Taping a Pig

So we’ve covered pigs eating, pigs wallowing in mud and pigs sitting in a tub.  Today, how about something that might actually be of practical benefit to homesteaders raising pigs?

There is an easy way to get a reasonably accurate estimate of a pig’s weight.  To do that run a tape measure behind the pig’s front legs, around the heart girth, and directly behind the shoulders. The pig’s weight is 10.1079 times the girth in inches, minus 205.7492.


This one measures 38 inches. She therefore weighs about 178 pounds.

Obviously you don’t need to go out four decimal places to get the same basic answer. That’s just the way I learned it.

Most folks these days say the ideal processing weight is 250-275 pounds. I’m not sure about that. Yes there is less fat at that weight, but I think the primary reason pigs are processed at that weight is because they convert feed to pounds much less efficiently once they get past 275.  So that’s the point at which they’re the most profitable.  Country folk who raised pigs for their families would have thought it crazy to process a pig when it only weighed 250 pounds.

We will probably process some at that weight, but we’ll keep at least two until they’re around 400 pounds or so.  Those will become whole-hog sausage.

I doubt there is anyone reading this who has a need to estimate a pig’s weight, but didn’t already know how to do it.  But just in case.

And for everyone else, you now have a bit of farm-life trivia you can use to impress or amuse your friends.



13 comments on “Taping a Pig

  1. That’s interesting, Bill. We’ve never seen that method. Ours is a bit different. We measure the pig’s girth (as you do), but then we also measure its length (snout to tail). Our calculation is length x girth x girth ÷ 400 = weight. I think next time we need to weigh, we’ll try it both ways and see how they compare!


    • Bill says:

      I tried it this way this morning. It was hard to get the pig to stand still enough for me to measure the length, but doing the best I could she is 166 lbs according to that method. I think I didn’t get the length accurately, so it’s possible that it would be closer than that had I been able to.


      • I use Applewood Farm’s method too – learned it from Walter Jefferies at Sugar Mountain Farm. I use a piece of string – the metallic tape measure kept freaking the pigs out. I put a knot in the string and measure the string later. I always seem to have string in my pocket from the feed bags, too, whereas the tape measure is never where I think it is. I will have to try your calculation next time and see how it compares.


  2. nebraskadave says:

    Bill, I don’t remember any one on the farm slaughtering hogs at 250 pounds when it was for their own use. I think you are correct in the statement that pigs are a little slower in growth after the 250 mark. Ha, I tried this calculation on myself by measuring around my chest right under my arms. Guess what? It nailed the weight almost exact. Hmmmm, I’m not sure what that means. 🙂

    Have a great pig taping day.


    • shoreacres says:

      I just did the same thing Dave did, and lo and behold — the formula worked. The result was only off by a pound or so. Now that I think of it, I remember health screeners at clinics in Liberia measuring kids at the clinic that way. Maybe they knew the formula, too.


    • Bill says:

      Well I never would have guessed it would work on humans. That’s fascinating. Now I’m wondering if it works for goats.


  3. avwalters says:

    Don’t get that tape measure anywhere near me. I wonder how they came up with it in the first place.


  4. Joanna says:

    I wonder if there is an alpaca equivalent? We could do with knowing their weight a little more accurately 😀


  5. Next time I have to tape a pig…. 🙂


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