How does the reproduction cycle effect the price of pork?
By Bob Oros
A female pig will have her first litter of piglets when she is about one year old. The sow is pregnant for about 4 months, and usually a sow will give birth to around 8 to 12 pigs at a time. A sow can have 2 litters each year. That means that a mother pig can give birth to over 20 piglets each year!
It takes 24 months for a steer or heifer to grow large enough to yield 600 lbs of meat and they can only reproduce one offspring per year. Compared to a hog, which only takes six months to grow to a size that will yield 250 lbs of meat and they can reproduce at a rate of 10 to 20 offspring every six months or one year.
On the other hand, a lamb takes one year to grow large enough to yield 100 lbs of meat and they can only reproduce at the rate of one per year. Poultry reproduces (lays eggs) several times per week. It takes 22 weeks for a turkey to grow large enough to yield 22 lbs of meat and a chicken only 6 to 8 weeks to grow 3 lbs. All of this has a lot with the prices we pay.