Carcass Yield

Deboning with my third hand…

Kinsley asked on What is a Half Pig Share:
If a pigs live weight is 800 lb is there a way to estimate the hanging weight?

Yes. Based on a lot thousands of pigs over the past 13 years I find that yield with scald and scrape on our pigs I get the following with our market size pigs in the 250 to 350 lb range:

Hanging Weight = 72% Live Weight

The way the meat was cut at the butcher for years we got a yield from there of:

Commercial Cuts = 67% Hanging Weight


Commercial Cuts = 48% Live Weight

However! There is a lot of good meat between the hanging weight (HW) and the commercial cuts weights (CW). These we call the oddments. They don’t sell well in the stores but they’re good eating. This is mostly what our farm family eats. Shoemaker’s children and all that.

This means that $2.88/lb based on Live Weight (LW) is about $4.00/lb based on hanging Weight (HW) for comparison between the two common pricing methods. Live weight is generally used at auctions while hanging weight is generally used when buying carcasses from a farmer or butcher.

Wholesale prices are based on Commercial Cuts Weight (CW) includes the cost of the processing and the losses in the cutting resulting in about $6/lb. If you’re buying a whole pig this is about the price per pound. Buying the whole pig gives you the lowest price per pig plus all the oddments. See the order form on the Literature Page for details.

Retail pricing is again a little higher to give the store the profit margin they need to maintain the inventory, coolers, rent, taxes, pay employees, etc so figure about $8 to $9 per pound for the same cuts at the grocery store. (Keep in mind that all of these are 2016 prices so adjust for inflation if you’re reading this article at some point in the future.)

One of the interesting things with doing the cutting ourselves in our own on-farm butcher shop is I’ve improved the yield to commercial cuts by another 7% to 14% yielding because I cut exactly to our specifications gaining just a little more yield. This now gives:

Commercial Cuts = 77% Hanging Weight


Commercial Cuts = 55% Live Weight

This extra margin is one of the little things that helps to pay for the construction of the butcher shop at Sugar Mountain Farm.

An 800 lb pig may have a slightly worse yield if it is fatty and possibly a slightly better yield for well muscled leaned boars. There is also variation with the breeds to a small degree.

It’s important to know the conversion as it takes care of the gut contents (offal) which is reflected in how the hogs are priced. Auctions will do live weight. Butchers hanging weight. In general – exceptions are of course. 

It is also important to know the method of slaughter: scald & scrape vs skinning as they have different yields. With scald and scrape you keep the skin which protects the meat, gives more available fat and the skin is edible – ask for it on roasts.

Also see: What Good is a Pig and What is a Half Pig Share.

The photo at the top shows me deboning a pig using all three of my hands. I’m using the bottom edge of my ribs to grip the carcass rib cage as I slice the ribs and spine out of the side of pork leaving the shoulder, side pork, loin and sirloin all intact. I debone most of the pork I cut as it goes to stores that mostly prefer bone-out cuts.

Outdoors: 60°F/53°F Partially Sunny
Tiny Cottage: 60°F/57°F

Daily Spark: Peter Peter pumpking eater had a house and couldn’t heater her. So he added more thermal mass and let physics do the job with ease.

About Walter Jeffries

Tinker, Tailor...
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7 Responses to Carcass Yield

  1. Pitt 2500 says:

    Very interesting on your exact percentages!
    I’ve oftern wondered.
    As a hunter I’ve always guestimated that after field dressing I had about 60% live weight and then after deboning and butchering I ended up with about 60 % of dressed weight.
    More for large animals and less for smaller.

  2. Bill says:

    Helpful info. Thanks for sharing.
    I laughed at your reference to your family eating the meat that doesn’t sell well. We do that too. I eat a lot of neck bones for example. But I’m not complaining. They’re delicious. Folks don’t know what they’re missing.

  3. Brian says:

    is there an industry standard for what is included in hanging weight? Is it everything but the guts? or is the head sometimes excluded from hanging weight?

    • There isn’t any standard because it varies with the processing method and that causes some confusion. It is always guts out but after that there are variations. The way our pigs are slaughtered is termed scald & scrape which keeps the skin, head, ears, tongue, tail, trotters (feet) and more fat on the carcass. This is the best option since the skin protects the meat giving better quality and better food safety. The scald process is actually a critical control point in killing off bacteria. On the other hand, skinning loses all of the above items reducing yield. Best to ask your butcher what they do.

  4. Traye says:

    Crazy, I got up this morning intending to search your site for this information. Brand new post right there, thank you Walt.

  5. Tim says:

    After the first percentages , “However! There is a lot of good meet ….” I assume that should be meat rather than meet.

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