The place I obtain my 1/2 pigs normally slaughter them at about 16 weeks. Some might argue that this is too young, but I would say that the pork is deliciously tender. The proprieters are very proud to explain their prizes that are on show in the small shop. They also sell lambs, same great quality. The 1/2 pigs generally come out around the 50 lb mark, give or take. You also get half the offal.. 1/2 a heart, a kidney and 1/2 the liver. They come with half the head, which makes just over a pound of 'quality' brawn. Because of the quality of the meat, I was reluctant at first to use any of it for sausages, but now I use most of the fore quarter.. ie the neck part (normally used as spare ribs) plus the hand and shoulder (blade). I normally use the bit above the shoulder for collar bacon. If I am making salami I normally use the collar as well. I generally roll and tie some small loin joints and also us some of it for either back bacon or I cure some using Franco's Parma cure. I remove the tenderloin and freeze it and when I have a few I use them to make high quality pork pies using some minced back fat and some home cured ham or bacon. The back leg normally gets boned a rolled and cured for traditional ham. I rarely process any of the pork into chops. The belly gets trimmed to a suitable shap for streaky bacon and the belly trimmings go towards the sausages or salami. The ribs are sheet boned at full length for extra meaty braised chinese ribs.
You do not have to necessarily stick to traditional/recognisable cuts, it all depends what you want from the pig. Last one I used 1/2 the belly for streaky and the other 1/2 of belly was stuffed, rolled and tied and cut into 2 roasting joints and frozen. There is a little turorial on my site showing and explaining where the cuts should be made for traditional joints but it is totally your decision. The bones are boiled for stock and then frozen. The trotters go in with the head for the gelatine needed to set the brawn, although I did see a good recipe on TV recently where the rear trotters were stuffed. Any skin can be boiled and used to make white puddings although I have not got around to this yet.
Tools needed are a good quality sharp boning knife, and I would recommend a good steel as well. Although I have a butchers saw and a 10" cleaver, I prefer to use the boning knife.
Well don't just sit there reading this, go get yourself 1/2 a pig.. it's the only way to learn. I would also point out that you must keep the meat as cold as possible whilst processing, which for me means running up and down the garden many times ( the fridge and freezers are in the shed) clutching body parts in full view of my vegetarian neighbours
Regards, Paul Kribs