In my research for starting pig farming (small scale, but still commercial), I have looked into buying weaners to get my herd going. It seems that the prices vary depending on what your intended use is, from ~$100 for your basic "raise it and eat it" weaner, to ~$250 for a 4H or FFA weaner, or ~$400 for "breeding stock". While I understand that a seller might look at a litter and say, "Oh, here's one of particularly good quality, I'll charge you extra for it because you want to get a blue ribbon with it," what's the feasibility of paying ~$1200 for a litter of a dozen weaners, raising them all to butcher weight, keeping the five or so best barrows as breeding stock, slaughtering the rest, and buying a boar from a different line? If you buy the litter from a good farm, are the chances good that five out of twelve will be good breed stock to get next year's litters out of?
While some of that is true--a lot of the price is because farmers don't like dealing with prissy buyers or selling themselves out of a repeat customer.
Out of a litter of a dozen, you can expect one runt and 2-4 really good ones--but not guaranteed they are gilts.
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If you want breeding stock then ask the farmer to use their keen eye, their experience, to pick the best of the litters for that and be willing to pay extra for that leg up. We keep about 5% of the gilts as breeders and 0.5% of the boars. Boars have to be far better than gilts to be kept as breeder quality because they will breed with many females and sire hundreds to thousands of piglets. Gilts merely need to be exceptional.
If you want feeder stock then save your money and buy feeders.
What ever you do, reserve ahead and put a deposit down. In the spring all our piglets are sold out well into summer. We are already reserved out through April on piglets from our sixty sows. Spring demand is very high - that's when everyone and their brother wants piglets to raise over the easy summer months.
Walter's the expert, you won't go wrong following his advice.
You may want to go in a different direction than his operation, and so may have other reasons for wanting a whole litter.
I'm guessing you want a wholesale price for your animals, is that correct?
So if you a) want a wholesale price and b) do not plan on breeding, I can see buying the whole litter.
A whole litter is a lot of trouble for just meat though. Goals can change as well. What happens if three months down the road, you decide that you want to keep your own herd and breed? You'll have to start over, or at least, lose a good deal of your investment in the current pigs.
I can think of one reason for keeping pigs that don't make the cut for breeding stock. The pig exists to perform a task, such as become meat, work the land, or something else.
I have a small boar and he doesn't have good conformation. I'm going to keep him though. He was cheap ($60 if I remember). I'm planning on using him to cover my gilts for their first litter. I don't want to pay for artificial insemination for first litters. It's money down the drain if the litters are small, etc.
I may hold onto the boar a little longer, keeping him nearby when the girls are in heat but not letting him cover them. This will help in the artificial insemination process.
Personally, I would stay away from buying a whole litter. I'm glad I didn't load up with a bunch of pigs at the same time. I've started out slowly, and this has allowed me to take advantage of some amazing deals. I have a duroc gilt with great conformation that I can register. I only paid $60 for her. I also have a hereford gilt, about to be papered, that weighed 200lbs when I bought her. I paid $400 for her, but she came with 400 lbs of feed and a feeder bin that's big enough to feed several pigs. The hereford's conformation is great. I'm already counting my piglets before they've hatched. I wouldn't have been able to get the deals if I was already at capacity for pigs.
Just a note to everyone, I'd like to get a pure tamworth gilt.
Oh, Walter, I really really want a girl from Peanut Butter. Do you think we could make that happen this spring/summer? What a beautiful sow.
Jeremey Weeks wrote:Walter, I really really want a girl from Peanut Butter. Do you think we could make that happen this spring/summer? What a beautiful sow.
Possible. The tricky part is I don't ship live animals so you would have to pick her up and we're on opposite sides of the country. If you're picking one up and transporting it I would suggest getting several at the same time to amortize the cost of transportation.
At this point all piglets are reserved out through April 2014 in both feeder and breeder categories. PeanutButter is rebreeding as we speak so her next litter should wean around late May. Her mother Double Stuff will follow probably weaning in early June. If you can figure out transportation then let me know. See the breeder page http://SugarMtnFarm.com/breeders for more details.