Frequently Asked Questions (Pork)


1. How much meat do I get when purchasing a whole or half hog?
2. How much do I pay for a whole or half hog?
3. How much freezer space is required for a whole or half hog?
4. What cuts of pork will I get from a whole or half hog?
5. What can I do with all these different pork cuts?

1. How much meat do I get when purchasing a whole or half hog?

Take-home meat depends on several factors, the most important of which are live weight, dressing percentage, and cutting yield.

  • Live weight for our hogs ranges from about 220 to 250 pounds. We don’t know the final live weight until we weigh them shortly before they go to the locker.
  • Dressing percentage is the ratio of hanging weight to live weight. Hanging weight, or carcass weight, is what remains after slaughtering an animal. The producer and locker are separately paid based on hanging weight. We generally see a dressing percentage of about 74%.
  • Cutting yield is the ratio of take-home meat to hanging weight and depends on the skill of the butcher as well as the customer’s cutting instructions. We use 65% cutting yield as an average. If a customer chooses primarily boneless cuts, the yield may be closer to 55%, while by choosing bone-in cuts and saving organ meats, the yield may about 75%. If everything including lard is saved, the cutting yield should be about 95%.

An example based on a 250 lb live weight and 180 lb hanging weight (72% dressing percentage):

AmountTake-Home Meat (65% Yield)
Whole117 lb
Half59 lb

Return to top
2. How much do I pay for a whole or half hog?

This depends on the hanging weight, the cutting yield, the amount (whole or half), and the cutting instructions you provide the locker. The locker charge will come out to around $1.00/lb (hanging weight) for basic cuts. Curing (bacon, ham) and roasting (roast pork) will add to the processing cost.

An example based on the numbers from the previous questions above (180 lb hanging weight):

AmountPaid to ProducerPaid to Locker (Basic Cuts)Total CostCost/Lb of Take-Home Meat (65% Cutting Yield)Cost/Lb of Take-Home Meat (95% Cutting Yield)
Whole$405 ($2.25/lb)$170$575$5.10$3.49
Half$225 ($2.50/lb)$85$310$5.49$3.75

Return to top
3. How much freezer space is required for a whole or half hog?

Although it depends on how the meat is packaged, generally 20 pounds of meat will fit in one cubic foot of freezer space. The freezer compartment of an average home refrigerator contains about 4.8 cubic feet of space. Chest freezers range in size from about eight to about 25 cubic feet (and are much more efficient).

An example based on the numbers above (180 lb hanging weight, 65% cutting yield):

  • whole: 5.9 cu ft
  • half: 2.9 cu ft

Return to top

4. What cuts of pork will I get from a whole or half hog?

  • The short answer is… it’s up to you! The customer must contact the locker after the live animal has been delivered to the locker but before it has been butchered (typically a few days after drop-off). The locker will want to know if you’d like the hams smoked or fresh, how thick to cut the bacon, if you want loin roasts or chops, etc. Here are examples from the Holstein, Iowa locker for a half hog and a whole hog.
  • The medium-length answer: the table below shows major pork products by proportion of hanging weight.
    ComponentPoundsProportion of Hanging Weight
    Pork10658%
    Fat (lard)2313%
    Waste (skin, bones)2011%
    Trim (breakfast sausage)1810%
    Misc. (jowls, feet, neck bones, tail, etc.)158%
    Loss21%
  • The long answer includes recipes and pork industry information about each cut.

Feel free to contact us for a handy guide that answers this question in more detail.
Return to top
5. How can I use all these different pork cuts?
We have compiled a list of common pork cuts with links to more information (including recipes). The National Pork Board has a guide to using different pork cuts. The Cook’s Thesaurus can help you sort out all the different names for the same cuts of pork.
Return to top