LAS VEGAS (FOX5) -- Last month, FOX5 visited Las Vegas Livestock where thousands of pigs relied on food scraps from the Strip. The farm continues to downsize and is scraping by.
Tucked between the mountains, Las Vegas Livestock is a little quieter.
“We’re below 50 percent now on our inventory,” Hank Combs said.
Combs said they’re used to having around 4,000 pigs on the farm. Now they’re down to 1,800.
“I think if it goes until the beginning of June, I think we’ll be down a thousand, maybe less pigs,” Combs said.
Combs is not replacing the pigs he sells. He hasn’t bought any since January because he doesn’t have enough food to feed them.
The pigs used to rely on scraps from valley casinos, but when the Strip shut down, “we kind of saw the writing on the wall,” Combs said.
First the farm had a hard time finding food for the pigs. Now they’re having a hard time selling them.
“I’m actually selling those pigs for less than what I bought them for four months ago,” Combs said. “Then I put all of this labor into it, their feed, I still got to pay my rent, my buildings.”
The price for a pig has been cut in half. Combs said it’s at a historic low as meat processing plants across the country shut down. Combs said other pig farmers and suppliers are stepping into his market and taking his business.
“That was a scare I had early on and that’s another reason why we didn’t want to buy any more inventory because we figured the packers would eventually have an outbreak like they did,” he said. “I called yesterday and now nobody wants any pigs right now.”
Combs said things will turn around eventually, but it will take farmers time to catch up.
“We can’t just turn on a switch and have a bunch of pigs ready to go with the plants open back up,” he said. “Farmers have to gear back up, raise the pigs, get them to the market so there’s going to be a shortage of pork, meat.”
Combs expects his food source to bounce back first, how soon though, he doesn’t know.
“I don’t see reopening all of a sudden being a flood gate of people coming to Vegas,” Combs said. “I think they’ll start planning their wedding, planning their conventions. But I think it’s going to be six months, nine months a year, before they really start coming in again. Anything is possible, there’s no guarantees. Who would’ve thought the Strip would shut down. We thought we had a for sure thing here, long term.”
The farm was able to get a government Paycheck Protection Program loan to help play its six employees.
They’re looking at other sales methods, including direct to consumer.
“So if somebody wants meat in their freezer, they can arrange it,” Combs said. “They can arrange it, we can deliver it, process it. They can get the whole hog or split it with their neighbors.”