Increasing numbers of pork producers are considering owning their product further than the packers gate. Much of this impetus comes from increasing farm-cutout or farm-retail margins. However, many producers are not aware of the potential variability in product, price, and ultimately profits that occurs in the packing and processing sector. Furthermore, due to the variability that occurs in item weights and other specifications, there are minimum numbers of live animals that are necessary to keep facilities operational. Thus, producers interested in further processing need some way to predict the amount of product associated with a given number of hogs. That is why the Whole Hog Value Calculator (WHVC) was developed.

In the last couple decades, lean growth and feed efficiency have dramatically improved average pig weight for market. Productivity of the average pig farmer has increased, with pigs per litter and average market hog weights both increasing. A sure sign that a farrow-to-finish operation is successful is that pigs remain profitable at heavier market weights.

The most accurate way to measure the weight of a pig is to use a specialist pig weigh. However, these can be expensive and if you only have a few pigs to weigh and a high degree of accuracy is not necessarily needed, we explain how to obtain a good estimate of a pigs weight using only a measuring tape and a calculator.

Factors Beyond Pig Weight

In swine production, it is important to account for all factors in the farrow-to-finish operation that affect carcass value and production cost when determining market weights. A farrow-to-finish operation, that is, the time required from birth to grow a pig to slaughter weight, is in the 22-26 week range. This begins with a farrow-to-wean stage of approximately 3 weeks or until the hogs are about 10 pounds. Sometimes a wean-to-feeder or nursery stage is used until the animal’s weight is approximately 40 pounds, or animals go directly to a finishing stage. At the end of the nursery phase, the pigs enter a feeder-to-finish, or simply, the finishing stage, where at approximately 6 months they reach a desired slaughter weight of above 280 pounds, which will produce an approximate 210 pound carcass.

A desired slaughter weight is the optimum market weight. The goal is to take the average weight for a group of pigs and maximize margin over cost. Meaning, the producer needs to identify the market value against the feed and facility cost associated with the farrow-to-finish operation to identify the optimum market weight, that is, the margin between value and cost. The point at which any further increase in market weight will not pay for the cost of feed and facilities will be considered the optimum market weight.

How Big Are Pigs?

Pigs usually weigh between 300 and 700 lbs. (140 and 300 kilograms), but domestic pigs are often bred to be heavier. The largest pig in history was a swine called Big Bill, who stood at 5 feet (1.52m) tall and weighed an impressive 2,552 lbs (1,157 kilograms), according to Guinness World Records. 

Wild pigs on the other hand vary greatly in size and weight. The largest boar is the giant forest hog (Hylochoerus meinertzhageni). Native to more than a dozen countries across Africa, it grows up to 6.6 feet (2 meters) long and measures 3.6 feet (1.1 metres) tall, according to the Encyclopedia of Life. Though it is rarely seen, video of the elusive beast was captured in June 2018 by ecologists in Uganda, National Geographic reported.

The heaviest boar is the Eurasian wild pig (Sus scrofa), which grows to 710 lbs. (320 kg), and the smallest boar is the pygmy hog (Sus salvanius). This delicate swine grows to a length between 1.8 and 2.4 feet (55 to 71 centimeters) and stands 9.8 inches (25 cm) tall from hoof to shoulder. The pygmy hog only weighs 14.5 to 21 lbs. (6.6 to 9.7 kg), according to the San Diego Zoo.

Where Do Boars Live?

Boars, pigs and hogs live all over the world, except for Antarctica, northern Africa and far northern Eurasia, according to the Encyclopedia of Life. For example, red river hogs (Potamochoerus porcus), also called bush pigs, are found in Africa; babirusas (Babyrousa babyrussa), or pig deer, are found in Indonesia; and Visayan warty pigs (Sus cebifrons) come from the Philippines. 

Wild pigs typically live in grasslands, wetlands, rain forests, savannas, scrublands and temperate forests. Whenever they have the chance, all pigs wallow in mud as it helps them to regulate their body temperature and discourages parasites.

What Kind Of Performance Can You Expect From Pigs?

A three-week pig weighs 12-13 pounds on average. Ten week old pigs should weigh about 50 pounds. Pigs should reach market weight (275 pounds) by 18-20 weeks of age.

Pigs in the nursery will gainabout 1 pound per day and use about 1.5 lbs. of feed for every pound of gain. We often call this the feed to gain ratio – F/G. Pigs in grow finish will average about 1.75 pounds gain per day, with a feed conversion ratio of about 2.75.

With good management and housing, sows will normally farrow about 11 pigs live, and wean an average of 9.5 pigs per litter. Prior to weaning, the average mortality is 5-10 percent. After weaning, mortality usually ranges from 3-5 percent. So of 9.5 pigs weaned per litter, about 8.5 will go to market.

On average, a good producer should market at least 20 pigs per sow per year.  Some excellent managers with very productive sows may average as high as 25 or 26 pigs per sow per year.

What Do Pigs Eat?

Pigs, boars and hogs are omnivores and will eat just about anything. Wild boars, for example, fill the majority of their diet with roots, seeds, bulbs and green plants, according to the Woodland Trust, however as opportunistic feeders they will also chow down on invertebrates, carrion (decaying flesh) and even small mammals found on the forest floor. 

Domestic pigs and hogs are fed feed that is made from corn, wheat, soy or barley. On small farms, pigs are often fed “slop,” which consists of vegetable peels, fruit rinds and other leftover food items. Most species of pigs process plants in their hindguts; however, their digestion of cellulose is inefficient, requiring them to feed often, according to the Encyclopedia of Life.

How Many Offspring Do Pigs Have?

Domestic pigs can breed throughout the year without any seasonal constraints. Once pregnant, female pigs, commonly called sows, carry a litter of around 10 piglets for approximately 114 days before giving birth, according to the animal welfare organisation Compassion in World Farming.  

Within the first six hours piglets suckle the “first milk”, also known as colostrum, which is jam-packed with nutrients and essential antibodies to build the piglet’s immune system. If the piglet drinks the first milk after 25 hours of being born their intestines will not be able to successfully absorb the antibodies in the milk, according to the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board. 

How Much Does A Fully Grown Hog Weigh?

The weight of fully grown male pigs, popularly known as boars, is greater than 500 pounds while the weight of fully grown female pigs, popularly known as sows, ranges between 300 and 500 pounds. At birth, the weight of pigs is approximately 2.5 pounds, while between 6 and 7 months, their weight ranges between 210 and 250 pounds.

Between 2 and 4 weeks from birth, pigs are weaned, and they are known as nursery pigs until they attain a weight of 50 pounds. Pigs are known as finishing/growing pigs when their weight is between 50 and 240 pounds, after which they are known as hogs. Their family name is swine; the father is a boar, the mother is a sow and the babies are the pigs.

The heaviest hog that was ever recorded in history weighed 2,552 pounds and was called Big Bill. The meat of a pig, the pork, provides thiamine, B-vitamins and proteins in a diet. The content of thiamine in pork is three times as much as it is in other types of foods and it converts carbohydrates into energy and boosts a healthy appetite. Pigs also provide up to 40 types of medicines including insulin. In fact, their heart valves are used to restore damaged heart valves of human beings.

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