The following Efficiency Factors are based on averages and they are a useful guide to the performance of a farmer’s pig enterprise.

Litters per sow in 1 year2.2
Live pigs per litter – born10
Pigs weaned per sow in 1 year18
Weaner mass –    at 6 weeks12kg
at 8 weeks18kg
Creep feed per weaner20kg
Food per weaner, including sow and boar10 kg
Food consumed to bacon30 kg
Food conversion to bacon kg meal/ kg Live Mass Gain (L.M.G).3 – 1
Days to bacon weight165

The factors affecting the productivity of a pig enterprise are shown below:


In pig production the price received for the finished pig is related very closely to the weight of the pig. Pigs for slaughter are graded carefully into porkers, baconers and overmass pigs, and the weight limits and prices are adjusted accordingly.


Good grades are vital in bacon production and 80% Grade 1, 15% Grade 2 and 5% Grade 3 is a reasonable standard. Grading is based on Cold Dressed Mass, the ‘K’ measurement in mm and fat measurement taken at the shoulder and rump. For a bacon pig of 65kg C.D.M., the difference between Grade 1 and Grade 3 is 8% which is the difference between profit and loss.


People today, prefer lean pork and bacon rashers with only a small amount of fat over the lean meat. Payments for pork and bacon pigs are higher for lean carcasses than they are for those carrying a lot of fat.

During the grading of bacon and pork pig carcasses, the fat thickness is measured at a point above the ‘eye’ muscle; this is known as the ‘K’ measurement, and is expressed in millimetres. The ‘K’ measurement is taken by an instrument called an optical probe, the point of which is inserted at right angles to the skin at the measuring points shown in the diagrams above.

In addition to measuring the fat thickness, bacon carcasses are assessed by visual inspection. Thin, unfleshed pigs are classed as inferior regardless of their ‘K’ measurement. Porkers having poorly developed hams are downgraded, and any baconer having soft and oily fat is graded as a manufacturing pig because such a carcass is unsuitable for curing as bacon.

These rather exacting standards for the grading of pigs can be met only by feeding a properly balanced cereal/protein ration and by good management. Bacon pigs are slaughtered before they have finished growing, and the farmer must aim to keep his pigs growing evenly so that they suffer no setbacks.

As with other forms of livestock enterprise, the gross output for a pig enterprise is calculated by means of the Livestock Trading Account and detailed records should be kept of all receipts and input costs.


The main factor affecting the variable costs of a pig herd is food, since 70% – 80% of the costs of producing a bacon pig is the cost of its food. In the later stages of growth, food has to be rationed to bacon pigs in order to keep down costs and to ensure good grades. Overfeeding is costly because the pigs eat more than they really need, and are then down-graded because of excessive fat on the carcass. The cost of the meal depends on the protein levels fed, the value used for any home grown maize in the ration, and other factors such as getting the best discounts on food purchased from merchants. The conversion rates of pigs in the herd, the amount of food required to put on 1 kg of live-mass gain, can be improved by good breeding policies and the use of performance tested boars in the herd.

Average Variable Costs for a pig herd, on a percentage of total costs basis, are shown in the table below.

Variable Costs, percentage of total:%
Feed: Creep feed and concentrate38
Feed: Maize 40t 300kg34
Veterinary and Medicines           2
Water  3
Building Repairs2
Depreciation on pig buildings3
Total     100

The Gross Margin for a pig enterprise is generally in the region of 25%.


Records that should be kept by the farmer in order to run an efficient pig enterprise are:

  • Identification   
    • Ear notch or tag
  • Sow Records
    • Number of Sow
    • Pigs born
    • Pigs weaned
    • Birth and weaning mass of litters.
  • Service and Farrowing Records
  • Record of Litters
    • Days to bacon
    • Grading returns
  • Feed Records
  • All Stock Purchases, Sales, Births and Deaths
  • All Variable Costs
  • Weekly Mass
    • To enable pigs to be marketed at the correct mass
    • For performance and progeny testing