Production Cost vs. Market Value Comparison of Rare Breed and Commercial Swine

Project Overview

Project Type: Farmer/Rancher
Funds awarded in 2004: $10,000.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2006
Region: Southern
State: Virginia
Principal Investigator:


  • Agronomic: grass (misc. perennial), hay
  • Animals: bovine, swine


  • Animal Production: housing, manure management, grazing - multispecies, grazing - rotational, feed/forage
  • Crop Production: agroforestry
  • Education and Training: demonstration, on-farm/ranch research
  • Farm Business Management: new enterprise development, budgets/cost and returns, marketing management, feasibility study, risk management
  • Production Systems: permaculture
  • Soil Management: organic matter

    Proposal summary:

    Fewer and fewer small farmers are raising hogs. And many that do have become contract growers. This means that they are subject to the methods and breeds dictated to them by the pork corporations. In today’s uncertain economic environment many individuals are not willing to take the economic risk of building large-scale facilities required by the large commercial interests nor are they able to remain competitive using conventional close confinement methods on a small scale.

    Heritage and rare breed swine, such as Tamworths, are being overlooked as marketable hogs on the premise that their cost of production is not justified. In other words, heritage breeds are not considered as alternative, low cost and profitable options. Further, the majority of hog producers are using animal-unfriendly confinement techniques.

    This project will compare the profitably of raising Tamworth and Yorkshire hogs in a rotational grazing system and a third group of Yorkshires raised in a traditional, confinement, commercial establishment. The producers hope to show that Tamworths, and perhaps Yorkshires, raised sustainably can yield a similar or greater profit than hogs raised in confinement. If the results of our research are positive, they hope to encourage small farmers to raise heritage breed hogs using sustainable, animal-friendly agricultural methods. Producing small numbers of heritage breed hogs profitably frees limited-resource farmers from having to sign on with commercial hog producers.

    Over a two year period, the growers will raise three different brood sow groups; Tamworth sows raised in a rotational grazing system, Yorkshire sows raised in a rotational grazing system and Yorkshire sows raised by a commercial producer in confinement.

    Taking the appropriate measurements and using statistical analysis, they will compare average weaned weight per pig for each group, determine each pig’s respective market average price per pound, and the final net profit gained from each sow in each of the three groups.

    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.