Resources for Small Scale Swine Producers

By Adam Hady, Richland County Agriculture Agent & UWEX Swine Team

Wisconsin has a rich tradition of agriculture and in the past swine production was a key element to a diversified livestock production system.  As times have changed and focus has changed, we got away from diversification on our farms.  Well, like all things, the pendulum has swung back.  Young and small scale producers are looking at diversified livestock as a means to be part of the local foods movement and enrich the agricultural heritage that Wisconsin has enjoyed.

There are many opportunities for families and small farms to take advantage of local markets. With these opportunities, the University of Wisconsin – Cooperative Extension (UWEX) and the UWEX Swine Team has developed resources and tools to help producers reach their goals.  The key location for these resources is UWEX Pig Connect Site .   This is an online classified designed to link farmers and growers from around the state who have animals or swine equipment and can post an ad regarding what they have or what they are looking for.  This site also has a tools tab.  Under the tools tab is a Freezer Pig Pricing Worksheet.

The Freezer Pig Pricing Worksheet is a tool that can be used to help buyers and sellers determine the sale price for direct marketed grain fed pigs.  The spreadsheet is broke down into three areas.  The first area provides a rough cost of production for the producer.  Items in this area are the initial cost of the pig, feed cost, marketing, etc.  By having these costs, the second section of the spreadsheet then allows you to do some price comparisons between live price and hanging carcass price.  This section also provides a gain/loss estimate as well.

The third section allows the producer to estimate costs to the buyer including harvest and processing costs.  This section also gives an estimate of pounds of product the customer will put in their freezer.  Other information this section can provide is an overall cost per pound (purchase, harvest and processing) for the customer.   Overall these are two valuable tools that small producers can utilize in their tool box to determine cost and help market their product.

As a second great resource for Wisconsin swine producers is the Pork Information Gateway (PIG) .  PIG is a free online resource for swine producers across the country. The PIG library provides numerous factsheets, videos, how-to guides, and reference materials for all facets of pork production.  The site is broken down into multiple categories  that include: Production and Management Systems, Swine Nutrition,  Pork Quality,  Swine Health, Animal Behavior and Welfare Issues, Breeding and Genetics, and Small and Beginning Farmers to name a few.

As more small scale farms look to diversify and build their resources, these are a few that can provide a rock solid foundation and be adaptable to the many ways in which we can raise hogs in a diverse market here in Wisconsin.