That is what a typical cut sheet looks like – what we give to the butcher each week. That one is for a whole pig, a roaster pig and four cutter pigs. The cutters are finisher hogs which will go to cuts and sausages for our weekly delivery route for standing orders from local stores and restaurants.
The cutter pigs are about six months of age and 225 lbs to 250 lbs so in weight. Our goal is 300 lbs as that is where the best economies come with the butchering and transport but generally we’re a bit lighter right now.
A typical 250 lb live weight pig x 72% yields a hanging weight of about 180 lbs. The “loss” is the guts and their contents which go to rendering at most slaughterhouses. At our soon to be completed facility we’ll compost this offal, returning the valuable nutrients to the soil and the cycle of life.
From the hanging weight of 180 lbs we get about 120 lbs of standard commercial cuts or a 67% yield off of hanging weight. The “loss” is oddments like the head, feet (trotters), tongue, heart, liver, kidney, tail, bones, etc. Almost all of that is good eating so ask for it and be an adventurous cook!
Live weight to commercial cuts is a yield of about 48%. When you buy at retail you’re only paying for that final half but the other half of the pig still must be supported, must still be paid for. Note that the butchers typically charge for cutting based on the hanging weight. All the more reason to ask for everything and eat heartily. This is why it is much more expensive to buy a few chops at retail than a whole pig at hanging weight or live weight.
A pig isn’t all bacon and pork chops so there is some balance that must be made and some choices must be made. If you were doing a single pig cut sheet then you would pick just one type of sausage and there would not be as many options on the loins since there would be less meat. Note that some cuts compete with each other. That is to say the same portion is used to make different commercial cuts.
Examples of Cuts that Compete:
Pork Chops vs Loin Roasts.
Bone-In Pork Chops vs Tenderloin (unless specially noted)
Boston Butt Shoulder vs Country Ribs.
Bacon & Spare Ribs vs Meaty Ribs.
Ham, Fresh Belly, Jowl & Bacon vs Sausage.
Fresh Belly vs Bacon.
Ham vs Ham Cubes vs Ham Steaks vs Ground.
That gives you some ideas of what to ask for when working with the butcher. Also check out our order form on the literature page which gives you some other ideas for cut names and specifications you might make. Another good article on this is What is a Half Pig Share.
You can specify all the custom cuts if you like but don’t be overwhelmed. Alternatively, simply tell the butcher your family size and ask for “Standard Cuts” and they will know what to do to give you a set of cuts that make good use of your pig. No need to be complicated.
Which ever you do, if you want feed, back fat, organs, head and other oddments be sure to ask for them or they may get thrown in the compost or rendering. Waste not want not. Enjoy all the bounty!
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†Seriously famous. It has appeared on BBC and lots of other places and has been the basis of even a painting. I don’t mind people using my cut chart unaltered as long as they provide a clickable link back to https://SugarMtnFarm.com and give me credit. Enjoy.