If you’re thinking about raising pigs on your farm or homestead, you might be wondering what kinds of goals you should be aiming for. Namely, you might want to know what the average pig weight is so you know you are feeding it and caring for it properly before slaughter.
Luckily, in the last few decades, better breeding and higher feed efficiency have improved the average pig weight from the market.
The average mature pig weight comes in around 285 pounds (130 kilograms). This can vary depending on the breed and the conditions in which you are raising your pigs.
There is some variability to this, but the good news is that, as we learn more about the best ways to raise pigs, that average weight is going up. Just five years ago, the average pig weight was only 281 pounds (128 kilograms)!
That being said, there are many factors behind optimal weight, and a heavier pig isn’t always a better pig. You’ll need to account for all factors.
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Helping My Pig Gain Weight
There are several tips you can follow to help your pig get to a healthy slaughter weight in a short – but reasonable – amount of time.
First, provide your pig a mixed diet that includes foods like:
- Mineral mixtures
- Food scraps
- Fresh pasture
Provide plenty of fresh, clean water, too. A pig that’s dehydrated will be a pig that doesn’t eat as much and will put on weight slowly.
The water needs to be super clean to prevent parasites, which can also cause your pig to gain weight more slowly.
While we’re on the subject of parasites, get in the habit of providing your pigs as much room as possible. Lots of people raise their pigs in small pens or even on concrete pads.
You can do that, but they’re not going to grow as quickly or as efficiently. You’re also going to have to rely on dewormers to keep parasites at bay.
Instead, consider raising your pigs on pasture. There’s a common myth out there that pigs allowed to roam will produce meat that is tough and gamey.
Our pigs are raised on more than ⅔ of an acre, and we have never found that to be the case. On the contrary, you will get a meat that is lean and flavorful – meaning less waste when it comes to discarding fat at butchering time.
Despite having our pigs on pasture, we deworm them once a month. Chemicals aren’t necessary to deworm your pigs – something as simple as garlic and apple cider vinegar should do the trick (the garlic can also help with the flies, too).
No matter what you feed, consider setting up automatic feeders and waterers.
Pigs can drink out of nipple water and you can easily affix these to a plastic barrel or drum to provide a steady supply of water that you only have to fill once or twice a week.
Again, you don’t want your pigs running out of water because they won’t eat and they won’t gain weight.
Don’t think that just by being diligent you can provide them with all the water they need to put on weight, either. Pigs are messy, and they love nothing more than tipping their water dishes over and splashing around in the resulting mud.
Set up some kind of automatic waterer that they can’t flip, and you’ll thank yourself later on.
The same goes for the feeder. You’re going to waste a lot of food by feeding your pigs in a basic trough for a feeding pan.
Build an automatic feeder that has a cover the pigs can lift with their snouts. This will keep the food protected from the rain and, if the lid is heavy enough, rodents.
Your pigs can help themselves whenever they want and your feeding chores will be reduced to about once per week.
Feel free to feed your pigs all these cramps you want, too. If you can get your hands on free bread, brewer’s grain, vegetables, milk, or eggs, that’s all the better.
Just try to avoid feeding one kind of food in excess, as it can make your pigs overfat and leave an odd flavor in the meat.
Two other factors – consider the time of year you raise your pigs, and also who you are raising them with. You can certainly raise one pig by itself, but you may find that your pigs gain weight better when raised with other pigs.
Competition increases food consumption – that’s anecdotal, but it’s a fact I’ve always found to be true.
Time of year is important because you want your pigs to be spending their energy on gaining weight, not on keeping warm. If you must raise pigs during the winter, make sure you have good shelter for them to go into to get out of the precipitation and wind.
How to Calculate Pig Weight
For every 200 pound (90 kgs) pig (live weight) you will get about 55 lbs (25 kgs) of hams and pork shoulder (or chops) 40 lbs (18 kgs) of bacon and loin, and all the trimmings like sausage, lard, etc. For a family of four, one pig is really all you need.
When calculating pig weight, you’ll have two weights to measure: hanging weight and live weight.
Hanging weight is how much your pig weighs after all of the trimmings – like the head, hide, blood, hooves, lungs, viscera, and heart – have been removed. It’s usually about 40% of the live weight.
You won’t know this until you get your pig on the scales after slaughter, but you can take a rough estimate.
Live weight can be determined with an easy calculation. Don’t worry, you don’t have to get your pig on a scale, either! All you have to do is use some fabric measuring tape.
Put the tape on the pig just behind its front legs. Measure its girth in inches. Then, measure its length, taking the measurement from the base of its ears to its tail. This is also done in inches.
Square the girth, then multiply it by the length and divide it by 400. This will give you the approximate weight of your pig in pounds:
GIRTH X GIRTH X LENGTH / 400 = PIG WEIGHT
One note – this is easier to do on older pigs than on younger ones. They tend to squirm a bit less, and will be much more accommodating when it comes to having a measuring tape wrapped around them!
Pig Weight Calculator
Even though the formula above is pretty straightforward, let’s save you some time. Enter the girth and length below to quickly estimate your hog’s weight:
What Pig Breeds Get the Largest?
Most pig breeds produce animals that can be raised to suitable market weight. However, when buying a pig of any breed, you’ll want to check the genetic stock.
Make sure your pig is from clean, disease-free lineage, and try not to buy a runt. While runts sometimes prove you wrong, they often just don’t grow as large as their siblings.
A good trait to keep an eye out for is a pig that is long. One that is squat and short will produce more lard.
Breed is less important, as all breeds have been developed to produce meat, but if you’re looking for a good ham and bacon pig (typically considered the best meat pigs) you will want to choose from:
- Chester White
The following are other common pig breeds you can raise, but since they were bred to be lard producing pigs, they might not be as lean as you’d like:
- Large Black
- Gloucestershire Old Spots
When Heavier Isn’t Always Better
Remember – bigger isn’t always better, and that applies to pigs, too. While you can certainly raise a pig until it is several hundred pounds (our breeding sow, Boo, weighs close to 700 pounds – 317 kgs) there’s not much of an advantage to doing this.
Once pigs get to about 225 pounds (102 kgs), their ratio of weight gained to food consumed drops significantly. This means that you’ll be spending more money to feed a pig without a lot of return.
If you somehow have access to free food (or have your pigs on pasture) that might not be a bad thing.
However, if you’re feeding your pigs grain, your goal here should be to optimize your feed conversion rate so you’re not flushing money down the toilet.
Once pigs start to get too big, the meat quality also declines. More weight doesn’t necessarily mean more ham, bacon, and pork chops – it often just means more lard.
If you’re not doing anything with the pig fat, that means you will be throwing out most of that extra weight when it comes to butchering a pig, anyway.
Follow the right steps, though, and you will raise a pig that is not only lean and large, but produces incredibly delicious meat!
Rebekah is a full-time homesteader. On her 22 acres, she raises chickens, sheep and bees, not to mention she grows a wide variety of veggies. She has a huge greenhouse and does lots of DIY projects with her husband in her ever-growing homesteading endeavor.