Lessons in Commercial Pig Butchering

This being our first year butchering our own pigs, we learned some good lessons in how to manage our expectations and also what to expect from the process.

While we have purchased 1/2 pigs and steers from other farmers in the past, it was a simple agreement to the hang weight cost and then we got what the butcher cut. We approached the process in much the same way this time, but going forward we will be better educated, and in turn, those who buy from us will be. The options on cuts are significant, as are the ways to use the cuts and trimmings. We have prepared a robust cut list document that will be the subject of a follow on post, and will use that for all agreements going forward to help both us and our customers get the maximum value from their investment.

Note: The data here reflects estimates and approximations and there will be some variability. The source we are using as a base is the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture as they have a great resource available as a reference. You will note the parallels in that to how we structure the cut list for maximum clarity and ease of reference.

When butchering an animal there are a few weights to be aware of.The estimated standing weight allows you to estimate the hang weight. The hang weight is what costs are based on, and reflects the butchered animal, prepared for retail cutting at about a 28% loss of original weight. The retail, or packaged weight reflects all the trimming and related loss to final retail cuts and amounts to approximately another 20%. Some of this can be retained through selection of the trim for other use, including lard.

In related posts, we will cover some of the many options here, as well as recipes for these cuts for those of you who may be new to the array of options a whole or half animal represents.