March 25, 2021
What to expect when purchasing half a hog.
Give me a pack of bacon and I can whip up some breakfast, but a half of a pig…what do I do with that?!?!
How much meat is that? How much space do I need in my freezer? How long will it take to eat all that?
These are all good questions, some which don’t have a cut and dry answer. But I like challenges and am going to try and answer them for you.
Here at May Hill Farm we raise pigs that we get from a local farmer friend of ours. We get them when they are about 50-60 lbs. and super cute and raise them until they are about 280 pounds and will knock you over trying to get to the feed trough full of apples (but that’s a story for another day). The pigs eat pig feed as well as lots of fruits and vegetables we get from our local grocery store. See this post to learn more about the fruits and veggies.
We sell pork by the whole hog, half hog, and by the individual cut. We charge by the pound based on hanging weight of the pig and the butcher charges for processing based on the hanging weight. I won’t get into details on all of that, but you can find more info here.
How much meat is that?
Half of a pig will yield approximately 70-90 pounds of meat for your freezer. Keep in mind this weight varies due to the size of the pig and the butcher (not the size of the butcher, but how they process the pig). Your cut selections will also impact the amount of meat you get. We encourage our customers to take all the cuts they can to maximize the yield. Also note that yield is different from hanging weight, which is different from live weight. The yield or “cut and wrapped” weight is what you are going home with and putting in your freezer. The hanging weight is how much the animal weights after slaughter (still includes bones). Live weight is how much the pig weights when it is running around the farm.
About the cuts…did you know you get some say in the cuts and sizes of cuts when you get a half of a hog? You will go through cutting instructions with the butcher and let them know the thickness you want your pork chops, how many pounds you want each shoulder roast to be, etc. You can get your meat cut and packaged to be most convenient for your family. If you have four people in your family you can get pork chops packaged four to a pack so you know you just have to pull one pack out of the freezer for dinner!
Here is a breakdown of what you would typically get from half a hog:
How do you figure out how much you need? A good rule of thumb is one cubic foot of freezer space for each 35-40 pounds of meat. So you would need about 2.5 cubic feet of space for half of a pig. Our French door refrigerator with freezer drawer on the bottom has a 7.77 cubic foot capacity. A side by side fridge/freezer could have about 9 cubic feet of space. Check online to get the exact capacity of your freezer or measure the height, width, and depth and then use this formula to figure it out.
Height x width x depth = cubic feet
How long will it take to eat all of that?
Now here is where we get into that gray area. It depends how much pork you eat and how often you cook at home. When I menu plan (which is most weeks we want to eat) I like to figure at least one meal with beef, one with pork, and one with chicken. Sometimes I throw in one meal with fish. Then I fill in where needed.
Here is an approximate breakdown of what that looks like in terms of number of meals for a family of four based on the chart above:
Based on my guestimation, a half of a pig may last a family of four about six months if you are eating one dinner with pork a week. You will run out of bacon long before that six months is up, but don’t despair…you can purchase additional bacon from May Hill Farm here!
We hope that helps you understand what purchasing a half of a pig entails. We would love to hear from you with additional questions at firstname.lastname@example.org!