Decide what type of piggery

At the planning stage, you need to make decisions about the:

  • type of system
  • size of unit
  • feeding method
  • health status
  • source of stock
  • effluent handling
  • marketing.

Prepare a business plan which covers:

  • capital costs
  • cash flow budgets
  • financing opportunities.

Pig production operates in an unpredictable economic climate with fluctuating grain prices affecting feed cost. At the same time, the pork price responds to supply and demand, including the effect of imports and exports.

Read more about starting a business.

Market opportunities

There are 4 basic markets in Queensland for pigs:

  • baconers: 50–105kg dressed weight
  • porkers: 30–50kg dressed weight
  • weaners: 15–30kg live weight
  • breeding stock: maiden gilts and young boars.

Marketing weight will determine the infrastructure and production system you need to use.

If you only want to start a small business with a few pigs, you can buy weaners and rear them for sale as porkers or baconers in simple, naturally-ventilated buildings.

A more ambitious plan may be a climate-controlled, farrow-to-finish unit on a green field site. Whatever business model you adopt, the facilities and management system must meet the pig welfare code.

Pig markets

Most pigs are sold at baconer weight with carcasses used for a range of products, including fresh meat and cured products.

Porker-weight pigs are used for fresh meat. Weaners are usually sold through sale yards for further feeding to slaughter weight, or for special consumer markets.

Some producers sell smaller numbers to local butchers or contract-buyers on a regular basis. Larger businesses sell regular consignments to processing facilities.

Producing free-range, outdoor-bred or organic pork is also a business option.

In Queensland, most pork producers operate a breeding herd and rear the progeny to baconer weight (80 to 90kg dressed carcass weight). By selling at a heavier weight, you can spread non-feed costs over a larger volume of meat produced, compared with selling a 65 to 75kg carcass.