Hogs used to pay the bills around here but the mega corps have taken the market away.
I feel I was really good at raising and growing hogs ( I was small but had a contract with Emge to deliver between 45 and 55 head every Wed. morning ) and life was very predictable, deliver 12 to 15 head of fat cattle every Sun evening to Drake & Co at the Indy stockyard and about 50 hogs to Emge at Anderson every Wed. Checks to the bank twice a week work hard , play hard and then the Goverment put so many regulations on the packing houses they all shut their doors.
Now if there is a problem at a Mega packing house instead of 2 or 3 people having problems if there is a problem thousands of people are affected!
The only thing I don't miss about raising hogs is the smell!
George, like you I find the hogs to be a reliable business. Down here the real market occurs in December. Venezuelans prepare a special dish during the Christmas-New Year's holiday and the main ingredient is pork. They go crazy in December looking for hogs.
Feed prices have gotten so high though that many of the smaller hog producers have all but given up.
I sort of modified my program. First off, I produce as much of my own feed as possible. Secondly, I enclosed a rough area on my place of about 50 acres with an electric fence and for half the year my feed costs drop to virtually zero. During our "winter" or wet season, there's plenty of natural forage for the animals and I've got a large pond there as well.
The largest of my animals will be released within a week or so into this pen and I'll pull them out in late November in anticipation of December sales.
I find keeping the pigs on pasture leaves almost no smell, and we get a bumper crop of wheat or corn silage when we move them. It is always a good policy to source as much feed as possible on site or from free sources such as restraunt or school canteen waste food (local health laws permitting!)
I also run some pigs in the woods from September to November to clean up the acorns, crab apples, beech nuts etc, then sell them on the Christmas market at a premium as organic acorn fed pork (mostly oak smoked)>
It's a challenge down here to make a living and I'm enjoying the heck out of trying to do it.
Just got back from the ranch and two days in the tractor seat! Everything's green, way too much broad-leaf in my bermuda, but the cattle all are in tip-top condition and the hogs are looking really good as well. The one that birthed 11 the other day still has all 11.
I'll take a day or two break to get some things done in the city and then it's back to the tractor seat and some really serious work. We're about to start baling hay with our own equipment for the first time.