We’re still crunching numbers to put together the final breakdown post, but I thought I’d share a few observations in no particular order. All numbers are based on hanging weight (our butcher leaves the head on compared to the normal “hanging weight” definition).
- Our pigs yielded significantly more meat from their hanging weight than the half-pig we bought last year. For the same cut list, our pigs were 80% meat as compared to 65% meat last year.
- We raised extremely lean pigs. Our pigs were only about 2% fat. The pig we bought last time was 10% fat. (I also suspect we were shorted on our returned fat this year. The whole small pig yielded only 1 lb of fat. That seems anomalous.)
- Our pigs were 8% bacon (down from 11% last year). Leaner pigs yield less bacon. The small pig was 7% bacon, and the large pig (the fatter one) was 9% bacon. I’ve had people ask me if you could just turn the whole pig into bacon. Sadly no. Bacon only comes from curing specific cuts of meat. In the U.S., most bacon comes from pork belly, although in many countries it is common to cure loins, fatback, shoulders, jowls, hocks, and other cuts as bacon. One advantage of home butchering would be that you could cure a lot more bacon from less common cuts.
- We love pepper bacon. We ordered pepper bacon. We repeated it several times. We got maple cured bacon.
- If you have pork chops cut from the carcass then you won’t get tenderloin or baby back ribs. This surprised me initially, but it makes sense when you think about it: each pork chop is effectively a section of spine and rib and a slice of the tenderloin / loin roast.
- We asked for the heart and liver back. Not sure what we are going to cook with these yet. I may have to trick Robin into eating them.
- We asked for the bones back. The whole small pig (from which we did not have pork chops cut) yielded 8.5 lbs of bones. I plan to make Tonkotsu Ramen soup with them. I wish I’d saved the trotters during butchering.
- We sold half of the large pig to a relative at cost, which worked out to $1.21/lb hanging weight (plus butcher costs). The cheapest I’ve seen it on Craigslist is $1.65/lb, so I think we did fairly well.
- One and a half pigs (270 lbs of meat) completely filled our 9 cubic foot chest freezer.