Last year we upgraded from feeding with bathtubs to using 300 gallon cattle troughs for the whey in some places, especially for the larger pigs in the breeding herd. The troughs are set down into the ground because they are so deep that even the biggest pigs have a hard time reaching in. If the troughs are simply on the ground they catch the pigs in the throat as they try to drink. Big pigs, at 600 to 1,400 lbs are much like short legged cattle but their necks aren’t as long. Setting the troughs down low let all the pigs easily access the whey and milk.
There is a problem though with these deep troughs. The bottom is smooth making it hard for a pig to climb back out. If a little pig falls in the trough it wouldn’t be able to get out at all. To solve this we put in rocks and old broken milk crates into the troughs so they can easily exit. This uses up a little bit of the volume of the trough but it isn’t significant. We use the same trick on our bathtubs and even the smaller barrel bottoms so that if a piglet falls in it can get get out.
During the winter we poured concrete pads around the troughs using excess concrete from our greenhouse pours because it gets so muddy there. The concrete pads have worked out very well. Previously I had tried making pads of dirt, wood chips, gravel and large rocks but none of those worked out well. I do have some very large slabs of granite I may also try.
Another problem with the low set troughs is that in the winter the ‘ground’, which is to say the packed snow, rises up 18″ so the troughs that were 12″ above ground in the summer are 6″ below the ‘surface’ in the winter. Where as in the summer the pigs reached up to drink now they must reach down to drink. The concrete pad helps with this as it is easier to keep it cleared off and the pigs help. On my to-do list is putting an open shed over the troughs but it isn’t high on the priority list.
The whey gravity feeds from the tanks through 1″ and 2″ pipes. We had originally started with 1″ piping but that clogs all too easily in the winter. Last year we upgraded to 2″ pipe on two of the three tanks and that made a world of difference. No more frozen lines on cold winter mornings clotted with butter. The lines are all setup to self-drain but when it gets very cold there can be a bit of build up which becomes an issue in the 1″ piping. In some places we have the 2″ piping leading to 4″ drain pipes which work very well. The trough above shows one of the 4″ pipes with a 90° elbow at the end.
Rusted Stock Panel
Stock panels are heavy, #4 gauge, welded wire that has been galvanized. The galvanization is not sufficient to protect the metal from the salt in the whey. I test dipped this extra piece of panel into the whey to see what would happen. It rusted out very rapidly. Just a few hours of dipping produced the results above on the lower part of the panel. The middle portion had been dipped but not left in the whey. The top part of the panel was not dipped. For this reason we generally use plastic around the whey rather than metal. Even brass and stainless steel decay in time. Interestingly, the whey doesn’t taste very salty so it doesn’t take much to rust out the galvanization.
Outdoors: 73°F/43°F Sunny, Very Windy
Tiny Cottage: 74°F/65°F