“What’s a feeder pig?”

Good  Great question!


You talking ’bout me??

She kinda hated to ask.  I am so glad she did!  There are so many phrases, breeds, and terms that are unique to each livestock species.  It gets confusing.  For example:

a castrated male in cattle is a steer

pigs? a barrow

horses – gelding

goats – wether  (I think this is the same for sheep, as well).

When we added goats to our farm, I had to refresh my knowledge.  Well, actually, learn new information as I knew very little about goats.  The inconsistent vocabulary goes on for the females, young ‘uns, and breeding males.

Why can’t the livestock linguists be consistent??  Maybe it is a way for seasoned farmers/ranchers to quickly discern the newbies to the field?  But, I digress.

Farrowing is the birthing process for sows having their piglets.  Some farms are not set up to farrow, so they buy their pigs, usually in the 40-60 pound range, then “feed them out.”  Some people like to buy one (or a few) feeder pigs in order to be able to raise their own meat.  A “finished” hog (one that is ready for slaughter) is approximately 250-260 pounds.  Most of the pigs that you see at a fair are at/near finishing weight.

My son & his pig during the 2012 4-H auction.

My son & his pig during the 2012 4-H auction.

On our little farm, we have pigs because of Pig-farmer and his crazy love of pigs.  He loves the whole process, from farrow to finish.  We would like to offer people the option of buying a finished hog from us and we would deliver it to the meat processor for them.  They would have the opportunity to choose a 1/2 or whole hog, the cuts of meat they want, etc.  The benefit would be that they know their meat was raised humanely and locally; plus the Berkshire breed is known for its high quality of meat.  It just tastes better.  (Like you see Angus beef being touted at restaurants and stores?  Angus is a beef breed recognized for its meat quality.)

I love the questions.  Don’t be afraid to ask!




About Marla Rose

This blog documents our farm life in central Illinois with photographs, experiences, and a dash of cooking. Pour a cup of coffee and enjoy sharing part of our lives!
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18 Responses to “What’s a feeder pig?”

  1. Dianna says:

    I grew up with a dairy barn across the highway and a “pig farm” beside us (WHEW: talkin’ about odors…!), but I never really learned the terminology!

  2. cecilia says:

    Now, I am shocked at how little i knew about anything -let alone what anything was called – when i began to grow my own food out here!

    Nice looking piggies..

    I am growing my ‘feeder pigs’ much smaller this year, I just don’t need so MUCH meat. Pity a pig is not all bacon though!.. c

  3. debweeks says:

    Wait a minute!!! You can’t turn the whole pig into bacon? 🙂 LOL!!!!

    Good job with the terminology. I’ve learned that knowing these things helps one have an intelligent conversation with other farmers.

  4. pattisj says:

    I enjoy learning more about farming and raising animals.

  5. Thanks for the info! So, if I got a feeder pig that weighed 50 lbs, how old would it be? and then how long does it take to feed them out? Is the Berkshire breed easy to find and what do you look for in a good feeder pig?

    • Our pigs were born mid-April and they are ready to go as feeders. These should be finished by late-October/early-November (per Pig-farmer). I would try Google-searching for Berkshire breeders in your area. Look for some that look like they have muscle definition, not too skinny, healthy, bright eyes. Good luck!

      • no weaning? interesting! thanks! The chicken project went so well, my neighbor wants to try it and also a couple of pigs. Our other neighbor had 3 pigs but they escaped and he could never get them back in. Are they diggers or pushers on fences? Sorry to bombard you with questions.

      • No problem! The pigs have been weaned. Before we remove them from the sow, we have them started on creep feed. If you talk with a feed store about feed, tell them what age/weight of feeders you get and they should be able to advise you on the right mix of feed.

        Yes – they root with their noses! They are amazingly (to me) strong. A vet can “ring” their nose … which prevents rooting; but I would just recommend using hog panels, bought at the local farm supply store. And/or you could run an electric fence, 6 inches off the ground, on the interior of whatever fence you use.

      • thanks! have a great weekend!!

      • You too. Thanks for the great questions!!

  6. Southernruralroute.wordpress.com says:

    This was educational. Thanks! That first photo of pigs … are those the babies cuz they aren’t cute anymore.

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