Have it your way! We use Byron Center Meats (BCM) to do our processing*. They do an excellent job and are very accommodating. All processing is custom to your instructions; they don't start cutting until they have your directions.
The most common question I receive is, "What can I get?" Below is a link to some great information about different cuts and what you get from a pig:
By design, our pork isn't bred or grown to be lean. Heritage pig breeds generally have more fat marbled into the meat than commercial breeds. Heritage breeds are just that: the way pork used to be before it became "the other white meat." You'll notice small flecks of fat distributed through the meat. This contributes to the flavor and juiciness. You'll probably also notice that it is a little darker than typical pork. Heritage pork and Berkshire pork in particular is generally darker than commercial pork so slightly darker meat is to be expected.
Some processing and packaging tips I've learned along the way:
1) Ham: A whole ham is a LOT of meat. If you're having the hind leg cured into ham, consider having it cut into ham steaks and/or 2-3 pound pieces. It's much easier to thaw and cook in smaller quantities. I get rave reviews about the ham steaks. If you like ham, but don't want quite so much as a whole hind leg, an alternative is to have the shoulder made into ham. This is called a 'picnic' ham and is a smaller piece of meat. That can also be cut into yet smaller pieces if you'd like. You can also leave the hind leg uncured (fresh) and cut into roasts, used for pulled pork, or ground for sausage or ground pork.
2) Bacon: BCM makes bacon and it's excellent, but you don't have to cure or smoke the bacon. Some people leave it fresh which is called 'fresh side bacon' or 'side pork.' It's very good cooked like regular bacon with salt added to taste. It's perfect for people who are very salt-sensitive because you can add as much or as little salt as you desire. You can also leave it in a slab as pork-belly. There are a lot of good Asian-inspired recipes for pork-belly.
3) Hocks/shanks: If you like homemade soup, hocks and shanks are very good for that. They're just the lower legs. I just have ours ground with the sausage because we use left-over ham in soups and we love sausage. They're also very good smoked and make a nice little 1-2 pound ham.
4) Tenderloin: If you want the tenderloin, make sure to ask BCM for it. It's usually cut as part of the pork chops.
5) Pork Loin: The loin is usually cut into the pork chops. You can keep it whole or have it cut into sections as a loin roast. Or, you can have some of both. Canadian bacon is made from the loin also.
6) Shoulder: The shoulder can be cured into a 'picnic' ham, cut into roasts, or cut into pork steaks. Shoulder roasts are often used for pulled pork. Pork steaks are excellent and are probably the most flavorful cut. I recommend having at least some cut into steaks.
7) Organs: If you want the head, tongue, liver, kidneys, heart, or feet, let me know. Otherwise, I give them away as dog food -- hate to see anything wasted.
8) Lard: If you like to use lard in your cooking, be sure to ask BCM for it. You have to render it yourself to use it, but that's a simple process.
9) Package size: You can have it packaged in any size/qty you'd like. If you have 3 people to feed, it's nice to have 3 chops per package, bacon and sausage in half-pound packages, etc. If you often eat alone, one pork chop is easier to thaw. Whatever works for you, they'll do it.
10) Sausage/Ground Pork: They can do breakfast sausage, Italian sausage, spicy, brats, links, kielbasa, etc. The brats, breakfast sausage, and Italian are family favorites at our house. We just get bulk sausage and make patties when we cook it. We also add it to meat loaf, hamburgers, etc. You can have any part/amount of the pig ground, but usually they just put all the trimmings into the sausage. Some people use the whole hog just for sausage. You can also get ground pork which doesn't have any seasoning. You can use it just like hamburger, make your own sausage, etc.
11) If in doubt, please ask. I might know the answer or can find it for you.
When you call in your instructions, they'll walk you through a checklist and answer any questions you might have. You can see their basic checklist with processing costs here: http://byroncentermeats.com.
None of the meat will be fully cooked, so safe food handling practices should be followed. The meat will all be deep-frozen and vacuum-packed in plastic. In a deep-freeze freezer, it should last and be as good as fresh for 12 months or more. In a refrigerator freezer, you should eat it in 3-6 months since they don't freeze quite as cold. If you are making any stops or it's a long drive home, plan on bringing a cooler. A half pig should fit in a large camping-size cooler.
* While we highly recommend Byron Center Meats, other processing arrangements are available.
PETE's Fine Swine