Pig on a bathroom scale

Real farmers have livestock scales. We are not real farmers, but we do have livestock. We’d like to know their weight, so we’ve worked out a simple method using only readily available tools:

  1. Get a bathroom scale
  2. Chase down a pig
  3. Pick up pig, stand on bathroom scale, check weight
  4. Drop pig, check weight, calculate the difference

Easy! The result should look something like this:

For large pigs like ours, you’ll need one of the new bathroom scales they sell here in the U.S. which can measure weights up to a half ton. Since we’ve tracked feed for both pigs as an aggregate, it would save time to just weigh both pigs at once. This can be a little tricky, but not impossible. Here’s the general idea:

Wait a second …

Okay, okay, I know what you are thinking. “Those pictures are obviously fakes. There’s no mud on your clothes!”


Actually, in the comments to our last post, Ron suggested that there was in fact a simple method to estimate pig weight using only a string and a tape measure. We decided to give it a try.

First, measure the pig’s girth immediately behind the front legs:

Then measure the pig’s length, from the base of its ears to the base of its tail. I found that this number can vary by 3-4 inches depending on head position, so I scratched their ears so they’d put their head up. (The shorter length.)

That site claims the formula is pretty accurate, so I’m going to guess that the accuracy is limited by one’s ability to measure a bucking, wiggling, rooting animal. We dropped another pumpkin in their pen and I chased them around with a string while they munched on it. Results are:

  • Big pig
    Girth: 47
    Length: 41
  • Little pig
    Girth: 43
    Length: 40

I took all the measurements twice. Given measurements in inches, the formula for weight in pounds is simply:

live_weight = girth * girth * length / 400

So, if my numbers are to be believed (don’t count on it), the formula predicts:

  • Big pig:
    Live weight: 226 lbs
    Hanging weight: 162 lbs
  • Little pig:
  • Live weight: 184 lbs
    Hanging weight: 132 lbs

I’m using 72% as the hanging weight conversion. I’ve also seen 75% suggested. The numbers show they can’t reach my 200 lb hanging weight goal by their scheduled butcher date, Jan 15th. Oh well. Live and learn. The 40 lb difference between the two pigs certainly seems believable too, even if we don’t carry them around in our spare time.

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17 Responses to Pig on a bathroom scale

  1. Leigh says:

    LOL. Great post. Fun and informative!

  2. Nina says:

    Great post! Love the photos :*)

    We have tried this method and have not been very successful (for the reasons you have given: chasing rooting, active pigs around is not so easy. They just don’t seem to want to get serious about their girth!). Our measurements gave us very conservative estimates. The pigs were always much bigger. So you may be surprised when you get their hanging weights. Good luck!

  3. So what would you do different next time to meet your goal? More feed? Funny post.

  4. Ron says:

    You guys are so funny. I love it. 🙂

    Oh yeah, those pigs are just fine. 220 is a great weight, and at around 1 1/2 lb gain per day at this stage (if I remember right… don’t quote me on that….), they should be plenty large. I think most market hogs get sent off by around 220. I know we let ours get about 260 the first time, and almost 300 the 2nd time, and we ended up with quite a lot of backfat. I’ve told myself that I’m not going to let them get more than 250, maybe 240 next time. Even then, there’s plenty of lard for a year.

    I made it a habit to scratch their ears and give them something good when I measured, and would do it every few days. They get used to it, so other than knocking you around they aren’t so skittish.

    Next year when we have pigs I’m going to laugh my butt off thinking about weighing them the way you guys did in the photos, though. 🙂


  5. Woody says:

    Wow…you been working out?

  6. Woody says:

    It appears it’s time to make bacon. Your listed weights are good unless you need more fat to make sausage.

  7. Benita says:

    I was wondering when your porkers would become pork chops. Are you keeping both or selling the meat from one of them?

  8. greg says:

    Very nice post, great photos. A happy and successful new year to you all, pigs included.

  9. Phoebe says:

    Rock On! Like my mom used to always say “If you lift a calf every day eventually you can lift a cow.” I’m sure a few Big Macs and a some super sized Cokes will tip the scale quite nicely- for the pigs, not you!

  10. lynn says:

    Love the pics! 🙂 The pigs are looking great! Did you track the money spent on feed and all to determine the profit? If I remember right you are selling a pig and a half, or is my memory wrong? Hmmm, I love bacon, maybe Randy and I should get a couple pigs this year…

    Happy New Year Farm Folly crew!

  11. Marianne says:

    That was a laugh out loud moment and I made the husband get off the couch to come look. Happy New Year from western Oregon. (We do sheep, turkeys and chickens)

  12. Nice pigs! I found you while searching for “chicken waterer” and “aquarium heater” and couldn’t help but laugh at your pig weigh-in. (I posted a virtually identical photo, except with a turkey and for real, a couple months back.)

    We’re doing a lot of what you’re doing, except in a more half-assed manner, on the other side of the country. We’ve got chickens and bees, turkeys and gardens, out in the wilds of Cape Cod. We’re spending the entire winter trying to decide whether we’ll try pigs in the spring, and I have to say those pictures of pigs in a full-out sprint are pretty compelling.

    Thanks for your chronicle. I’ll be following.

  13. lee says:

    Hey, thanks to everyone for the comments. Glad we generated a few chuckles with our absurdity. I’m presently working on a website update and redesign which will allow hierarchical comments. When that’s finished it will be a lot easier to respond to each comment directly.

    Nina – I’ll measure two more times, and then compare against hanging weight. Hopefully they are being under-estimated a little!

    Ron, Woody – Nice to hear we might be right on for butcher weight. I just ran out of the last bag of stored food. Looks like I underestimated by about 200lbs.

    Benita – The butcher date is Dec 15th. Less than two weeks away now.

    Phoebe – I’ve heard that too, but I have my doubts! 😉

    Lynn – We’ve tried to track absolutely everything, both on the pig log (which includes costs) and separately. We are planning to self a half pig and keep the rest, but I haven’t talked to my prospective buyer in a while. “Profit” is unfortunately not on the table. I’d love to get the price-per-pound you see in stores, but around here anything beyond $2/lb (hanging weight) and your market shrinks rapidly. I expect that will barely cover costs. We’re going to do a big summary post with costs, inputs, and outputs.

    Tamar – I have to say things feel pretty half-assed around here most of the time too. 🙂

    I hope the new year goes well for all of you!

  14. haha..funny stuff. Once I get the other work done I think I will be on to this. Also want them to clean out the brush so I am planning on putting the fence in a wooded area and letting them have at it. I really like the fencing you have too. Every picture of winter there seems like a dream while I am on the subject..green(ish) grass, orange pumpkins, almost no white stuff(snow). I need to move somewhere warmer!

  15. Pingback: Pig antics and bad measurements » Farm Folly

  16. Patricia Atkinson says:

    Are you on Facebook? I’d really like to follow this more.

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