Marketing your hogs!
July 2, 2013 at 3:00 pm #16733
I get many questions from members and prospective members of how to market the hogs. Some will buy a breeding pair or trio and get them big enough to breed and then farrow. The trouble then is “how do I sell my hogs”. Questions I have heard are, “I thought I would be able to sell them all as soon as they are weaned but people in my area don’t want to pay for a registered hog.” or “How do I sell them once they are not small enough to fit in a dog carrier?” or “How do you advertise for your hogs?”. None of these are silly questions and I would never poke fun at any question at all, the only silly question is the one NOT asked. My issue is that I do not quite know the answer. My region is different than most. I am in the second poorest county in Ohio AND there are so many commercial hog farms around that people often shy away from my feeder pig price of $125 (negotiable if more than one is purchased) when they can get a “pink” pig for 20 bucks down the road.
My question to our members is: What region are you in? How are YOU advertising for your hog sales? Do you sell only breeders or do you also cull and sell feeders. As for our President, she does a fantastic job (and tiresome one) of going to Farmers’ Markets and selling to restaurants. She also hosts or participates in many dinners where chefs come in and use the hog snout to tail. I have enjoyed reading about the dinners and quite honestly, I am very envious and hope to be able to do the same some day. Our new Vice President markets his to fine restaurants in Washington DC, New York City, Baltimore as well as a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture). He is constantly on the go and constantly talking to chefs and perfecting his pork product.
My point is that it takes a lot of time and energy to market the hogs, the same as if it were any other product. I sell many feeder hogs to people in my area who want to have the pasture based pork for their own consumption. They purchase a couple to raise up on their own pasture and then butcher them. I get asked from people in my area where to butcher their hogs. We have a few local ones but I have not been satisfied with the end product. A butcher who is unfamiliar with pork and especially heritage pork, can ruin all the hard labor we have put into our pigs in a matter of seconds. I recommend trying product from the butcher before sending in your own hogs. It may take a few hogs and a few butchers to get one who will give your hogs the finish they deserve. It also may be the butcher who is an hour away that is worth the drive for the finished product. In my case, I have heard great things about two butchers that are more than an hour away. In the next few weeks, I will be testing them out to see if they are a fit for us. We have many members who butcher and cure their own hogs.
Can you help me answer the questions of our members, new and old? What is YOUR experience?July 2, 2013 at 3:57 pm #18430
Via Facebook Response:
Kelley Heising Escobedo : I plan to speak to this topic more in an upcoming newsletter, but for starters lets address the basic question. How / who do I market my pigs. Marketing has several aspects to it. The biggest mistake I see new breeders make is the assumption that once piglets hit the ground they sell themselves. It just is not true any more than opening any other business guarantees customers. If you have what people want and you offer it at a price they want to pay, they will purchase. So if you are not putting any efforts into marketing your animals, how can you expect them to sell themselves? Many small farms purchase one or two sows and maybe create a small web site and that is all they do to get their names out. You have to invest in your business. Give away samples to local chefs if you plan to sell pork. Find out if there are opportunities to enter local events with your information like gardening days or local farmers markets. Advertise in your local paper. Host small gatherings at your farm where you show off your hogs and give out taste samples of your product. If you are just selling piglets, make the event based around local farmers. Find out who is selling grass fed beef or other pastured animals and who their market base is. Offer information about why your product / piglets are better than the “little pink pigs” at the auction barns. And most important…NEVER UNDERSELL YOUR PRODUCT. If you devalue your product, how can you expect to get the price you want next time? Sales are one thing, but just offering piglets on craigslist for next to nothing is not helping anyone. If the people to whom you are marketing are not buying at the price you want, you are marketing to the wrong people.July 2, 2013 at 5:59 pm #18431
Via Facebook Response:
Ralph Place: Selling piglets is just like selling anything else. You have to sell to the demographic that wants what you have, you have to build relationships, and you have to have a “better mouse trap”.
We have sold a lot of our piglets in Craigslist, and about half via word of mouth.
I am honest, my pigs are not for everyone. If they are raising a feeder in a pen and slopping it with corn, chances are they don’t know, or care, in the difference in my LBH and a “pink” pig.
I have raised several breeds of pigs and explain to everyone I come in contact with, the differences in other breeds and my LBH. If you want to sell a registered animal, you need to educate yourself on the breed, breed for conformance and be a responsible breeder, and actively educate and promote your breed.
I feel when you actually do all three, that is when you get top dollar for your animal.
Just like any trade or craft. If you don’t put effort in to it or do shotty work, then that will be people’s perception.
I do not deal with low ballers. I would rather give my pork to a food bank or someone I know needs it, than sell it for auction prices. Just my $.02 worth 😉July 3, 2013 at 1:46 am #18432
Here at Bowers Farm, we are finding a small market for our non-GMO and soy-free pork through Farmer’s Markets. Currently we do three Markets a week. Many people come up to us and LOVE what we are doing with the non-GMO and soy free aspect, others haven’t a clue. Trying to educate and help people eat healthy food can be a bit tedious at times, but if we can get at least one person to try the pork, then it is worth it. Our prices are reasonable at the moment, but I think with the next processing we are going to have to go up in price. Non-GMO and Soy free feed isn’t cheap; we mix our own as well. Many people can’t afford to eat this wonderful pork, so we are kind of trying to ‘introduce’ it so we can build a customer base. Hopefully this customer base will help us through the winter, when there are no Farmer’s Markets. We have found that restaurants usually only care about the no vaccines, antibiotics and hormones, with little regards to GMOs and soy. And they are usually not willing to pay our price. We have been getting inquiries for breeder pairs through the LBH website and thanks for this!! Hopefully we can accomodate these requests in a few months.