Introduction: Raising Bacon - Before and After

In this Instructable, created for the "Before and After" contest, I will attempt to illustrate how to raise the world's best pork and bacon. As you can see, in the picture, we have a clear example of the before and after of pork products, including bacon. Mmmmm.

Disclaimer: No animals, or people, were hurt during the making of this Instructable.

Step 1: Find Some Weaner Pigs

The first thing you need to do is build a suitable pen to contain the pigs. We used T posts and panels with a hot wire about 8" off the ground. Pigs will also require a shelter of sorts to help them get out of the elements. Pigs can't sweat so they will need both shade and a wallow pit where they can cool off by getting muddy.

The next step is to find young pigs. Weaner pigs are preferable as they are small enough to easily move, you can catch them and pick them up and they haven't grown up too much eating junk food. You should also look for a barrow - castrated male - as they will grow quickly and pack on the meat but won't have the issues that may come with an uncastrated male - a boar.

We picked up three males (all castrated) and two females.

Step 2: Feed Your Pigs High Quality Food

High quality food given to your pigs will make high quality meat. We purchased a hog mix from our local grain elevator. The mix consisted of wheat, soy, corn and a hog concentrate. We didn't feed our pigs any garden scraps or slop. By strictly monitoring the food we gave our pigs we ensured that the meat was of the highest quality.

Pigs should also have free access to clean water. In another Instructable I demonstrate how I made an automatic hog waterer which made our lives much easier in that regard.

Step 3: Deworm Your Pigs

As your pigs grow you will need to deworm them to help prevent them from developing the nasty internal parasite. Worms in pigs, like in humans, can cause a pig to lose weight and not pack on the meat that you would like. Our pigs lived with us for about five months, which made them about six months old when they were processed. We wormed them when they were about three months old. We found this to be on the edge of our ability to contain and restrain the pigs so they only received one round of dewormer medicine.

Alternatively, you can introduce the medicine into the pigs' water supply but we felt it was better to administer shots so we could ensure each animal received the proper dosage, which we could not control if the medicine was in the water supply.

The video shows the challenge in restraining a very strong animal so they can be given a shot. The shot should be given subcutaneously (beneath the skin) by pinching a fold of skin and inserting the needle into the space between the skin and the muscle. You don't want to deliver the shot into the muscle itself.

I had a friend (who owned one of the pigs) come help me deworm them. This definitely was NOT a one-man job.

Step 4: Watch Your Animals Grow

Pigs are pretty easy animals to keep and they don't mind human interaction (except when you're trying to give them shots). Keep good food always in front of them. Pigs, unlike other animals, won't overeat and will stop eating when they're full. By keeping quality food in front of them they can eat at their leisure.

Step 5: Processing Time

When your pigs are between 250 - 300 pounds it's time to process them. Pigs will grow over 300 pounds but after that point you add fat much more than muscle and your returns for feed costs are diminished. Pigs that are processed in the 250 - 300 range will yield between 150 - 175 pounds of meat.

We had a mobile butcher come to our property and harvest the pigs. Our two daughters (age 4 and 2) watched the animals be processed and prepared for butcher but missed the actual harvest. It is important to us that our children understand from where their food comes. They asked a lot of questions during this process and are looking forward to having pigs again in the spring time.

The butcher took away the pigs and we picked up the best meat we've ever had a short two weeks later.

Comments

author
parisusa (author)2016-04-21

I was raised eating venison & accepted the process. The more children are exposed to the truth about "life" the more they accept. Thank you for explaining this process and including your children.

author
J3tblack (author)2016-01-31

"That'll do pig.. that'll do."

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JasonE (author)J3tblack2016-02-01

Haha! Nice!

author
SusannePrB (author)2016-01-29

... I was expecting more hate in the comment section.

author
JasonE (author)SusannePrB2016-01-29

I was braced for it, too. I am pleasantly surprised and I think it reflects well on the Instructables community.

author
seidl8481 (author)2016-01-25

High quality GMO grains are not the natural diet of a hog. You could weigh out the garden produce to ensure quality meat. And plant specific greens for them.

author
JasonE (author)seidl84812016-01-26

That's a fair point. Thanks!

author
AD8BC (author)2016-01-21

I teared up a little bit when I saw the picture of your freezer filled with wonderful frozen pig. That's beautiful stuff!

author
JasonE (author)AD8BC2016-01-23

Brings a tear to my eye, too! :)

author
jmyers1 (author)2016-01-21

Very clear instructible. I liked how clean and well put together your pig pen is. The method of harvest was humane and professional. Thank you for showing how raising animals should be.

author
JasonE (author)jmyers12016-01-21

Thanks for your kind words!

author
Wreqage (author)2016-01-20

Everything is better with bacon especially this ible nom nom....and even with the pigs parts hanging in that scary truck I think this was awesome!!! I also thinks it's pretty great you are teaching your daughters about the whole process.

author
JasonE (author)Wreqage2016-01-20

Thanks! The butchers were very professional and efficient and they took the time to chat with our girls and answer some of their questions. I expected a bit of squeamish-ness from the girls but they were fascinated by the whole thing. Our oldest was very excited about the prospect of getting bacon and, when we eat it, she reminds us that it came from our pigs. Success! :)

author
ernter (author)2016-01-20

Directly makes me wish not to live in the city :)

Can you share some numbers on
- space recommend per pig
- food per pig per month
?

Thanks!

author
JasonE (author)ernter2016-01-20

Good questions!

Recommended space per pig will really vary depending on who you ask. I've read that a minimum of 50 square feet per pig is needed but more is preferable. You need to be careful with space because if you give them too much then they can run around and burn calories which will increase your feed costs. Our pen is about 800 square feet, which was too much for our five pigs as our feed cost was about double what we expected and I attribute that to allowing the pigs too much room to run.

In considering how much food for a pig, you should consider how much weight you want your pigs to gain. The weaners we picked up were about 30-40 pounds and we wanted them in the 250-300 range, so they needed to gain 220-270 pounds. We figure on about 3.5 pounds of food for every pound of weight gain, which would mean they would need 770-950 pounds of food over the course of their weight gain. It's difficult to predict how much food they'll eat each month as the amount of food they eat increases dramatically as they get bigger. It's easier to calculate total food consumption (using the 3.5 pounds of food per pound of weight gain) and then figure out how much you will be paying per pound of food.

I hope that's helpful!

author
ernter (author)JasonE2016-01-20

Many thanks. Exactly what I was looking for.

That helped me alot to get a better understanding for such an endeavour.

author
OnlyForever88 (author)2016-01-20

Incredible instructables!

author
JasonE (author)OnlyForever882016-01-20

Thanks!

author
shambuda2000 (author)2016-01-20

Nice Instructable! We raised Hampshire sows similar to yours when I was a young man. One thing that cut our feed cost was a deal we made with a local grocery store for their older produce (veg and fruit). We left picking barrels with the store and the produce department filled them. We rotated them once a week. I think those pigs ate better than we did. I remember that as some of the best tasting meat I had every had.

author
JasonE (author)shambuda20002016-01-20

Thanks! That's a good idea!

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copuman1 (author)2016-01-20

how could you kill an innocent animal???? you can go to the grocery store and get meat without any animals being hurt......these are the words my oldest said to me when I talked about raising butcher rabbits lol....nice tut.....

author
JasonE (author)copuman12016-01-20

That's funny stuff!

author
Farmerdiy (author)2016-01-20

Great Instructable. I raise at least 5 Pigs a year. Great way to keep food cost down for those of us with the space to do it. I make all my own feed for my porkers. It is a good way to cut costs. Just soak whole feed corn in water for a day or more to soften it. Then mix it with soy meal. About a 4 to 1 ratio of corn to soy meal by weight. Also butchering is easier then you might suspect.

author
JasonE (author)Farmerdiy 2016-01-20

I'll have to give that a go this spring when we get more animals - thanks!

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Giovanni Lodato (author)2016-01-20

nothing personal ... I was not a breeder and not risked get attached but that's why I became a vegetarian

author
JasonE (author)Giovanni Lodato2016-01-20

Nothing wrong with that. To each their own.

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