Economic considerations

A large enough area must be available for erecting the necessary pig and other buildings. It is also important to have land available where manure can be stacked in windrows to dry.

Before venturing into pig farming you should accurately determine the money needed to buy and erect fixed and movable assets.

Profit and loss account of a pig farmer

Essential fixed assets

  • Land
  • Room or shed where feed can be mixed and stored. Equipment can be stored in the same room
  • Housing for the farmer and his workers, if appropriate
  • Pig housing as set out in chapter on housing
  • Water facilities, including pump, pipes, taps, drinking nipples, reservoir and boreholes (if necessary)
  • Self-feeders
  • Feed scale
  • Security fence and entrance gate
  • Truck
  • Roads

Important movable assets

  • Truck for transporting pigs and feed
  • Ten or 20 pregnant gilts between the ages of 10 and 12 months
  • Two or three young boars between the ages of eight and 12 months
  • Additional equipment.

Initial feed requirements

It is important to note that pigs are only sold 11 months after the first pigs were introduced onto the farm. You must therefore have enough money to buy the necessary feed for the pigs until an income can be generated from selling them.

Young sows, bought when six weeks pregnant (8 to 12 months old), should produce two litters of 10 piglets each during their first 11 months on the farm. To feed the sow and the pigs she produces will require about 4,5 tons of feed for the 11 months until the first pigs are sold. Boars eat about 2 kg of feed per day and therefore 660 kg of feed is required to feed a boar during the first 11 months.

Production cost

Feed cost

Feed is always the biggest cost factor on a pig farm and amounts to between 60 and 80 % of the total production cost. Everything possible must therefore be done to keep feed cost as low as possible.

It is important to:

  • use well-balanced feed mixtures that are mixed for specific pig groups on the farm (for example creep feed for piglets and a growth mixture for growers)
  • prevent feed wastage
  • save on feed cost by mixing your own feed
  • buy feed ingredients at the lowest possible price
  • farm with good-quality pigs that have the ability to produce pig meat with a low fat content and can therefore utilise their feed efficiently.

A saving of as little as R10 on a ton of mixed feed will save R3 on the production cost of a 90-kg pig. The production cost can be further reduced by R30 if 10 % is saved on the quantity of feed fed to produce a 90-kg pig.

Other costs

These include:

  • Labour
  • Transport
  • Fuel
  • Veterinary costs
  • Medication
  • Washing detergents
  • Slaughter fees
  • Repairs and maintenance
  • Replacement animals

Feed requirements

It is important to know how much feed is required for your pigs. Feed is the biggest cost factor on the farm (60 to 80 %) and therefore the most expensive cost item. The total quantity of feed that must be fed to the different pig groups must be known if a profit is to be made.

On a well-run pig farm with good-quality pigs kept under good farming conditions the following guidelines can indicate to the farmer whether the performance of his pigs is adequate.


  • During the dry and pregnant period—2 kg/day for 285 days 570 kg
  • During lactation—8 kg/day for 56 days 448 kg


2 kg/day for 365 days 730 kg


About 80 g/day for 28 days (1,5-7 kg for 0-28 days of age) 2 kg


About 800 g/day for 42 days (7-25 kg for 28-70 days of age) 34 kg


About 1,6 kg/day for 40 days (25-50 kg for 70-110 days of age) 64 kg

Finisher pigs

About 2,6 kg/day for 50 days (50-90 g for 110-160 days of age) 130 kg

Feed required per pig marketed in one year (kg)

Suppositions: Each sow weans 20 marketable pigs per year
Each boar serves 15 sows per year
Sow (1 000 kg/20 piglets):


Boar (730 kg/20 piglets/15 sows/boar):












These figures are approximate estimates and can vary between 270 kg or less and above 300 kg. Feed costs are in excess of R1 000/t of feed or more than R1/kg. Every 1 kg of feed saved on a marketable pig therefore extends the profit margin for the farmer by R1. The importance of keeping the quantity of feed required to rear market pigs as low as possible cannot be overemphasised.

Cost structure changes on a daily basis. No attempt is therefore made to attach monetary values to the economic aspects discussed in this chapter. Readers interested in costs are advised to consult the South African Pork Producers' Organisation. (See the chapter on publications and further information.)