How to Start a Hog Farm in 14 Steps (In-Depth Guide)

Updated: February 22, 2024 is reader-supported. When you buy through links on my site, we may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more

The global swine industry is a major economic driver. Projections show a compound annual growth rate of 4.2% from 2023 to 2032. With steady growth projected over the next decade, now presents an opportune time for aspiring farmers looking to tap into this market.


When armed with the proper knowledge, hog farming can be a rewarding endeavor. Yet as with any business, thorough research and planning are paramount before taking the plunge to ensure the best chance at viability and profitability.

This guide will walk you through how to start a hog farm. Topics include market research, competitive analysis, customer focus, registering an EIN, obtaining business insurance, forming a legal business entity, and more.

1. Conduct Hog Farm Market Research

Market research is essential to any pig farming operation. It offers insight into your target market, pig farm business trends, the top pig breed in your area, the best tools for processing pig meat, and more.


Some of the details you’ll learn through market research on starting a pig farming business include:

  • From a segment perspective, opportunities exist across breeding stock, feeder pig, and finished hog production.
  • Producers can choose specialization based on preferences, existing infrastructure, available labor, and relationships with processors.
  • Vertically integrated operations retain ownership through all phases to maximize revenue capture per animal.
  • On the output side, demand drivers look solid long-term even amid pandemic impacts on food service.
  • An expanding global middle class as well as increased promotional focus domestically on pork as an affordable, nutritious protein source with a smaller environmental footprint than beef will further bolster consumption.
  • U.S. exports are also projected to keep rising at a healthy clip after the expected resolution of ongoing trade disputes.
  • Regionally, the Midwest states of Missouri, Iowa, Minnesota, Illinois, Indiana, Nebraska, and Ohio account for over 65% of U.S. inventory.
  • Operations located proximally to grain production for feed as well as major processing facilities in these areas can realize cost efficiencies from reduced transportation needs.
  • While larger commercial enterprises dominate the landscape, small to mid-size niche farms retain stability.
  • Organic, humane certified, antibiotic-free, pasture-raised, and heritage hog production are all fast-growing specialty segments catering to evolving consumer preferences.

An expanding global pork market creates a supportive environment for aspiring hog farmers. Success hinges on careful business planning around optimal geography, production focus, facility specifications, and buyer relationships to turn quality genetics into profits.

2. Analyze the Competition

To assess competitiveness, new entrants should start by identifying major pork producers in their geographic radius. The USDA Map of Local Food allows search by zip code for hog farms along with contact info. Cross-reference with state-level farming associations.


Research production specifics for each through company websites, industry reports, and public databases. Key metrics to gather per competitor include the number of farms, inventory totals, breeds raised, facilities overview, years in business, services offered, major customers, and any specialty certifications.

As e-commerce and digital visibility rise in importance for the agriculture sector, new hog startups must also analyze how potential rivals leverage online channels. Search engine scrutiny of their website content, social media posts, and advertising outreach sheds light on digital prowess.

Onsite visits to competitor farms allow direct assessment if feasible. But even observing externally via satellite view on Google Maps reveals insights into facility layouts and biosecurity measures that impact production efficiency.

Thoroughly scoping the market landscape arms prospective hog entrepreneurs with the intelligence to size up direct competition. It identifies potential gaps that present an opportunity to carve out a niche in terms of geography, products, services, prices, or customers served through omnichannel sales capabilities.

3. Costs to Start a Hog Farm Business

When starting a hog operation, significant upfront capital expenditure is required before generating any revenue. Total investments vary widely based on scale, production system, and existing infrastructure, but prospective farmers should minimally budget around $300,000 to $500,000.

Start-up Costs

Major start-up costs include:

  • Buying suitable farmland for hog facilities and waste lagoons costs $4,000- $8,000 per acre on average. Leasing rates average $200 – $500 yearly per acre.
  • For a 200-sow farrow-to-finish farm, plan on 50-125 acres needed ($250,000 purchase or $15,000 annual lease).
  • Gestation/farrowing barns ($100-$200 per sow), nursery barns ($150-$300 per piglet), finishing barns ($90-$225 per hog), and isolation barns ($250+ per sow) adapted to the region.
  • Feeding, ventilation, manure equipment, etc. ($50,000+).
  • Used facilities can cut costs by 25% or more.
  • At $250+ per premium gilt or sow, building a herd of 200+ females costs $50,000+.
  • Artificial insemination equipment, semen, and boar costs can exceed $5,000.
  • Business formation filing fees are $100+
  • State agriculture permits, licensing, and taxes vary but plan on $1,000+.
  • Liability insurance premiums range from $2,500 annually.
  • Lawyers to review contracts/leases ($2,000)
  • Accountants for tax planning ($500+)
  • Nutritionists for feed formulation guidance ($$1500)
  • Veterinary and vaccines program ($1,000+)

Ongoing Costs

Ongoing annual operating expenses typically range from $400-$650 per sow excluding labor, financed through operating lines of credit until cash flow stabilizes. Monthly costs can spike with variability in feed, utility, repair, and replacement equipment prices.

Budget line items include:

  • Largest cost center representing up to 60% of production expense at $100-$250 yearly per animal as market prices fluctuate.
  • Medications, vaccines, and routine veterinary care average $40 per sow.
  • Heating, and electrical averages $25 monthly per sow.
  • Straw or other bedding, $8/sow/month
  • Routine upkeep of 2% of building value, or $10 annually per square foot of facilities.
  • 1 full-time employee per 1,000 hogs at $15-$20 hourly is typical
  • Annual premiums scale based on herd value, with discounts for secure operations.
  • Feed delivery and livestock hauls can exceed $10,000 yearly

Other costs like loan repayment, depreciation, and marketing must be accounted for as well in financial planning. But with astute management, well-run farrow-to-finish farms can operate profitably on 150-200 sow herds.

4. Form a Legal Business Entity

When starting a hog operation, prospective farmers have four main options to structure the legal business form. Each carries distinct tax treatment, liability rules, and ease of adding owners that warrant consideration before filing paperwork.

Sole Proprietorship

A sole proprietorship constitutes the simplest and cheapest route, requiring only a farm name filing for several hundred dollars. There is no corporate tax form; income and losses flow directly to the owner’s returns. There is unlimited personal liability for debts and lawsuits against the farm, risking the seizure of owners’ non-business assets.


Forming a general partnership entails slightly more paperwork and cost, but similarly exposes owners to unlimited liability despite splitting management duties and financing through shared investment. Income passes through to partners to avoid double taxation.

Limited Liability Company (LLC)

A limited liability company (LLC) offers liability protection for personal assets outside the business. As a separate legal entity, the LLC shields owner exposure in the event of a premises accident, environmental contamination on farm property from waste lagoons, or contractual dispute.


Incorporating as a distinct C-corporation or S-corporation (named for respective IRS tax code treatment) saddles new ventures with administrative burdens offsetting liability advantages. Double taxation of earnings can also reduce owner profits unless particular care is taken with officer salary and dividend policies.

5. Register Your Business For Taxes

An Employer Identification Number (EIN) serves as a unique tax ID for any business entity, similar to a Social Security Number for an individual. Even sole proprietors must obtain an EIN specifically assigned to the farm rather than use their personal SSN.

The IRS requires an EIN to identify taxpayers who hire employees or run partnerships, corporations, and LLCs. But even self-employed hog farmers with no workers need to apply for reporting purposes on annual Schedule F tax returns.

Thankfully securing an EIN proves quick, free of charge, and readily accomplished online via the IRS website. Applicants simply:

  1. Navigate to the EIN Assistant tool and select View Additional Resources to see information specific to farmers.
  2. Identify the legal structure for the hog farm from the provided entity options.
  3. Specify if hiring employees or not to determine eligibility.
  4. Indicate the reason for the EIN as Starting New Business.
  5. Enter basic operation details like name and address.

The assigned EIN arrives immediately upon submitting the short application. In addition, hog farmers should contact their state revenue department to comply with sales tax permits or agriculture exemptions for in-state transactions with equipment vendors and feed suppliers.

Proper business structure establishment and tax ID registrations legitimize a hog farming enterprise. While entailing a few bureaucratic processes, the long-term risk reduction merits the small time and cost investments for owners.

6. Setup Your Accounting

With razor-thin profit margins in the agriculture sector, hog farmers cannot afford to mismanage finances. Yet without a robust bookkeeping system, owners risk bleeding cash through erroneous payments, untracked transactions, or tax errors inviting penalties.

Accounting Software

Programs like QuickBooks seamlessly integrate with bank/credit card accounts to automatically log income and expenses in designated categories. This eliminates manual entry effort while ensuring no payments get missed. Cloud-based access enables remote monitoring from mobile devices while working the barn.

Hire an Accountant

The customized guidance of an accountant proves invaluable for farms juggling complex agriculture-specific regulations around depreciation rules, employment tax thresholds, and sales tax exemptions. Yearly fees of $1,000 – $5,000 buy bookkeeping maintenance, quarterly reviews, and sales tax filings.

Open a Business Bank Account and Credit Card

Equally important as proper tracking, hog farmers must establish separate finances for the farm apart from personal checking/savings. A business credit card also earns rewards while preventing non-farm purchases from appearing on financials. Lenders weigh years in business, revenues, and credit scores.

7. Obtain Licenses and Permits

When gearing up for opening day, the scramble to ready facilities and source livestock often overshadows critical legal obligations. Find federal license information through the U.S. Small Business Administration. The SBA also offers a local search tool for state and city requirements.

Local municipalities govern land usage codes for agriculture-zoned areas. Even minor changes like adding a storage shed or extra gestation barn require approved building permits bounding dimensions and construction methods to occupancy safety standards. Neglecting this risks denial of occupancy certificates to legally house livestock.

Waste management merits particular attention given the environmental impacts of hog manure lagoons. Farmers must submit NPDES permit applications detailing treatment methods and usage plans for stored effluent. Record keeping and water quality monitoring ensure compliance. Yearly NPDES renewal runs $200 on average.

States also enforce particular containment standards for odor and water table protection with fines of up to $25,000 for violations. Protocols like the Oregon CAFO NPDES Program guide minimum acreage and construction specs scaled to herd populations. Permit fees range from $700 to $5,000 here depending on capacity.

Transporting pigs off-site to slaughter facilities or auctions requires adherence to USDA livestock movement laws. Depending on state rules, this entails licenses costing $25+ for the driver and approved truck placards displaying the farm’s unique premises ID number for disease tracing purposes.

8. Get Business Insurance

Operating an agriculture endeavor sans insurance protection invites catastrophic financial peril. Though adding another expense causes hesitation, coverage shields farmers against scenarios that could otherwise sink the entire enterprise.

Some reasons for insurance in your pig farm include:

  • Outbreaks of foreign animal diseases could suddenly mandate wholesale herd culling by regulatory order without recompense.
  • Environmental releases from failed waste lagoon retention ponds can yield exorbitant EPA-levied fines and remediation costs.
  • Premises liability claims from a visitor accidentally injured by aggressive sows while tours could drain cash reserves rapidly through medical payments and legal fees.

The good news is that tailored farm insurance packages bundle property damage, liability, equipment breakdown, and animal mortality policies under one annual premium scaled to herd size and facility values. Rates range from $2,500 to $5,000+ for a 200-sow farm.

To get insured, owners simply reach out to providers like Nationwide for quotes based on current barns, livestock values, staff, and desired coverage limits. Policies should encompass the aforementioned core protections at a minimum to avoid risk exposure.

9. Create an Office Space

Beyond barns and pasture, securing office accommodations benefits budding hog operations immensely regarding professional perception, client meetings, and administrative needs. While home offices appear tempting for convenience and minimal expense, certain scenarios favor investments in external commercial spaces.

Home Office

Home locations initially seem pragmatic, given farmers often dwell on site already. Converting a spare bedroom into a basic office with a desk, computer, filing cabinets, and farm record storage mathematically nets savings of $200 per month in rental or lease payments if not claiming the space deduction on tax returns.

Coworking Office

A coworking space like WeWork offers a compelling option to lease already furnished offices, conference rooms, and front desk staff time as needed at hourly rates from $30 without obligations of longer-term leases. These flex locations dot most major cities to enable client meetings.

10. Source Your Equipment

Raising pigs necessitates significant infrastructure from breeding through the finish phases. While constructing new turnkey systems costs upwards of $300 per sow, farmers have options to cut expenditures through used purchases, short-term rentals, or leases.

Buy new

Buying new enables precise customization to land contours, herd size, and specialized production like organic or pasture-raised with warranty protections. Local supply shops like Hog Slat offer integrated packages covering climate controls, watering, feed distribution, and waste management.

Buy Used

Auctions and estate sales commonly feature functional tools, bulk feed bins, livestock trailers, fencing panels, and supplemental equipment coming from regional consolidations or retirement situations. Facebook Marketplace and Craigslist provide additional peer-to-peer exchange access at steep discounts.


Producers unsure of ideal barn specifications can rent to test configuration assumptions and site planning before permanent builds. National rental chains like Sunbelt Rentals offer livestock containment products.


Leasing entire farrow-to-wean or wean-to-finish systems through vendors constitutes the final option, enabling fixed annual payments for maintenance and upgrades without major capital risks. Terms like $50-$75 monthly per sow with 10-year use rights let farmers focus on production. vandalism as well.

11. Establish Your Brand Assets

Distinguishing a hog operation in a commoditized industry dominated by large-scale producers starts with strategic brand building. While raising quality pigs remains imperative, aesthetics and marketing polish inspire confidence in both direct buyers and processors negotiating pricing.

Get a Business Phone Number

Securing a dedicated business phone line sets the foundation like RingCentral. Calls routed to founders’ cell phones appear unprofessional and risk losing buyer leads. Toll-free virtual numbers with custom-recorded greetings and extensions give larger corporate impressions at modest monthly rates.

Design a Logo

Logos are essential to creating a lasting impression on customers seeking pig farms. It offers a visual to remember your brand and build loyalty as a consumer. Look to platforms like AI-centric Looka to obtain a professional and affordable logo in minutes.

Print Business Cards

Reputations take root offline as well. Visiting groups appreciate custom farm signs marking pastures like Vistaprint, facilities, and parking areas. Business card distribution at regional agriculture fairs quickly grows acquaintance networks leading to helpful industry connections.

Buy a Domain Name

An information-packed website on a search-friendly domain like Namecheap spells 24/7 credibility. Prospective pig buyers and processors research operations online before ever scheduling an in-person meeting.

Design a Website

A personalized website is key to any new hog farming business. Sites easily built through Wix simplify the website design process. Look to freelancers through platforms like Fiverr for more professional designs.

12. Join Associations and Groups

Raising quality livestock hinges as much on continual education and peer connections as on genetics and feed. Industry associations, trade shows, and online communities provide fertile ground for farmers to cross-pollinate ideas driving productivity gains, risk management, and shared problem-solving.

Local Associations

Joining local and national associations offers connections to industry knowledge and support. Check out the National Pork Producers Council and the American Pork Club to start.

Local Meetups

Seek out local events through platforms like Meetup, field days at member farms, youth programs educating future generations, and legislative lobbying to advance the industry. Nominal membership fees fund valuable marketing initiatives and unity on pressing issues like foreign animal disease prevention.

Facebook Groups

Outside structured gatherings, digital communities breed connections through continual discussion. Facebook groups like USA Hog Breeders and Hobby Farms provide farmer-to-farmer advice on everything from veterinary questions to processing guidance across over 20,000 members.

13. How to Market a Hog Farm Business

Generating steady demand for finished hogs starts with strategic promotional outreach. While quality animals sell themselves on merits, more volume flows to operators savvy in marketing.

Referral Marketing

Focus energies on delighting early buyers. Request referrals to like-minded farmers seeking reliable stock. Offer finder’s fees encouraging referrals to incentivize endorsements. Optimizing every new relationship creates word-of-mouth momentum.

Digital Marketing

  • Launch Google Ads campaigns geo-targeting regional hog purchasers. Pay only for clicks to the farm’s website.
  • Create Facebook ads showcasing specialty breeds and lead generation offers drawing potential customers into a sales funnel.
  • Post TikTok short videos displaying charming piglets and facilities. Link to sales pages in captions.
  • Start a YouTube channel documenting daily life on the farm and establish expertise. Include contact info below each video.
  • Blog about niche processes like humane harvesting techniques and optimized feed formulations for search visibility and thought leadership.

Traditional Marketing

  • Design full-color mailers with pricing lists and lead gen coupons sent to local processors and agriculture groups building in-person familiarity.
  • Buy newspaper classified Ads and radio mentions on rural stations during weather reports reaching engaged farmers.
  • Sponsor 4H events and state fairs to meet future generations of producers.
  • Print flyers distributed at local feed shops and diners frequented by the agriculture community.
  • Invest in a visible roadside farm sign for drive-by visibility for regional commuters and traffic.

Consistency across digital and traditional channels strengthens the hog brand and incoming requests. Dedicate 10+ hours weekly to spread your story.

14. Focus on the Customer

Farmers rely on buyer loyalty, not margins, for profitability. Just one negative experience risks relationships in this reputation-driven sector. Customer focus increases potential ROI on your breeding herd.


Some ways to increase customer service as you raise young pigs include:

Little gestures like honoring last-minute payment term extension requests if late checks from other farms leave purchasers short-term cash-constrained can earn immense gratitude. Another tactic is accommodating weekend or early-morning loading appointments.

Farmers should also proactively contact trusted regular patrons first when introducing new heritage breeds or launching specialty antibiotic-free programs to offer first selection given their patronage. Sharing the opportunity strengthens ties even if the buyer passes.

Success among pig producers isn’t about the number of pigs raised or several pig breeds on-site. It’s about the connections you make. As you start pig farming, form lasting connections with consumers to guarantee return customers.

You Might Also Like

{"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}