And now we have pork…

This year, we raised two Tamworth piglets from six weeks old for about seven months after. Only they are not pigs anymore — they have made that magical transition to pork.

I posted an account recently of the on-farm slaughter experience:

And thought I would follow-up on that by offering visual proof of how much meat two good-sized Tamworth sows produce in one season.

Unfortunately, I don’t have a final weight for how many pounds of meat we have. I wish I would have asked for that from our butcher, because we’re not equipped really with a scale and a simple way to weigh everything at home (unless we used the bathroom scale, which I’m not so sure about).

But I do have two carcass weights I can share:

  • 208 pounds
  • 212 pounds

I am pretty new to this subject and learning as I go, but I understand those weights to be the hanging weight or dressed weight:

To be more specific: our slaughterman/butcher cut the heads off in the field, split the thoracic cavity down the center, cut around the anus and removed the organs, keeping the hearts, livers and the rognons (evidently this is the French word used for kidneys in a culinary context). He also cut the lower joints including the hooves. So for the weights above, it includes skin (and hair), fat, bones and meat.

For pigs, Wikipedia remarks regarding live versus dressed weight:

To compare, a 250-pound pig will typically have a dressed weight of 180 pounds and a retail cuts weight of 144 pounds. This is a net of 72% dressed weight, with only 57% of the original live weight becoming retail cuts.[4]

So from that we can make some rough calculations:

  • If a dressed weight of 208 lbs is 72% of the live weight, that animal may have weighed around 288lbs.
  • If a dressed weight of 212 lbs is 72% of the live weight, that animal may have weighed around 294lbs.

Rough calculations, for sure. And there are some other rough calculations you can do for weight while the animals are still alive, using a piece of cord. We didn’t do those this year. I was kind of like, we’ll get what we get from it.

But it’s still good to do some analysis to understand the whole experience, the process, the inputs and the yield.

If my calculations [courtesy of the ratio calculator — one of the tools I relied on the most for product pricing this season] are correct, then that would mean approximate “retail cuts” weight of 154 lbs and 158 lbs.

Let’s just call that 300 pounds of meat total.

An estimate, of course. But if you look at the following pictures, you’ll probably agree that’s not far from accurate. It is a scary amount of meat (honestly, I’m already tired of eating meat from all the chickens and turkeys)

Here is the meat:

Ground pork
More ground pork, plus a variety of chops, roasts and other cuts that I know nothing about…
More cuts
And cuts
And cuts…
And cuts…
And cuts — with a few organs

And the fat…

Fortunately or unfortunately, I’m not sure which, our butcher only saved the fat from one animal, “to show us”. I would have preferred of course that he save both and let us make the decision, but we’re not too experienced with this still (even though it’s our second year raising pigs for family use).

I have no idea of the weight of this box, but:

I would guess somewhere around 40 lbs of just fat from one animal. Which is incredible. The farmer who sold us the piglets tells me they themselves sell the lard for frying or rendering for soap for $2/lb (CAD). That farmer also tells me it’s best to have the animals butchered when their live weight is around 220lbs — which I too would have preferred, but our slaughterman wasn’t ready until a month after I had intended.

I’ve found out you can also make candles with the lard, as well as something the French call saindoux (which I think translates to like “healthy-soft”). [French Wikipedia entry on saindoux — I guess it just translates to “lard”] And a link about rendering tallow (which is actually fat from beef, but same idea).

Last Year’s Figures

Managed to resurrect some of my numbers from last year. Things were a bit different last year though as the family raised three “pink pigs” (in fact four, one died) who were rejects from a research facility. Their carcass weights were 135 lbs, 140 lbs, 145 lbs.

This year

Last year our guy charged us $25 per animal for slaughter & evisceration (dressing) and $0.75 CAD per pound for butchering. This year he raised his prices to $30 slaughter/dressing out and $0.80 CAD per pound. So for a 208 and a 212 lb carcass, we paid:

$396.00 CAD

Which, if you think about it, sort of sucks. That is, you pay $80 for each piglet, feed them for 6–7 months (around $20 a week — I haven’t done the calculation for the feed yet), and then you have to pay another two hundred dollars each to have them slaughtered and to get your meat back in little pieces.

Granted, I’m not equipped (not to mention experienced) enough to do butchering myself at home. But damn, that would save us a lot of money.

As it is, I’m starting to see a pattern emerge with raising animals for meat. Because of the at least twice daily care that goes on for however many months, you have the impression that you’re doing ALL THIS WORK and spending all this money on feed, etc. And you feel like you have nothing to show for it — UNTIL YOU GET THE MEAT BACK!!

And then you’re like, oh yeah, that’s a shit-ton of meat. What the hell am I going to do with all of this?

Of course the funniest part, is now that we have all this readily available high-quality really tasty meat, I’m feeling more and more vegetarian. Not out of ethical reasons, but just because — damn — I can’t eat meat three times a day!

Funny what happens when your priorities and your relationships with your food are completely reset…

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