How much meat can I expect my hogs to yield?

Finishing (level of fatness of the animal) will impact meat yields, as will breed, size of the animal, and cutting instructions. A common problem processors report is that producers believe they did not get all their meat back after processing. Often, this is because producers do not understand the losses due to transport and slaughter and then cutting and wrapping. As an example, the hypothetical 250-pound hog from the NC Choices Pastured Pork Breaking Down the Cost illustration will yield a 180-pound carcass, which will result in 123 pounds of cut and wrapped meat available for sale.

Requesting more boneless cuts will reduce the pounds of pork received. For rough figuring, you can estimate the carcass will be about 70% of the live weight. For boneless cuts, 65 to 70% of the carcass weight will be returned as meat (Raines, no date). Again, breed and cutting instructions impact yields.

The University of Kentucky conducted an interesting study in which eight different heritage breeds were raised to finish weight and then processed and the primal cuts weighed. The study reports offer great information, if you are raising one of those breeds, to help you understand how many pounds of each cut you are likely to get. This helps in figuring out pricing and in projecting pounds of salable meat. You can see photos and read the results here.

The new ATTRA publication Hogs: Pastured or Forested Production will serve as a great resource in learning more. In addition, check out the Livestock and Pasture: Hogs section of the ATTRA website, where you’ll find more useful resources.

Raines, Christopher. No date. The butcher kept your meat? The Pennsylvania State University.