Search for Excellence in Livestock Production

Alexandria Straight
Ag & Natural Resources Extension Agent
WVU Extension Service
Hardy and Hampshire County

Brabham, Brandy1, , Richmond, Jodi2, , Straight, A.3, , Bailey, Daisy4, , Huffman, Stacey5,
1 Extension Agent, WVU Extension, Spencer, WV, 25276
2 Extension Agent, WVU Extension, Princeton, WV, 24740
3 Ag & Natural Resources Extension Agent, WVU Extension Service, Moorefield, WV, 26836
4 Extension Agent, WVU Extension, Gilmer, WV, 26351
5 Extension Agent, WVU Extension, Spencer, WV, 26726

The US is the world's third-largest producer of pork and hog operations are heavily concentrated in the Midwest and in eastern North Carolina with most commercial swine producers operating in an integrated production system. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic many of the slaughterhouses either temporally closed or were operating at a decreased capacity by spring of 2020. The fast-growing genetics of modern pigs prevented them from being held at slaughter weight.  Producers had new piglets ready to enter their system but no outlet for hogs that needed slaughtered. There was a large supply of hogs ready for slaughter concentrated in the Midwest and no way to process them. Many market ready hogs were being euthanized to make room for the next crop of piglets.  


WVU Extension Agents began examining the economics and logistics of providing a market for these producers.  Order buyers and in some cases individual producers were contacted about the availability of hogs.  Truckers were lined up.  Qualtrics surveys were developed in some areas to assess clientele interest in purchasing slaughter-ready hogs.  Within a week, twelve tractor trailer loads of hogs were scheduled for five different regions of WV.   In total of 2411 hogs (weighing 678,140 pounds) were purchased by West Virginia families, providing them with an affordable, high quality protein source. Agents created a factsheet on safe home slaughter and provided information on meat cuts and home preservation.   Hogs were purchased in 40 of WV’s 55 counties.

Extension conducted a follow-up survey of participants where 142 people responded, indicating 64.8% of hogs were processed at home.  Of the 35.2% that were processed professionally, 60.8% had their hogs further processed (cured, smoked, etc.).  Processing costs ranged from $0.65/lb. and $35 slaughter fee to $0.70/lb. and $60 slaughter fee.

This program provided both a market for mid-west producers and an affordable food source for very grateful clientele.  It quickly became evident that managing requests could be a full-time job.  After establishing the connections, Extension made the decision to encourage local livestock markets to manage the program and many throughout the state brought in dozens more loads afterward.