I have been trying to decide if cows or pigs are more profitable. I have several acres of land that have sat empty for the last few years. Both beef and pork are popular meats. So I’ve looked into it. Here’s what I found out.
Are cows or pigs more profitable? If you are raising dozens of animals, then cows are generally more profitable than pigs. Cattle herds reproduce and there are many ways to make money off of them. But, if you are looking to raise a few animals, then pigs are more profitable than cows. That’s because cows cost more and will need more set up than pigs do so it takes more cows and more years of farming to break even.
As you can see, there are many variables in profiting from animals. Let’s look at some of the variables in raising pigs and cows.
The Cost Of A Pig
Generally speaking, a piglet will sell for $60-$100 each. You may even able to find a small or runt pig for a lower price because it will take more care to grow. Heritage or purebred pigs can cost as much as $200 each. Some breeds will cost even more.
If you are planning to fatten your pig and sell it in the same summer, you will need to supplement some of its diet with feed. Pigs can subsist on foraging if they have enough room to forage. But, simple scraps from the house and foraging won’t provide enough calories for your pig to grow big enough during the summer to butcher it in the fall.
Pigs have a feed conversion rate of about 2.5. That means that pigs need about 2.5 or 3 pounds of food for each pound they grow. If you are planning to grow your pig 175 pounds, you will need to feed your pig about 450 pounds of feed.
Pig feed costs about $15-20 for a 50-pound bag of feed. Corn is the most popular feed for fattening pigs. That means it will cost you about $135 to fatten your pig. Those numbers are rounded up. You can lower the cost of a pig by crowing corn feed and using it as feed for your hogs. Corn is mostly empty calories. It is typically a lower-cost feed to purchase in seed and in feed.
Make sure that you raise at least 2 pigs though. Pigs are social and will eat and grow better if they have company.
Although hog prices vary depending on the time of the year, in 2018, hog prices were $75 per cwt or about $0.75 a pound.
If you are planning to only raise a couple of pigs for one year, it will be unlikely that you will break even. You will have other costs such as the cost of fencing, watering, and bedding the pigs. However, if you are planning to raise more than a couple of pigs for multiple years, then pigs are a great investment.
4H Makes Pigs More Profitable
If you have kids and a 4H club nearby, then consider having your kids raise the piglets. 4H kids can usually buy pigs at an auction for less than if you just bought the piglets outright. Additionally, when they go to sell at the fair, 4H pigs sell for a little more than the market price. 4H can also be a great way to learn about caring for pigs if you haven’t ever done it before. Your child can go and learn more about farming and teach you what they learned. This is an ideal situation for learning!
What Type Of Cows Are Most Profitable?
If you are considering going with cattle instead of a pig, then it’s important to look at different types of cows. Basically, cows are used for two types of products. That includes beef cattle and dairy cows. Dairy cows need more nutrients and higher quality of food than beef cows. That’bs because they are eating for two!
Additionally, they will need to be bred at least once to start producing milk. You will also need some set up for milking the cows unless you plan to do it by hand. These days, milk cows are rarely milked by hand. That means you will need equipment.
The level of sophistication and how much you use technology will affect how long it takes you to make money. It will also affect how tied to the cow you are or whether you can go on vacation or not.
Beef cows can be kept in the field until they are ready to be sold. Beef cows will get the highest price per pound at 12-24 months. Beef cows will need to be fed, but won’t need daily maintenance as dairy cows will. They also need less food each day.
The Cost Of A Cow
The cost of a cow varies drastically across the United States. A calf can cost as much as $550 (or more). Yearlings, or young cows, sell for between $800 and $1,500 a piece. Full-grown cows range between $2,000 and $5,000 each.
The cost of the cow will also vary based on the type of the cow. Beef yearlings tend to be $150 more than the cost of a dairy yearling. So while dairy calves cost about $600, a beef calf will cost about $750. The same is true of fully grown cows. Beef cows can sell for as little as $900 while it is difficult to find a beef cow for less than $2,000.
In addition to the actual cost of a cow, you will need to consider it’s feed. Cows will need to be kept fenced us and will need a shelter in the winter.
How Can I Start A Beef Herd For Less Money?
Dairy cows are usually bred with beef cows to keep the cow lactating. Dairy farmers usually sell their male cows and half breeds for a lower price than other beef farmers. These cows aren’t useful for a dairy farm.
This can be a great way to start your heard for a smaller price. You can also purchase younger calves that require bottle feeding and other care. These calves have a higher mortality rate and so are cheaper to purchase.
How Much Property Do I Need To Raise Cows Or Pigs?
Cows generally need between one to two acres per cow. That means that if you have a heard of 12 cattle, you will need about 12 -18 acres to feed your cows.
Pigs need less space. You can raise between 12 and 14 sows on each acre of land.
In addition to land, you will also need to fence in your animals. Both cows and pigs can be fenced with barbed wire or with an electric fence. This means that you won’t have a lot of adjustments to make if you choose to switch animals or rotate both herds through the same pasture.
Are Cows Dangerous? Cows are large animals and can be dangerous. Cows can be raised to be extremely people friendly or raised in a herd without as much contact with humans. Cows have been known to stampede and kill people. They are especially vulnerable when unknown dogs are near. Dogs can trigger fear in cows and cause them to chase the dog. This can spell danger for the owner. Bulls are more aggressive and pose more of a threat.
Cows can also be extremely friendly. However, even when friendly they are very large. A friendly cow can saddle up to a person for a visit and end up bowling them over.
Are Pigs Tame?
Wild pigs are much more dangerous than domesticated farm pigs. But, even farm pigs can be dangerous because of their weight. Farm pigs are not generally aggressive. They tend to be mellow animals and can become attached to their owners, especially if they spend time with them. However, it is important to be aware of their instincts. If the piglets are threatened, pigs can bite. There have also been occasional reports of pigs attacking people.
How can I stay safe from my farm animals?
One of the best ways to ensure your safety is to understand each animals’ inherent needs. Animals need food, shelter, and water. They will also fight to defend their young. Many animals can be tamed through consistent care and attention. This is especially true if you raise them from when they are young. However, even bottle-fed animals have different personalities. Some animals are more aggressive than others. Additionally, the males of nearly any species tend to be more aggressive than the females. Understanding your animals and how to care for them is the best step you can take.
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