How much capital is needed to raise 150 hogs sustainably?

To raise hogs using the sustainable system we have outlined in this blog will require an investment of capital.  We are leveraging a Holistic Management philosophy to run this farm business, so these Holistic practices guide our decisions.  To start, expenses are organized into Wealth Generating, Inescapable, and Maintenance. 

Wealth Generating  – Expenses that produce profit this year.   
Inescapable - Must be paid regardless (tractor payments, taxes).   
Maintenance - Essential to the business, but do not produce profit this year.   

Our current documented plan (documented prior to developing the year round feeding system)  outlines a cost of  $170,000 to run our Meat CSA for 225 customers.  This cost includes a  budget of $15,000 for feeding the hogs for our CSA each year via purchased and planted feeds.  We will evaluate this budget against our new Sustainable Hog Feeding plan that utilizes the fruits and greens of 40 acres to feed the hogs. 

The budget will only include the Cost to produce the crops that is not included in the Inescapable and Maintenance budget sections.  For example, the cost of the tractor, truck, building, tools, taxes, etc. are not included.

So, let’s get started.  We’ll plan fuel costs in total since we have already determined that we will run the tractor for about 255 hours per year and our tractor uses a little less than a gallon per hour.  At $3 gallon, this will cost us about $750.

For the difference between the summer 40 acres and winter 24 acres, we will plant 16 acres of either crimson clover or sub clover.  These crops do not need nitrogen, but do need organic P and K so we will use about $150/acre for soil amendments.  Additionally, the 2010 costs for the seed are $70/50lb bag of crimson or $200/50lb bag of sub.  The clovers are planted at 20lb per acre, so the crimson will cost $28/acre for seed and the sub will cost $80/acre.  The Clover planting of 16 acres total will cost $864 in seed and $2400 in fertilizer for a Total Cost for the 16 Acres of Clovers of $3264.

For the Wealth Generating expenses related to raising the Oats, $40 Acre will purchase two 50lb bags of seed and another $100 acre of organic fertilizer will result in a cost of $1120 for the 8 acres of Oats.

For the four acres of forage canola, we will seed 6 pounds per acre, and the seed costs about $3/lb.  We will spend $96 on seed and another $800 on organic fertilizers for a total cost of $896 for the four acres of Canola

For the 12 Acres of AWPs, we will seed 60lbs/acre or 720 lbs of seed at $1/lb.  We will also use $100/acre of organic soil amendments ($1800) for a total cost of $1920 for the 12 acres of AWPs.

Six acres of Pearl Millet at $1/lb and 15 lbs/acre will total $90 in seed cost for the Pearl Millet.  We will also input $200/acre of organic soil amendments for a total cost of $1290 for the 6 acres of Pearl Millet.

18 Acres of ICPs at $1/lb and 70lbs/acre will total $1260 in seed cost for the ICPs.  We will also input $100/acre for amendments for a total cost of $3060 for the 18 acres of ICPs.

Now, for Wealth Generating expenses related to raising 13 acres of corn, we will only include seed and fertilizer cost.  In the future we will investigate irrigation to determine if irrigating our crop will reduce cost.  Seed costs as of 2010 are $53/acre, and I’m going to estimate fertilizer costs at $200/acre for organic amendments.  This results in a total cost of $3289 for the 13 acres of Corn.  At a 3360/acre yield (60 bushels/acre) this works out to 43,680 lbs of corn.  That’s a cost of about $4.21/bushel for organic corn.

Total cost of Seed, Fertilizer, and Fuel for the 40 acres of plantings will be $15,589.  This also doesn’t take into account that we will have to purchase a grain drill and cultivator.  Definitely more than our budget of $15,000 for purchasing feed, but worthwhile for several reasons.  This expense will ensure our customers receive a pork product that is certified organic.  Our customer will be able to see the feed given to the hogs, and just as important, the hogs will be able to see the feed given to them as it grows.

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