Posted August 14, 2014
Someone has asked about buying pork/pigs for Basic Pig Butchery Classes. Since I assume many of you will have similar questions, I'm posting the question and answer here.
What size of pigs do you do your classes with? I have a local farmer that can get me 100 lb. whole pigs at any time. Larger market pigs are available to me with a weeks notice (delivered on Wednesdays). Do you ever use whole pigs? Is 100 lb. whole pig too small for a class? Also they're asking 4.50 a pound for the larger market size and say they can discount the smaller pigs. What's been your experience with different sizes?
I use three "sides" of pork for our pig classes. A side is one half of the pig, cut laterally down the middle of the spine/vertebrae. This usually adds up to about 300 lbs. A 100 lb whole pig is WAYYYY to small. It's going to have watery, undeveloped muscles and very little fat, which is not ideal. The sides I'm using are coming from whole pigs that weigh around 200-250 lbs, hanging weight.
I generally pay between $3-$4 per lb for pigs. It's unclear to me why the larger pigs would be so much more money. Generally farmers sell a price per lb that is consistent, and which does not change with size, with the exception of suckling pigs. So that's a little off to me.
Also, I do not recommend using "whole pigs" for classes (i.e. not split sides). They not only are typically more expensive (because they are sold as "luau" pigs), it is much easier to work on sides, and most butchers who teach your classes will want to do it that way.