Culling our pigs

Do you keep livestock? Having any problems? Want to talk about it, whether it be sheep, goats, chickens, pigs, bees or llamas, here is your place to discuss.
User avatar
Stonehead
A selfsufficientish Regular
A selfsufficientish Regular
Posts: 2432
Joined: Wed Apr 12, 2006 2:31 pm
Location: Scotland
Contact:

Culling our pigs

Post: #265409 Stonehead
Wed Aug 15, 2012 8:23 am

We’ve decided to cull our herd of Berkshire pigs, which I’ve mentioned on here a few times over the years. While we have more potential customers than ever, the overwhelming majority now expect prices well below the cost of the production and that’s not sustainable. On top of that, many people expect us to be like a supermarket with pigs or pork available off the shelf, at the time and place they set. People can’t accept that if we have four to six sows, then we can’t possibly have a suitable number of weaners or a suitable amount of pork ready for them at the moment they decide to walk in off the street and demand them.

We’re not sure what we’ll do, except that we’ll finish our last three porks and then I’ll have a few months taking it “easy”. There will still be work to do on the croft but as I haven’t had a holiday since mid-2000 a couple of months of light work will definitely feel like a holiday. It will also give us time to work out what to do from next spring.
Image

User avatar
eco-mick
Barbara Good
Barbara Good
Posts: 136
Joined: Thu Feb 25, 2010 6:38 am
Location: Lincolnshire

Re: Culling our pigs

Post: #265415 eco-mick
Wed Aug 15, 2012 11:53 am

All this 24/7 culture is what doing this..

I would gladly wait months for excellent tasting pork to be honest than that bland tasteless junk wrapped in bag at the supers.

I think those who want want want like that don't understand the time/money than goes into producing fantastic products. If it was me I would be telling them good things comes to those who wait (or in other mind the two words with the letters starting F and O ;) )

Good Luck Stonehead.

grahamhobbs
A selfsufficientish Regular
A selfsufficientish Regular
Posts: 1212
Joined: Mon Aug 10, 2009 4:39 pm
Location: London

Re: Culling our pigs

Post: #265416 grahamhobbs
Wed Aug 15, 2012 12:19 pm

We ordered our pig from a local farmer in France several months in advance, the pig was to be suitably fattened up, only to find on the arranged date for killing that she had her first period. We were told that you couldn't kill her at this time (is this correct or just a superstition?) so we had to wait a couple of more weeks. I'd prefer this, to know how the animal was raised, rather than go to a factory reared pig. So it is a shame that more people don't respect this. We butchered the animal and made the locally traditional rillette, rillions, pate and sausages. As these are all ways of keeping the meat, have you considered adding value this way?

User avatar
Stonehead
A selfsufficientish Regular
A selfsufficientish Regular
Posts: 2432
Joined: Wed Apr 12, 2006 2:31 pm
Location: Scotland
Contact:

Re: Culling our pigs

Post: #265417 Stonehead
Wed Aug 15, 2012 12:28 pm

grahamhobbs wrote:We ordered our pig from a local farmer in France several months in advance, the pig was to be suitably fattened up, only to find on the arranged date for killing that she had her first period. We were told that you couldn't kill her at this time (is this correct or just a superstition?) so we had to wait a couple of more weeks. I'd prefer this, to know how the animal was raised, rather than go to a factory reared pig. So it is a shame that more people don't respect this. We butchered the animal and made the locally traditional rillette, rillions, pate and sausages. As these are all ways of keeping the meat, have you considered adding value this way?

Yes, we have added value and the like. We’ve worked hard at this for years and not just sat back waiting for people to tell us we should try something different, with “added value” and a more “unique niche”. The extra processing involved in “adding value" adds costs that most potential customers are not prepared to pay. We have a small band of loyal customers and turn up a few new ones now and again, but most people say they want small-scale, local, free-range and traditional breeds while demanding that it costs less than the cheap supermarket lines.
Last edited by Stonehead on Wed Aug 15, 2012 2:06 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Image

User avatar
bonniethomas06
A selfsufficientish Regular
A selfsufficientish Regular
Posts: 1245
Joined: Wed Oct 17, 2007 10:24 am
Location: Wiltshire, UK

Re: Culling our pigs

Post: #265421 bonniethomas06
Wed Aug 15, 2012 1:47 pm

Oh stoney, I am sorrry to hear that, I know how hard you have worked and it must be a wrench. But I truly believe every cloud has a silver lining - you deserve a bit a rest and hopefully this will give you the time to devote to something new and equally or more rewarding. Shame on the British public!
"A pretty face is fine, but what a farmer needs is a woman who can carry a pig under each arm"

My blog...

http://www.theparttimesmallholder.blogspot.com

User avatar
Stonehead
A selfsufficientish Regular
A selfsufficientish Regular
Posts: 2432
Joined: Wed Apr 12, 2006 2:31 pm
Location: Scotland
Contact:

Re: Culling our pigs

Post: #265422 Stonehead
Wed Aug 15, 2012 2:07 pm

bonniethomas06 wrote:you deserve a bit a rest and hopefully this will give you the time to devote to something new and equally or more rewarding.


Definitely. I took the boys on a six-mile trek over forestry trails today, including some steep hills. We did it in 61 minutes, 26 seconds. They were on mountain bikes. I ran. Is that restful enough? :mrgreen:
Image

Claripup
Tom Good
Tom Good
Posts: 77
Joined: Thu Apr 09, 2009 3:49 pm
Location: Finedon - UK

Re: Culling our pigs

Post: #265426 Claripup
Wed Aug 15, 2012 5:21 pm

I am sorry, the majority of the population seem to want everything cheap and fast... and flavourless! It frustrates me because I love real food (you know that stuff with actual flavour like it was when gran was young) but find it damn near impossible to get... yes cost is always going to be a factor, but there are still some of us out here who are willing to pay more for good, tasty food... so long as you're not charging River Cottage prices that is :tongue:

hope you are enjoying your "rest" although it sounds more like torture than rest to me :flower:

User avatar
Stonehead
A selfsufficientish Regular
A selfsufficientish Regular
Posts: 2432
Joined: Wed Apr 12, 2006 2:31 pm
Location: Scotland
Contact:

Re: Culling our pigs

Post: #265428 Stonehead
Wed Aug 15, 2012 6:41 pm

Claripup wrote:I am sorry, the majority of the population seem to want everything cheap and fast... and flavourless! It frustrates me because I love real food (you know that stuff with actual flavour like it was when gran was young) but find it damn near impossible to get... yes cost is always going to be a factor, but there are still some of us out here who are willing to pay more for good, tasty food... so long as you're not charging River Cottage prices that is :tongue:

hope you are enjoying your "rest" although it sounds more like torture than rest to me :flower:


The people who contact us say they want traditionally produced pork, from rare breeds, from small local producers, from free-range herds. They say they want real flavour and no watery muck. We take them through what we do, showing that we produce what they say they want and setting out the reasons why it costs more to do so (essentially, we’re far less efficient).

What then happens is that, without blinking, they turn around and demand the pork at a price well below cost and often below the cost of supermarket value pork. They lecture us about how the market decides the price, how we should be more efficient, how we should give them what they want when they want, and how they as customers are kings while we should be grateful for their patronage and a few of their flung pennies.

It’s the same with weaners, poultry, eggs and vegetables. We did vegetables for a while but people wanted fruit and veg that was out of season in Scotland or, in quite a few cases, doesn’t grow in Scotland. They pointed out that several other “local” box schemes offered sugar snap peas, green beans, passionfruit, aubergines, avocadoes, peppers, courgettes and more during the Scottish winter. And questioned our “customer focus” in not giving them what they wanted.

With eggs, there was (and is) strong demand for organic, free-range eggs. But only if it was at the cost of battery eggs. Even now, with battery egg production banned, people still expect ultra cheap prices. When we changed from organic to standard feeds to keep the costs down, customers protested because we weren’t organic anymore but wouldn’t pay a price that reflected the extra costs of being organic.

I’ve dealt with customers in previous jobs, but then I was always able to switch off and go home at the end of the day. When the customers contact you, even appear on your door, at all hours of the day and night, with unrealistic and often unreasonable demands, it starts to get wearing after a few years. And when they won’t pay enough to cover the cost of production, indulge in harangues and lectures about how we should give them, the customer, what they want, and then resort to tirades of abuse when they don’t get it, well, it’s time to quit.
Image

User avatar
Thomzo
A selfsufficientish Regular
A selfsufficientish Regular
Posts: 4274
Joined: Thu Feb 01, 2007 1:42 pm
Location: Swindon, South West England

Re: Culling our pigs

Post: #265431 Thomzo
Wed Aug 15, 2012 7:57 pm

Stoney, I'm so sorry. I know how hard you've worked at this and it's shocking that even you can't make it work. Good luck with the new venture whatever that ends up being.

Zoe
Think globally, shop locally
Check out my blog at http://designedbyzoe.blogspot.com/
http://www.thomzo.co.uk

Claripup
Tom Good
Tom Good
Posts: 77
Joined: Thu Apr 09, 2009 3:49 pm
Location: Finedon - UK

Re: Culling our pigs

Post: #265434 Claripup
Wed Aug 15, 2012 8:09 pm

it's such a shame coz people like that are worse (IMO) than T***os for shutting down small local farms. I am sorry you had to put up with them.

I think people are so focused on "I want" now that the don't see all the bits they are missing out on coz it doesn't tick their box of wants.

I remember when winter dinners were to be dreaded coz of the sprouts, and cherries were only had for about 6 weeks in the summer and certainly as a child I appreciated the soft fruits a lot more as they were all only around for such a short time. We are all far too used to getting what we want, when we want and for a little money as possible now... Spoilt child syndrome maybe?

Of course what I want is a good butcher who stocks english meat when possible, a good greengrocer who buys locally and a local baker would be nice too. And for them not to charge the earth! Now don't get me wrong, I am happy to pay more but, certainly around here they seem to charge silly money for the "keeping up with the Jones's" factor... feel free to correct me as i have no idea of the costs involved, but when i can buy "free range" eggs in the supermarket for less than £2 I think charging over £4 for the same quantity because they come from a farm shop is a ott. Same problem with chickens, my butcher: £8-11 (free range and local), farm shop £28.50 and it was a small (ie would feed 3, just, as a roast) although I should say this was in Windsor so that may have also affected the price.

Sorry I seem to have ranted a little... but I am curious, is the huge price difference justified by the costs or is it just cause round here there are some people who will pay it?

Anyway I'm sorry you had to deal with those idiots (and this idiot cause i think i maybe wrong now i've started to really think about it)

And i do look forward to finding out what you will be doing next spring. :-)

User avatar
diggernotdreamer
Site Admin
Site Admin
Posts: 1769
Joined: Sat Jun 30, 2012 10:23 pm
Location: North West Ireland

Re: Culling our pigs

Post: #265438 diggernotdreamer
Wed Aug 15, 2012 10:40 pm

"but when i can buy "free range" eggs in the supermarket for less than £2 I think charging over £4 for the same quantity because they come from a farm shop is a ott. Same problem with chickens, my butcher: £8-11 (free range and local), farm shop £28.50 and it was a small (ie would feed 3, just, as a roast) although I should say this was in Windsor so that may have also affected the price."

Because the supermarket has probably screwed the producer down on price, down to the bone, because they deal in pennies of profit, small markup, large turnover, because they do not have to pay for goods they receive for three months so the producers again are having to finance the big supermarkets, this is how they make their money. Windsor Farm Shop sells a lot of organic produce, that chicken may have been organic which is different to free range. Organic feed is a lot more expensive than conventional feed, the costs involved with being certified are quite steep, a lot more husbandry goes into producing that chicken, pastures have to be rotated and smaller numbers are kept, so costs are higher. There is free range and then there is proper free range, some free range birds are kept in their thousands and the access to outside is limited so many never go out. A lot of hard work goes into doing things properly, most farmers and producers work very long hours, I know people who probably earn about 3 quid an hour if you worked it out on a hourly rate, animals usually calve or lamb or whatever in the middle of the night, in the summer you have to work from light to dark in order to keep up with all the work demands, out in all weathers. What a shame that supermarkets have caused people to expect cheap food and that there is now such a disconnection between food and how it is produced.

User avatar
Stonehead
A selfsufficientish Regular
A selfsufficientish Regular
Posts: 2432
Joined: Wed Apr 12, 2006 2:31 pm
Location: Scotland
Contact:

Re: Culling our pigs

Post: #265440 Stonehead
Thu Aug 16, 2012 8:13 am

One of our cockerels killed at 30 weeks will have eaten £7.60 in feed by that point. Then there are the costs of housing, fencing, feed troughs, medications, buckets, steel feed bins (the inspectors who check the feeding regime are very keen on steel bins), farm insurance, building maintenance and so on. The costs are spread over several years and shared between the birds/eggs, but they add up. Going organic adds a lot to the cost. Using traditional or rare breeds adds a lot to the cost as they take longer to grow to size, lay less eggs and use feed less efficiently.

I haven’t done a full costing on chickens or eggs for a while as we stopped selling them, but it would be a couple of pounds more expensive than your butcher. That doesn’t necessarily make the farm shop chicken “over the top”: it depends on their overheads, especially if they’re employing a number of people and what sort of debt they’re servicing as a result of building/converting a shop. (Our previous butcher was able to keep his prices down because he’d been in his shop for 45 years and owned it outright for more than 20. He told me that he wouldn’t be able to open a butcher’s shop if he was starting out today because of the costs.)

As for a chicken feeding three, it depends on how you use it. Our birds are Scots Greys, which aren't the biggest of chickens, but a cockerel feeds three of us for days. If I roast it, that’s the wings and legs for the first night’s meals. The breasts are sliced for sandwiches for the next couple of days. The thighs are diced and might go into a curry for another two evening meals. The carcass goes into a pot with vegetables and herbs and is simmered for a few hours to make stock that’s used to make soup for another two or three meals. Used like that, one chicken feeds three for seven or eight meals.

On the other hand, I’ve walked through our nearby village on bin day, with the lids bulging open, and seen a roast chicken with the breast meat cut away and the remainder discarded. And that wasn’t an isolated incident: I’m always amazed to see how full people’s bins are and how much useable food is perched amidst the bulging contents. It’s sickening to hear people complain about the cost of food and then see how much they waste.
Image

User avatar
boboff
A selfsufficientish Regular
A selfsufficientish Regular
Posts: 1809
Joined: Mon Jun 08, 2009 9:29 am
Location: Gunnislake,Cornwall

Re: Culling our pigs

Post: #265441 boboff
Thu Aug 16, 2012 8:28 am

In allot of ways those customers challenges of you needing to give them what they want when they want it, are acceptable, but, and this is the rub, you have undertaken the only option then available, that is stop producing, which is just as acceptable!

People are stupid, but they are in charge of their money, and think buying cheap and then wasting half the food is the easy and lazy way to go.

As you have said, it is probably for the best that you have decided you reduce the supply to the market.

The fact that you totally understand the input costs into your product is brilliant, and probably something that others "playing" with rearing pigs locally don't. Time will sort these hobbyists out, and you'll come up with a route to market that works for you, and in the mean time you can enjoy some lighter work.

Ok so Grandma thats how you extract the content of eggs....... Best of luck mate with whatever plans you make for the Spring.
Millymollymandy wrote:Bloody smilies, always being used. I hate them and they should be banned.
No I won't use a smiley because I've decided to turn into Boboff, as he's turned all nice all of a sudden. Grumble grumble.

http://boboffs.blogspot.co.uk/

User avatar
Green Aura
Site Admin
Site Admin
Posts: 8328
Joined: Thu Feb 07, 2008 8:16 pm
latitude: 58.569279
longitude: -4.762620
Location: North West Highlands

Re: Culling our pigs

Post: #265442 Green Aura
Thu Aug 16, 2012 8:34 am

I agree with everything you say Digger.

I think, though, that some of the factors involved should be questioned. I've bought organic produce, and grow organically, for years but (thanks mainly to OJ :lol: ) I'm questioning the validity of Soil Association certification nowadays - it seems to have become a self-serving organisation. The argument always used to be that growing organically was much cheaper. That's certainly not the case.

Then there are all the DEFRA regulations about what you can feed livestock on - thanks of course to the profiteering a**eholes who caused the BSE debacle. But a truly free range chicken eating grubs etc should need much less "feed" than its incarcerated counterparts. Shouldn't it?

Finally, I'd be interested to see a breakdown of their costs - Stoney kindly provides some on his blog. I know living in Windsor must cost a lot more than rural Aberdeenshire but one chicken for about half the price he was asking for a weaner?

Maybe I'm being unfair, raising pigs isn't Stoney's sole source of income. I suppose his prices would be have to be higher if it were. And selling "over the farm gate" incurs much fewer overheads than running a shop. But £30 for a small chicken - even with my notorious chicken-stretching skills I'd not be able to justify paying that. And I'm guessing for many families that would be damn near their entire source of protein for a week at those prices. It'd get pretty boring!

Even around Windsor there can't be enough people who can afford (or would be willing) to pay that sort of price on a regular basis (or who would want to eat chicken regularly enough) to keep such a business going. Although I'm presumably wrong about that.

I wonder what the price of their pork is :roll:
Maggie

Never doubt that you can change history. You already have. Marge Piercy

Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage. Anais Nin

User avatar
Stonehead
A selfsufficientish Regular
A selfsufficientish Regular
Posts: 2432
Joined: Wed Apr 12, 2006 2:31 pm
Location: Scotland
Contact:

Re: Culling our pigs

Post: #265446 Stonehead
Thu Aug 16, 2012 10:34 am

[quote="Green Aura"Maybe I'm being unfair, raising pigs isn't Stoney's sole source of income. I suppose his prices would be have to be higher if it were. [/quote]

Actually, pigs and pork were the sole source of income that provided enough to feed us, cover their running costs and generate enough to put back into other areas of the croft. The chickens provide some income but only enough to cover their costs. The vegetables, fruit and “value added” stuff provided some income but not enough to cover their costs, which is why we stopped doing them. And now that the pigs aren’t covering their costs, we’re not doing them. At the moment, I have no other source of income. I take the “pay” for my labour as pork, chicken, eggs, vegetables, fruit, cider, jam, preservers and the like. Any cash generated from the croft goes to bay the farm insurance, buy gates and fencing materials, buy feed, buy seed, buy tools and so on. I don’t have other sources of income.

Yes, the OH has an off-croft job but that’s not to provide cash to subsidise the croft. It’s there to pay for all the household bills that we’d have wherever we lived. The croft has to pay for itself and it is my sole source of income. The pigs may not be, the croft is.
Image


Return to “Livestock”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Bing [Bot] and 5 guests