Swine Raising

By: E. M. Regenbrecht and Chris Cravens

Type: General Entry

Published: 1976

Updated: September 1, 1995

The Texas census of 1848 recorded 223,358 pounds of pork produced at a value of $315,855, although swine production in the state had begun prior to that year. In 1866 Galveston exported 97,230 pounds of bacon valued at fourteen cents a pound. The raising of hogs was popular among early Texas settlers, particularly German farmers. In the era of the open range, hogs were managed like cattle, running semiwild and foraging the countryside for a great deal of their food. Counties noted for their swine in the 1860s included Hill, Kendall, and Gillespie. The Swine Breeders' Association of Texas was organized in 1899. Marketing problems and insufficient corn crops presented difficulties to swine producers at the start of the twentieth century. The 1908 census credited Texas with 3,304,000 hogs valued at $18,502,00. The meat-packing plants in the state had to import hogs in 1910, though Texas ranked fourth in the nation in swine production. In 1913 there were an estimated 2,493,000 hogs valued at $20,941,000. By 1914 swine were being raised in all counties in the state. Production expanded from 1914 to 1920, due to an increase of available feedstuffs. The depression of 1920–21, however, caused a decline in production. In 1925 the number of swine was 1,542,000 valued at $5,420,000, but by 1933 the number had increased to 2,033,000. In 1939 the state produced 526,828,000 pounds of pork valued at $29,682,000. By 1949 Texas ranked eighth among states in hog production, and first outside of the corn belt with 1,701,000 hogs produced at a value of $46,437,000. The heaviest producing counties by the late 1940s were Liberty, Montgomery, Leon, Llano, Polk, Tyler, and Hale. The leading breeds raised during these years were Duroc, Poland-China, Hampshire, Chester, and OIC.

In the 1950s Texas swine production was below the state's consumption, and large imports from the midwestern states were necessary. The main obstacle to increased hog production was the lack of consistent corn yield in the state. The 1954 census reported 906,000 hogs valued at $23,375,000. Production continued to dwindle throughout the 1960s. In 1960 Texas had 1,263,000 swine valued at $19,198,000. The introduction of hybrid corn met with some success, but only the state's size enabled it to rank among the top twenty swine producing states by 1963. The gross income from 325,896,000 pounds of pork was $73,027,000 in 1969. The average weight was 239 pounds per animal and prices averaged $21.60 per hundredweight. By the late 1960s production was scattered over the state, but the main areas were in West-Central Texas, the South Plains, the southern Blacklands, the Panhandle, and Northeast Texas.

By the 1970s Texas ranked fourteenth among states in swine production. In the early part of the decade about 1.6 million hogs were being produced annually, providing 30 to 35 percent of the state's consumption. Specialization in the industry during this time resulted in a demand for top quality feeder pigs by farmers who had grain available, and feeder pig marketing associations were established in East and Central Texas to meet this demand. During this time there was also an increase in swine production in the Panhandle, South Plains and West-Central areas of the state.

In 1978 1,240,000 hogs were marketed, producing 316,258,000 pounds of pork valued at $138,521,000 for cash receipts of $137,301,000 or $43.80 per 100 pounds. Texas ranked seventeenth among states in swine production in 1979. There were 23,000 hog operations in Texas by 1981. The state ranked seventeenth in the country in production in 1982, and that year 894,000 hogs were marketed, producing 208,648,000 pounds of pork valued at $115,888,000. Cash receipts for that year totaled $103,462,000, or $49.60 per 100 pounds. The leading counties in number of hogs in 1982 were Llano, Lubbock, Wilson, Caldwell, Gillespie, Fayette, Mason, Uvalde, Hale and Karnes.

The mild climate makes it possible to farrow pigs any season of the year; hog producers, therefore, usually produce two litters per year from each sow. Many of the swine raised are fast-fed pigs, usually reaching market at 200 to 250 pounds. Production units vary from one to more than 1,100 sows. Although the number of farms producing hogs has steadily decreased, the size of production has increased. With the trend towards larger units, there has been an increase in swine production in the Panhandle, South Plains, and west-central areas of Texas. In 1991 Texas ranked eighteenth among states in number of swine on hand, and produced 19 percent of the pork consumed by the state, or about 762,000 head annually. In 1991 810,000 hogs were marketed, producing 209,578,000 pounds of pork valued at $95,155,000, or $45.10 per 100 pounds. The leading counties in hog numbers in 1988 were Archer, Colorado, Fayette, Lee, Llano, Lubbock, Milam, Moore, Uvalde, and Wilson. By the early 1990s the potential for increased production both for feeder pigs and slaughter hogs existed, due primarily to the establishment of marketing associations capable of shipping slaughter hogs to any point in the country and also to the large volume of sorghum grain produced in the state.

James C. Hestand, More Hogs in Texas (Austin: A. C. Baldwin and Sons, 1918). Hong Y. Lee, Cash Flow Analysis for Total Confinement Swine Producing Operation, Texas High Plains (Lubbock: College of Agricultural Sciences, Texas Tech University, 1974). Hong Y. Lee, Interregional Analysis of Texas Swine-Pork Industry (Lubbock: College of Agricultural Sciences, Texas Tech University, 1975). Grady McWhiney, Cracker Culture: Celtic Ways in the Old South (University, Alabama: University of Alabama Press, 1988). A. K. Short, Swine Management in Texas (Austin: Texas Department of Agriculture, 1913).
  • Agriculture
  • Products (Animal)

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

E. M. Regenbrecht and Chris Cravens, “Swine Raising,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed June 30, 2022, https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/swine-raising.

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

September 1, 1995