  You can always say "no, they are at rock bottom prices right now, but thanks for the call".  Some people will do that, then call around to other places and find out your price is fair, and call you back.  After all, they probably called you because you are close, or they like your way of raising them, whatever.  That had some reason to call you.  
 
elle sagenev
Posts: 1978
Location: Zone 5 Wyoming
157
kids duck forest garden chicken pig bee greening the desert homestead
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Trace Oswald wrote:

elle sagenev wrote:I have mine listed $50 more than that, though if someone asked I'd happily take $150.



Personally, I think that is a mistake.  I think a lot of people won't even call if you are $50 above the normal asking price.  Most people aren't going to knock $50 off a $200 item, so customers probably assume you won't either, and won't even call.  If you are willing to take $150, that's what I would list them at.  Worst that can happen is you get callers that try to low ball you down to $100 or something.  You can always say "no, they are at rock bottom prices right now, but thanks for the call".  Some people will do that, then call around to other places and find out your price is fair, and call you back.  After all, they probably called you because you are close, or they like your way of raising them, whatever.  That had some reason to call you.  



Hubs is pretty set on that price. The 150 piglets aren't heritage but commercial breeds. I do feel they are worth the extra 50. Maybe we'll get desperate down the line and sell some cheap.
 
pollinator
Posts: 827
Location: Chicago/San Francisco
82
  • Likes 5
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
> good with children

?  

Maybe it's just me, but... For selling pigs, that seems a concept that can only be a "pro" to a very small niche market. Very, very small. In other markets, it may flag you as people that don't talk the same language, don't live in the same space, as practical day-to-day folk who just need meat or animal for a good price. IOW, it looks like maybe you don't understand pricing or what really matters so you will likely be extra work to deal with. Generally in selling, when you know what people are interested in, you don't introduce _any_ other topics or concepts that might complicate the thought pattern and distract from the main point: You offering, for a sum of $$, an particular type of animal in a certain condition and located a particular place - which some buyer may want (for whatever reason). Embellish on that basic offer only with great care after you have spoken with the buyer a bit.

Maybe I'm being too narrow minded here. I don't know your "neighborhood" and I don't know what market you're trying to sell into. And many people would call me a weird  cynical asshole (they're wrong - I'm not cynical). So take this with salt, as they say - you may not approach things from the same place.


Regards,
Rufus
 
master pollinator
Posts: 8740
Location: Victoria British Columbia-Canada
716
  • Likes 3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
My father was a part-time farmer for the second half of his life, because he worked as a carpenter in a union that just kept raising the wage.

He still raised many animals, but didn't overwinter them. This was done with young cattle, sheep, chickens, and everything else that would eat grass. These animals spent the winter in his freezer, and then he bought more in the spring. They sometimes received some supplemental food, in the spring, but then pretty much looked after themselves until slaughtered.

He wasn't a breeder, or worried about promoting any particular animal. Anything for sale cheap in the spring was fair game. It made for some really inexpensive meat without a lot of risk.

Dad sold some animals and that always meant money in his pocket, because he didn't have to factor in a lot of feed or overwintering cost.
 
pollinator
Posts: 1562
Location: Big Island, Hawaii (2300' elevation, 60" avg. annual rainfall, temp range 55-80 degrees F)
531
forest garden rabbit tiny house books solar woodworking
  • Likes 9
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
....." I do feel they are worth the extra 50.".....

As you've just learned, it doesn't matter what the seller thinks, it only matters what the buyer thinks. It sounds to me that you've worked out most of the kinks except for marketing.

I raise the same old feral crossbreed pigs that everyone rises around here. So I've got a tough market to compete with. In order to sell my pigs, I look for what special differences I can market....
.....size. I advertise pigs for sale when they are reaching custom sizes so that they will be suitable for the buyers use, such as hulihuli pig (roasted on a spit), imu pig (whole pig cooked in the ground).
....diet. I push the idea that my pigs get fed custom diets. One group might be fed a lot of macadamia nuts, and thus be advertised as macnut pig. Others might finish their last month on primarily guavas, papayas, mangos, or bananas. Pasture fed pig also has a market. I had a request to finish a pig on beer, in addition to its regular diet. The buyer supplied the beer. By the way, the pig loved it. What a little boozer!
....happy pork. I let potential buyers know that my pigs are raised in 1 acre paddocks. No confinement pens. That by itself helps sell my pigs. The pigs even get "toys" to play with. Pictures of them playing with toys and playing in mud wallows equates to happy pork. Some buyers nowadays want to buy happy pork.

I also will transport the pig to the nearest slaughterhouse, for a reasonable delivery fee. Or deliver to their own residence. For no additional fee I will shoot and bleed out the pig for them. They can deal with it from there.

The trick I see with my own pigs is to get the buyers to believe that my pigs are in some way better than the competition. I will emphasize the special and desirable aspects of my pigs versus the other guy's. It's a tough market, but I do get my pigs sold.
 
Lucas Green
Posts: 37
2
goat cat duck
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Travis Johnson wrote:You have hit on a key point I just made this afternoon to a USDA person: farming as a business model is inverted. We buy at retail prices, and are forced to sell at wholesale prices. How can we make money doing that. I realize people just say, "well them at retail prices", but just try and do that, it is not very easy. I have heard the boasting of those people selling high priced meat, but how many did they sell at that price? Are they still selling for that rate? More often then not, I am forced to sell my lambs to livestock dealers just so I can get that check immediately to meet other expense needs.

If I eat my own livestock, at best I lose valuable cash for other living expenses, and at worst it was to be a replacement for my breeding stock, so I lose valuable cash not only today, but every year down the road.



Well I don't disagree with you, but I bet your finished product is better than what is hitting the market average and you are getting below-average prices from distributors. I really appreciate all of your points but I think you would agree your product is better and the difficulty is getting a market for it?

If you do agree with the above then I think it makes a bit more sense to blame the pervasive subsidies of shitty food and heavy amounts of marketing dollars industrial agg has than the nature of farming. I don't think its impossible if the true cost of oil and pesticides were incurred by removing US federal subsides for both that prices of all food goods would spike and be "profitable".

1. Finding ways to raise animals without inputs; not just because of the obvious savings but its an area where raising animals correctly out-competes factory farming
2. Find a way to build the environment necessary to sell and market your higher quality products


I know neither of those things actually solve the problems you are talking about and that you still can't make any money taking those things into account but I still think you are producing a different end product. Besides the lack of cruelty we know from USDA studies quality raised meat is more nutritious. Factory farming is a race to the bottom and works well in the US where fast food has been popular for 50 years.
 
Travis Johnson
master pollinator
Posts: 4004
916
transportation cat duck trees rabbit books chicken woodworking
  • Likes 3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Lucas Green wrote:Well I don't disagree with you, but I bet your finished product is better than what is hitting the market average and you are getting below-average prices from distributors.



I do not think it is though.

My little white balls of wool eat green grass, somehow poo out more little black balls of manure, and in doing so, somehow make red meat. It has been that way for 9000 years. My neighbors raise their sheep doing the same thing mine do. It does not matter if they raise 10 or 1000, they all are raised the same.

Some farmers try and market at higher prices, but as someone else said, it really does matter what the seller thinks, it matters what the buyer thinks. So they end up spending all their time trying to convince others that their higher prices are supported by this reason or that. In the end they are spending time marketing instead of farming. I think that can work for some people, but not for most, because as a general rule farmers suck at marketing.

I have tried selling to local people, but the shear amount of time spent in doing so is dibilitating. This comes down to a hard learned lesson, when you take away the middle man, yes you get his share of the profit, but you also have to do the work that he once did. That takes time and money.

I think there is a better way, and it is called Lean Farming. A person takes a hard look at their expenses, and they try an reduce the highest expenses down. In Elle's case she has admitted that is winter feed. Now I do not know what she has for resourses so this is hard for me to give exacting details, but in what ways can she give them feed without spending a lot of money. If she is buying grain, is it possible she grows her own? Or can she get some cheap grain from a neighbor who raises small grains? Or can she get food waste from the local school to feed them through the winter?

Again, I do not know the details, but if marketing is not exactly her thing (and for most farmers it is not), she should look at ways of reducing her expenses so she can make a go with pigs. Now it might just be such a critical look that she realizes, "hey pigs will never work for me, but goodness I could raise something else with the resourses that I have." I am not saying she should do that, I propose Elle look into ways of feeding her pigs inexpensively through the winter long and hard first. I think she has got the experience down, and breeding, she just needs to reduce expenses to make it more profitable.

This is why in my farm classes I have always stated that a person BEFORE they farm should do a mattrix; that is write write down in rows all the different commodities that they want to produce, and then in columns assess honestly what they have whether it be the right soil, the proper equipment, storage facilities, ect and then chart out what best matches their fam. I diod not get into sheep because my family has done it for almost 400 years, I did it because we grow grass really well here, and I get free winter feed. That is called a farms advantage, and when you identify it, it does not matter how big or small a farm is, it can be profitable. But a farm is fighting itself, it will never be profitable.




 
elle sagenev
Posts: 1978
Location: Zone 5 Wyoming
157
kids duck forest garden chicken pig bee greening the desert homestead
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Rufus Laggren wrote:> good with children

?  

Maybe it's just me, but... For selling pigs, that seems a concept that can only be a "pro" to a very small niche market. Very, very small. In other markets, it may flag you as people that don't talk the same language, don't live in the same space, as practical day-to-day folk who just need meat or animal for a good price. IOW, it looks like maybe you don't understand pricing or what really matters so you will likely be extra work to deal with. Generally in selling, when you know what people are interested in, you don't introduce _any_ other topics or concepts that might complicate the thought pattern and distract from the main point: You offering, for a sum of $$, an particular type of animal in a certain condition and located a particular place - which some buyer may want (for whatever reason). Embellish on that basic offer only with great care after you have spoken with the buyer a bit.

Maybe I'm being too narrow minded here. I don't know your "neighborhood" and I don't know what market you're trying to sell into. And many people would call me a weird  cynical asshole (they're wrong - I'm not cynical). So take this with salt, as they say - you may not approach things from the same place.


Regards,
Rufus



Man I consider that a huge selling point. lol Everyone I know around here raising animals does it with children in tow. To have pigs that won't attempt to harm them would be a big selling point. Perhaps you are right, and it's not. Still, who wouldn't want to buy this boars offspring. Big, beefy, friendly dude.
Baby-and-the-Boar.jpg
[Thumbnail for Baby-and-the-Boar.jpg]
 
elle sagenev
Posts: 1978
Location: Zone 5 Wyoming
157
kids duck forest garden chicken pig bee greening the desert homestead
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Su Ba wrote:....." I do feel they are worth the extra 50.".....

As you've just learned, it doesn't matter what the seller thinks, it only matters what the buyer thinks. It sounds to me that you've worked out most of the kinks except for marketing.

I raise the same old feral crossbreed pigs that everyone rises around here. So I've got a tough market to compete with. In order to sell my pigs, I look for what special differences I can market....
.....size. I advertise pigs for sale when they are reaching custom sizes so that they will be suitable for the buyers use, such as hulihuli pig (roasted on a spit), imu pig (whole pig cooked in the ground).
....diet. I push the idea that my pigs get fed custom diets. One group might be fed a lot of macadamia nuts, and thus be advertised as macnut pig. Others might finish their last month on primarily guavas, papayas, mangos, or bananas. Pasture fed pig also has a market. I had a request to finish a pig on beer, in addition to its regular diet. The buyer supplied the beer. By the way, the pig loved it. What a little boozer!
....happy pork. I let potential buyers know that my pigs are raised in 1 acre paddocks. No confinement pens. That by itself helps sell my pigs. The pigs even get "toys" to play with. Pictures of them playing with toys and playing in mud wallows equates to happy pork. Some buyers nowadays want to buy happy pork.

I also will transport the pig to the nearest slaughterhouse, for a reasonable delivery fee. Or deliver to their own residence. For no additional fee I will shoot and bleed out the pig for them. They can deal with it from there.

The trick I see with my own pigs is to get the buyers to believe that my pigs are in some way better than the competition. I will emphasize the special and desirable aspects of my pigs versus the other guy's. It's a tough market, but I do get my pigs sold.



This was something we considered. At their current size my piglets are perfect suckling pigs and we've had inquiries from some Chinese people about them. The problem being price, again. They barely want to pay anything for them.  We did discuss keeping them over winter and selling them in the spring as pig roast pigs. It just means keeping them over the winter.

I guess the biggest problem is price. We aren't hard up for the money. We don't exactly want to pay to feed them all winter but we can. So reducing the price just isn't really worth it to us as we would, again, eat them ourselves.

We are going to kill two of the breeding females before winter hits. 3 of them was obviously taking on more than we could handle.
 
Posts: 170
12
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

the farmers market programs were always stressing value added products

you might could butcher hogs, smoke the meat after seasoning with my not so world famous pork rub,
1/3 cup, ea,  turbano/raw sugar or maple sugar, kosher salt, smoked paprika
a few tablespoons garlic powder
tablespoon, onion powder and blk pepper
about tsp ea of-chili powder, cyanne, cumin


make some bbq sauce fitting your area, texas or carolina style
and sell super fantastic bab b que
or maybe make some tater salad, cole slaw ect
and sell tickets to your very own bbq festival
 
Michelle Arbol
Posts: 37
Location: The Great PNW
7
purity fungi foraging chicken medical herbs homestead
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

elle sagenev wrote:

Michelle Arbol wrote:I can relate to your struggles, its hard!! So, have you ever read any of Joel Salatins books? Hes my sustainable farming go to who i plan on mirroring my long term small farm ventures after. Anyways, he has a lot of good stuff out there and one of the biggest takeaways I got from reading his books is that farming is 100% a BUSINESS. You have to think of a farm from an entrepreneur/business person mindset, or it is very tough to make enough monies to sustain operations and living, without having to rely on outside income (ie- getting a job). Even with outside income, sometimes its still tough because all your livestock does for you is help you Lose money. Which is no good, and undesirable, as well. How is that sustainable? Well, its really not. At that point all youre doing is raising animals for fun, which is cool if thats what you want to do, but they are a drain on funds, kind of like a boat, or pets. Boats and pets are wonderful! But they absolutely drain money, with really no return to you other than companionship and fun.
So the book id specifically recommend is called "You Can Farm". Its a really good all encompassing book that goes into the business side of farming (on all scales) and why its so important, what to do, and how to get returns for your hard work. Ive read a few of his others like Pastured Poultry and Everything I want to do Is Illegal, theyre both fantastic, too.
From what ive read above, i think the a solution could be to obtain a pig that grows out to size quicker and maybe try it that way, or even try some alternative feed ideas to where the keeping cost of the pigs can be reduced. I read about how Joel uses his pigs to help turn his compost a few times a year and it serves two purposes, one to feed the pigs something new and fun, and two to turn the compost without having to use big greenhouse gases causing machinery (he has a BIG compost pile). I think there may be some out of the box ideas like this to feed your pigs naturally, if you havent done anything like that before, maybe take a look? Im not super experienced with pigs myself, so I dont have a ton of ideas, but i wish you the best!! Hopefully that helps

Take care :)



I have a pretty good system of feed for spring/summer/fall. The problem being that in Wyoming winter is at least 6 months. So half the year I HAVE to feed them bagged food/hay. That can get pretty expensive!



Seems like if overwintering is whats so expensive, it would make sense to butcher before before winter saps all your $$
But seems like others have tons of advise, too. Hope you get something useful!

Cheers
 
pollinator
Posts: 158
Location: Western central Illinois, Zone 6a
63
hunting trees solar wood heat rocket stoves ungarbage
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I think Su and Travis have have covered most of what I was thinking, but I have a couple other thoughts I'll add.

One thing I agree with completely is that if you want to survive on a farm it must be run as a business. That being said, I believe you also need to identify your capital and the profit you want to make. Not all capital is $$$, and not all profit is $$$, but you do have to make enough financial profit to pay the bills.

I also believe the #1 failure in a business is marketing. That marketing can be through advertisements or through the level of customer service you provide. If you aren't properly marketing to the customers that you are trying to get, you are done. You also need to decide who you are trying to market to, and go after them.

In my case, I'm looking at doing chickens. John Suscovich has some really great videos on marketing and such. One thing he talks about is pricing. He get's $6/lb but knows most places he couldn't get that. He happens to be in marketing distance of NY City. His market will support $6/lb. In limited quantities I believe I can get $4/lb for organically fed, pastured poultry. But that is all in the marketing. Starting out I am raising 30 birds that I will start butchering tomorrow. Of these, I am giving away half to family as advertising and taking pre-orders, CSA-style, for the spring. I'm hoping to grow this depending on permitting and such for where I am. For family I will charge $2/lb. This is because one sister in law can already get them for $2/lb if she drives to a farm an hour and a half away. She would gladly pay me $2/lb an drive 1 mile up the road to our place. I have been tracking feed, labor, and expenses on a spreadsheet and my cost, including paying myself at $10/hr, is coming out at $1.80/lb. Not a lot of profit, but it covers my costs and is better than what I get in the store. There is also the benefit of all the fertilizer they deposit on my yard for growing hay mulch for the garden.

So my suggestion is to reevaluate your price starting out. You may need to adjust your price to your market area or adjust your market area for your price. Justin Rhodes drove from NC to Missouri for sheep and I think it was a 4 or 6 hour drive on way for the pigs he did this year. Some people are willing to make that drive if you have a special or niche product.
 
Lucas Green
Posts: 37
2
goat cat duck
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Travis Johnson wrote:

Lucas Green wrote:Well I don't disagree with you, but I bet your finished product is better than what is hitting the market average and you are getting below-average prices from distributors.



I do not think it is though.

My little white balls of wool eat green grass, somehow poo out more little black balls of manure, and in doing so, somehow make red meat. It has been that way for 9000 years. My neighbors raise their sheep doing the same thing mine do. It does not matter if they raise 10 or 1000, they all are raised the same.




Yea definitely too many sheep if the average for free-range red meat price is so low.
 
Travis Johnson
master pollinator
Posts: 4004
916
transportation cat duck trees rabbit books chicken woodworking
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
One of the reasons I like the concept of Lean Farming is because of the math...

When you sell something, you have money invested in getting it in the first place, hidden costs in having it, and then costs to sell it. All those costs reduce your profit.

When you can trim expenses, it is a 100% profit. ONE HUNDRED PERCENT!

Years ago I used to have an electric stock water heater in my sheep water tanks, and my electric bill would jump from $100 to $300 in the winter months. When I realized I could just give my sheep the amount of water they drank and no more, I eliminated my stock heaters altogether and saved $200 per month. Over the winter it was $1000 I was no longer spending.

But I average $100 profit per lamb, I would have to have 15 additional lambs to make $1000. That is because there is mortality rates, costs of raising them, feed costs, etc. If you double your production, you never double your profits. But if you half your expenses, 100% of that money stays in your pocket. That is why Lean Farming is ALWAYS the way to go.

THEN...when you get your operation streamlined, then you add product. In my case I could add 100 sheep and I still will be saving $1000 a  winter because I still would not have stock tank heaters.

Elle is probably on the right track, and it would be a shame for her to throw away all the lessons she has learned, because we have to face it, when you get a new type of animal, the learning curve that first year is just about straight up. The challenge for her is to find a way to reduce her overwinter feeding costs. It will take being creative perhaps, but I know it can be done.

Time to send Hubby mucking out the neighbor's barn in trade for a few bales of hay Elle. If he complains, just tell him he is so good at ensuring electrical cords are coiled properly that he will be an ideal farmhand swamping out the neighbor's barn. (LOL)

Disclaimer: Travis S Johnson will not be held liable for any marital discord from the suggestions presented in this reply! (LOL)
 
bruce Fine
Posts: 170
12
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
this fall were gathering all the wild black walnuts for neighbors hogs cuz he no longer can get corn mash from distillers
 
Posts: 69
Location: Southside of Virginia
14
goat chicken bee medical herbs wood heat homestead
  • Likes 1 Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
The only sure way to end up with a small fortune from farming, is to start out with a large fortune. Think about it-- if it really is possible then the small family farms would still be plentiful. Just sayin'...
 
pollinator
Posts: 702
Location: Southern Oregon
120
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I highly agree with Jay Grace. Around here, people buy piglets to feed through the spring and summer, and slaughter in the fall, and we don't even have as harsh winters as you do. This time of year, people are looking at buying full sized pigs for slaughter, which they pay around $1000 for, depending on hanging weight and butchering. Unless, you are marketing to breeders, I'm not sure who would want to overwinter piglets.
 
Travis Johnson
master pollinator
Posts: 4004
916
transportation cat duck trees rabbit books chicken woodworking
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Timing can have a lot to do with profitability, but it can work for...or against a farmer.

Like where I live, a lot of people delay their sheep breeding so that the lambs are born in the spring. This allows them to have no barns, or crappy barns, thus saving them money. But that also means a lot of lamb comes onto the market late into the year, and in volume. It really drives down the price of lamb.

Right now is the highest prices, as there is a Muslim Holiday that drives up the price. But you have to have lambs born in the winter in order to get lambs to market in September.

I fully appreciate pasture lambing, but I chose to do it a different way. I winter lamb, which requires barns, but it also allows me to have lambs for two lucrative markets: Easter Lambs, and the Muslim Market. THAT IS HUGE! The way Katie and I managed to pull this off is, by being able to design and build a very effective, but very inexpensive barn. Our 30 x 48 foot barn cost us $4450 to build.

Those are the kind of opportunities people need to take.

Yes, spring lambing is one way, BUT it is not the only way. Rather than boast about not having to have a barn, then taking a hit on every lamb you sell because they are at depressed prices, think of a cheap way to do it, but get the highest prices. In sheep farming, a barn is not bad, it is the cost of the barn that is "bad" so a sheep farmer should look into making a barn cheaply.
 
Travis Johnson
master pollinator
Posts: 4004
916
transportation cat duck trees rabbit books chicken woodworking
  • Likes 6
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
One thing to keep in mind: Katie and I are NOT getting out of sheep because they were not profitable. We are getting out of sheep because I got cancer, and a type of cancer that is lingering. I physically am unable to do a lot of the things I used to do.

Success wise I am very proud of what we accomplished. In 8 years we went from having a hobby farm, to being able to farm full-time. That is almost unheard of. So my advice here is very sound. This is not financial farm theory; we lived it.
 
pollinator
Posts: 1227
Location: Green County, Kentucky
64
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I'll have to come back when I have time to read all of the answers, but I do have a few thoughts (which may have already been touched on, so if this is repetitious, sorry!).

First, a lot of people go into rare heritage breeds thinking they'll make more from the rare breeds.  It's true that they are often desirable homestead animals, and we need to keep the rare breeds for their genetics, if nothing else.  But if you are farming as a business, and need to support your family with income from that business, you have to keep in mind that the rare heritage breeds are rare for a reason -- they don't pencil out nearly as well as the breeds which have become more common.  Farmers who farm for a living have to be fairly pragmatic -- if something is a net loss, they can't keep doing it.  So the rare breeds weren't working as well to bring in the income the family needed, and that is why they have become rare.  It doesn't mean they can't be made to work for a homestead, but if you need to have things pencil out, there are other breeds that will be better for that.

Raising rare breeds that don't pencil out, and expecting to get higher prices for them, may work if you have a good market of people who are dedicated to preserving the older, rarer breeds and don't care about cost.  But if your market is primarily people who are trying to save some money on feeding their families, advertising your less-efficient animals at higher prices isn't going to be appealing to very many buyers.  So I suspect that your husband's desire to ask more for these less-efficient animals which cost more to raise to market weight is self-defeating, unfortunately.

Raising piglets through the winter is 1. going to cost more money, not only because in your climate you have to feed all purchased feed, but also because in order to stay warm they need to eat more than they would in warm weather, and 2. they will grow more slowly (eating even more feed) because most of what they eat is going to keeping warm and surviving, rather than to growing.  My husband insisted on getting a couple of piglets in the fall one year, because they were cheaper then (against my advice), and it cost twice as much to raise them, and they weren't as big as summer pigs raised the same length of time.

And last, have you considered whether pigs are a good type of livestock for your region?  I'm somewhat familiar with Wyoming -- my sister lives in Cheyenne -- and I've lived in a similar climate in Eastern Oregon.  Yes, it is possible to raise pigs there, but it might make more sense economically to raise something better suited to the natural environment such as sheep or cattle.  I think all animals do best in something approximating their natural environment, and a pig's natural environment is (primarily deciduous) forest, from the tropics to the temperate zones.  Just something to think about!

 
Posts: 7052
Location: Arkansas Ozarks zone 7 alluvial,black,deep loam/clay with few rocks, wonderful creek bottom!
1070
  • Likes 3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I'm guessing this has already been mentioned....I think to sell most anything you have to 'tell your story' loud and clear and at the same time find those customers who appreciate what you have to offer.  This is the case whether it is craft, art, produce or livestock.  Without any other known factors, most folks will only look at the price and go for the lowest one.  If they are already looking for a product with a lifestyle attached and all of the benefits of that one in particular, they will pay more.  

I was able to find my 'niche' small as it was, by spending time explaining on my tag (and many times in person)for woven goods where I sourced materials. how and why and also explaining the low impact of my production methods...those folks who cared about such things were willing to pay much more for a handwoven placemat than others who were satisfied with a 'handwoven' placemat from a big box store at a fraction of the price.

We are in a dilemma at the moment over chicken prices...we want and appreciate organically raised birds.  We just can't afford organic as often as we like to eat chicken so we compromise with birds somewhere in the middle and talk about how to raise chickens again without the raccoons eating them.....
 
pollinator
Posts: 976
Location: Virginia USDA 7a/b
199
hugelkultur forest garden hunting chicken food preservation bee
  • Likes 3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
This is a very good conversation. And I'm tired so not sure I will contribute much. Here goes:

My goal is to be a sustainable farmer. The follow on goals leading from that would be soil improvement, improved forage species, and seasonal extension using silvopasture.

Once I have those building blocks starting to come together, then I can add in some beasties. I know there are some farmers like Greg Judy who did it with near-zero infrastructure (Travis' Lean Farming in spades) but it is management intensive, and would not be sustainable to the farmer (me), so I need to decrease the time overhead (which is my most valuable commodity). Others will have a different valuable commodity to make "lean", but it must be identified. In Wyoming it seems like winter feed is the expensive part, while here it is probably disease or distribution or some other thing. It is embarassing what hay sells for here most years, but out west that is a major factor.

So when I look at distribution it takes me to particular species. What will it cost me in time and money to move the animals from the field to someone else's freezer? My wife really likes cows but the butchers here are slammed in the fall because they convert to deer processing in November, so it would mean overwintering animals for regular butchering. That might make sense here, since hay is cheap and winters are mild, or I would have to turn into a butcher for a couple weeks. I would prefer sheep but they require some of the same timeframe for best forage use. I really like Travis' approach of identifying a market and seeing if you can sell at a premium. It may require some up-front investment. In the west traditionally stock was moved to winter pastures in other states. I think this may be a way forward, depending on transport costs. For instance I could take my pasture and run sheep/cows during the summer and then move them to Georgia to a fellow permies farm when the rainfall and forage growth is best (which south of the "gnat line" is winter for most).

So I would calculate the cost in time, vehicle degradation and fuel etc to move 10 cows ten hours and figure out if that is cheaper than buying 40 round bales at $40. If the answer is no, it is not sstainable. It can be beautiful or fun or other things but not sustainable. Then I would look at the selling price of a cow or sheep for fall butcher versus spring. If the price justifies the increased input costs (like the buildings for Travis- and make sure you calculate labor for construction and upkeep) then it makes sense. Otherwise it is not sustainable.  

I have not read Joel's book, but I suspect I would love them. I hate to say it but many of my acquaintances around here raising stock have no idea what their costs are as Travis has done. Like no idea at all. I try to identify a rough cost before I start a project, and decide if it is worth it. Most around here are getting into say chickens and then trying to sell 1000 broilers at farmers markets, spending 100 hours to make $200 profit if they did the math. I am working to identify a market (which for me looks like per hour is Asian specialty fruits) and have the added revenue stream of sheep i would sell to a Halal butcher near DC.

But if the numbers don't work, I am better off with a smaller footprint and a hobby farm producing what we eat- reducing our expenses as Travis has suggested. My combined income taxes are about 35%, and so each $100 I don't spend is $140 I could put into an eventual business I can expense against. That is a great return on investment, but only because of the tax situation. Once we get close to 100%, it stops being a good investment.  
 
Kathleen Sanderson
pollinator
Posts: 1227
Location: Green County, Kentucky
64
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
TJ Jefferson, have you checked with your local butchers to find out when their slow time of year is?  I'm not familiar with your area, but if the hunting seasons are over by the end of the year, you might be able to keep your sale cattle just until, say, January, and then take them to the butcher.  You wouldn't have to feed them through the whole winter, just a couple of months (and if hay is that cheap there, it shouldn't hurt too much to do that).  It would be a win for the butcher, too, since you'd be giving them work at a time of year when things were slow for them.  
 
elle sagenev
Posts: 1978
Location: Zone 5 Wyoming
157
kids duck forest garden chicken pig bee greening the desert homestead
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Just as an update we are killing two of the sows. One of them is becoming rather mean and the other hasn't had piglets in a year so... We're going to eat them.

Hubs wants to see how big the piglets get so plan to keep them over the winter. Our boar is quite large but our sow isn't so it's a matter of interest.

If they get too expensive to feed we'll just kill them as suckling pigs- because they still are, and sell them that way.


I get it, selling them now wasn't the best idea.
 
Travis Johnson
master pollinator
Posts: 4004
916
transportation cat duck trees rabbit books chicken woodworking
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

elle sagenev wrote:Just as an update we are killing two of the sows. One of them is becoming rather mean and the other hasn't had piglets in a year so... We're going to eat them.

Hubs wants to see how big the piglets get so plan to keep them over the winter. Our boar is quite large but our sow isn't so it's a matter of interest.

If they get too expensive to feed we'll just kill them as suckling pigs- because they still are, and sell them that way.


I get it, selling them now wasn't the best idea.



I am not sure whether to be happy or sad for you Elle, as it sounds like you are just rolling with it all.

We had the same issue as you. We had a couple of lambs we could have slaughtered for our own use, but we chose to sell them to the livestock dealer. The price will be low as it always is this time of year because people d not want to feed sheep over the winter, and because those that pasture lamb are sending their lambs to slaughter.

We could keep them all winter as I have my own hay, but that hay has value in selling it too. Sometimes it is best to cut your losses.

But this is why I love homesteaders so much. Unlike others of the population they understand how hard it is to farm and make things pencil out.
 
Posts: 525
Location: Australia, New South Wales. Köppen: Cfa (Humid Subtropical), USDA: 10/11
143
transportation hugelkultur cat forest garden fish trees urban chicken cooking woodworking homestead
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

bruce Fine wrote:
the farmers market programs were always stressing value added products



Yep, value adding is a key point here. Do the maths: same sized land mass (give or take), 25.5 M people, lots of geographically isolated farmers selling all sorts of things, a very harsh dry climate. So, the market is small and producers need to compete - there's only so much they can undercut on costs, so, they value add - premium small goods, delivery services, etc.

They tie it in with neighbouring properties and create 'Food/Harvest Trails' and do some basic marketing.

It depends on how creative and driven farmers are, most are willing to give it a go and see how it works.

 
pollinator
Posts: 2283
Location: Kent, UK - Zone 8
179
books composting toilet bee rocket stoves wood heat homestead
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I haven't read the whole thread, but my local farmer friend who raises pigs sells them two ways.

1) He pays a local slaughter house to process them, and has a list of eager people waiting for sausages/bacon etc... to sell at good markup.
2) He has a sideline doing his own hog roasts for events. He rocks up with a trailer spends the morning cooking the hog and the serves and sells. Again, the value added is where the profit is. He turns a £100 pig into £300 worth of hog roast, at the cost of a day's labour.

People love his hog roasts because they know they are his own pigs, locally raised. They are cooked over wood rather than gas, and his whole setup makes the meal a sensation. The whole "pig on a spit with an apple in it's mouth", mountains of crackling etc...
 
Posts: 7
Location: Southwestern Ohio
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Value added products have odd legalities surrounding them in some cases; I know next to nothing about it, but something to keep in mind. With rare breeds, you have to show buyers they're more than just a pig with a paint job, that they are actually different. Who hasn't heard a story of a farmer falling prey to their own pigs? 'Kid friendly' is more of a pet wording that might turn off some 'professional' farmers, but there is a section of farmers that are old enough they don't want to deal with difficult livestock that it could hook in. Also, people who try to pasture 'normal' pigs have probably run into some issues with rooting -- if they don't tear up pasture, adding something like 'true grazing' or 'minimal rooting' pigs could help draw in people. You said they do well on pasture, but there is a difference between that and need no additional feeding.

Also, you mention that this is the first successful year; the cost of raising them will go down as you get more efficient and your market will expand. at $50 more than a commercial pig, people will be leery at first -- not only is it more, but since its new to them they might worry it'll grow slower, or need more feed. after you've sold a few piglets and had people raise them to butcher, those fears should ebb. The first years are always the worst for a new venture.
 
pollinator
Posts: 213
Location: nevada zone7
53
kids cat tiny house books chicken fiber arts homestead
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I know nothing about raising pigs, but as a soon to be customer for some.
I would not call you if there kid friendly, why? because this makes me think there pets.
and I don't want to have to skip around the fact im going to eat it. I would suggest different words in your advert like not dangerous to children.
 
It runs on an internal combustion engine. This ad does not:
permaculture bootcamp - learn permaculture through a little hard work
https://permies.com/wiki/bootcamp
  • Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic
Boost this thread!