What's in half a pig share

Just launched a kickstarter campaign to raise money to fund scientific research around the nutritional break down of fodder at various stages of growth for our book on Fodder. Please check it out!

Someone asked me today what comes with a half a pig share. I can't believe that we haven't posted that yet. Below is a typical break down of what comes with a half a pig share. Double it for some idea of what a whole pig would yield. This is most likely more info then you ever wanted to know about a pig and its parts but if you have questions about something just ask!

The short answer

There are about 23 pork chops from a half pig, 2 roasts, 1 ham, 8 lbs of bacon slab, 3 lbs of spare ribs, 9 lbs of ground pork, totaling about 75 lbs in the freezer for half a pig. The chart below gives you a quick graphic view. Click on the image for a larger graphic so you can read the small print. This can vary with the individual pig as well as how thick the pork chops are cut and such.

Do be aware though that you are able to grow out your pig as large as you like it with in reason. Butchering a 1200 pound pig could be quite costly! Pay attention to butchering costs...they generally charge by the pound. Most butchers are reasonably tooled for about a 300lb pig.

The long answer

As a pig gets larger there is more fat to trim off. A typical slaughter weight is between 250-300 pounds. A 250lb pig will yield on average about 180 lbs of hanging weight. If you just take the prime cuts you will get about 120lbs of meat in the freezer. If you take the whole pig home - nose to tail - you will get about 160lbs of meat in the freezer. Nose to tail includes: hocks, soup bones, lard, liver, jowls (like bacon), head, trotters (feet), and other bits. If you do your research up front, or watch the videos on our butchering page you will see that you can use the blood and just about every other part of the pig to make something edible out of.

The joy of having a big ole piece of meat in your hands is that you can have it cut up any way you like! If you take a look at our red wattle page you will see a bunch of different cuts available. Different butchers might offer different cuts. But you can ask for things like sausage in links or paddies with all sorts of different seasonings which will be created from all the left over bits of your pork. Perhaps you are interested in more ground meat and less big hams. Or you might want a tenderloin instead of pork chops.

If you don't know what you want, ask for a standard cut for a family size of 2 - or what ever your family count is.

No matter what cuts you ask for, you are most likely going to be asked by the butcher how much sausage you want. Left over bits become sausage. This is sausage in bags of around a pound each - not links. You can get links but that costs a tad more. This can be used for meat balls, chilli, American chop suey, spaghetti sauce, breakfast susage patties with fresh pastured chicken eggs, etc. Most butchers offer several options such as: plain, sweet Italian, mild Italian, hot Italian, or maple. For a standard cut there is only about nine pounds of sausage so stick to one type of seasoning.

Here is a rough break down of what you might expect in a half a pig share.

Pounds Cut
13 Pork chops 1″ – total of 23 pork chops, 7 packs of 2 + 3 packs of 3
3 Spare Ribs – Ask for my mother’s recipe if you need one
9 Hamburger/Sausage ground meat in 1 lb packages
15 Fresh Ham – easily brined or sent for smoking
8 Fresh Bacon Slab – brine & slice or send for smoking
10 Shoulder Roast
4 Butt Pork Roast
5 Stew Bones – good for dogs if you don’t make soup or stew
8 Fat – you can render this or feed it to dogs or chickens
75 Total pounds of cuts in the freezer

A typical pig will yield 60 to 70 pounds of cuts. Since our pigs are pasture raised, heritage breed animals, they are real live createus - thus they have some variance rather than the cookie cutter uniformity of factory farmed products.

Two other terms around pig weight that you might have is hanging weight and live weight.

Hanging weight

The hanging weight is the combination of both the left and right side of the pig. This is usually measured without the skin, the head, or the feet. Some places measure the hanging weight with the head, skin, and feet which yields a higher hanging weight. Without the extra parts you lose some meat, pork rinds, etc. But with all the extra parts your hanging weight is higher. It is important to know how the hanging weight is determined at your butcher and how they calculate the hanging weight as it will impact your bill.

The processing is a big part of the cost of a pig. If you process the pig yourself, the butchering or both the butchering and the slaughtering, you save yourself a lot of money. It's not too hard to do. And the tools needed are relatively cheap! You can processing a pig with just knives. But having a low cost bone saw is certainly helpful ($20-$30). If you want fancy cuts such as having bone in pork chops you might want a meat band saw and possibly a grinder.

If you weigh your pig with the skin, head, and feet attached, the hanging weight will be much higher than the total cuts weight. The difference is somewhere between 10-20lbs. If you don't intend to use the head, feet, and skin - that is up to 20lbs of trash that you are paying for!

Live weight

The live weight concept is buying a whole, live, breathing, snorting, pig. They tend to weigh more than any other variants.


Why is half a pig per pound more than a whole pig per pound?

Buying half a pig is the more expensive way to go. To buy half a pig means that the farmer has to kill and slaughter the animal to be able to turn over a raw half of an animal to you. And then locate another customer to buy the other half or the remaining parts. Buying in bulk - a whole pig in this case - allows the farmer to pass on a great deal of savings to you!

Pigs can be raised to any size!

Pigs can be raised to just about any weight. You just need to ask the farmer that is raising the pig. If you want more or less pork for your freezer you can ask the farmer to grow your pig for a bit longer. The farmer will be happy to do this for you as they make slightly more money on the already sold pig. Most local butchers are not big industry workers. They are not held to the same tight tolerances in their animal processing methods. If they have a bigger or smaller animal to process they will figure it out! Got a big family like us...buy big pigs for your freezer!