Closed Buffets Force Las Vegas Pig Farms to Look Elsewhere Scraps

Las Vegas Livestock fed its 4,000 pigs with leftovers from the city. During the COVID-19 outbreak, that well has run dry.

I love Las Vegas as much as the next guy, but few cities are as directly tied to the idea of excess as Sin City. Typically, part of that excess is excess food from the city’s many restaurants and buffets. But as the COVID-19 outbreak has caused The Strip to grind to a halt, all those usual scraps are hard to come by—and believe it or not, that’s a significant problem for 4,000 pigs.

Las Vegas Livestock—billed as a family pig farm in Las Vegas specializing “in providing a sustainable option for disposing of food scraps”—has been struggling to find enough food for its hogs since Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak required non-essential businesses to close from March 18 until at least April 16. According to Fox5, the farm was used to receiving 20 tons of food from casinos and restaurants in the area every single day; now, that supply is cut off.

Close-up, wide angle view of a pig's snout & ear.

“We get some product from other communities,” co-owner Hank Combs told the news station. “We have products that come in from Denver and Idaho, California because they see the value in what we do here.” However, at this point, Las Vegas Livestock has “been forced to slow down,” as they posted of Facebook. Fox5 says that means continuing to sell its pigs, but not restocking with new ones; as a result, Combs is anticipating having half as many pigs in just a couple weeks’ time.

In the long run, Las Vegas could lose out, too. As Eater explains, back in 2017, the farm said an eye-popping 15 percent of all buffet waste in the city went to their pigs. So in normal times, Las Vegas Livestock not only offers a source of meat, but also a viable way to keep waste out of landfills. And recently, the farm reportedly introduced an even more high-tech method of salvaging scraps—said to be a first-of-its-kind system—that can remove food from packaging, allowing even more waste to turn into hog food.

But for now, Las Vegas Livestock is simply looking to stay afloat. “Any food recycling opportunities are welcome. Please keep us in mind. This is a hard time for all, remember to spread kindness,” they wrote on social media. “The question is can you recover, right?” Combs told Fox5. “Are you going to be able to have the numbers, the cash to buy the pigs, be able to sustain it? All of that's unanswered questions.”

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