Pork Production: Farrow to Finish Process

Mar 09, 2017

On average Americans eat around 49 lbs. of pork per person each year. How does all that product end up on your plate? Unlike the beef industry, pork production is very fast paced and always changing rapidly. On average, it takes around six months for a hog to reach market weight of 280 lbs.

It all begins at the farrowing stage. Farrowing is the term used to describe a female hog giving birth. Females will normally have anywhere from 11 to 13 pigs per litter. With a sow being able to farrow close to three times a year, one sow can have around 36 piglets in one year. When the sows are ready to farrow, they are moved to a specific barn on the farm. Sows will be housed in this barn for three weeks after this time the piglets will be weaned and placed in a nursery.

By the time the pigs are moved to the nursery barn they weigh about 14 lbs. The pigs will stay here for about six to eight weeks or until the pig weighs upwards of 50 lbs. During this stage the piglets are fed a corn and soybean meal diet eating as much as 4 lbs a day. The main purpose of this stage in production is to allow the pigs to become fully weaned and prepares them for the final stage of pork production, finishing.

At the last stage of production, the pigs will spend around 16 weeks in a finishing barn, reaching a final weight of 280 lbs. Here they are fed 6 to 10 lbs of feed per day. Their ration contains corn and soybean meal as well as vitamins and minerals which ensures that the pig receives proper nutrients to assure their health and growth. After the pigs have reached 280lbs. they are sent to a packing plant to be harvested.

Pork produced in the US is distributed across the world, with a large portion of pork being exported to Japan, Mexico, Canada, and China. In 2015 the US exported 4.7 billion pounds of pork and pork variety meat, valued at $5.58 billion.




Photo Courtesy of Texas A&M University 

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