800 Lbs of Butter, 30,000 Lbs of Cheese

Juggling some of 800 Pounds of Butter

Showing off with sticks of butter. The local business who gives us their whey had a bad batch of butter. They make a lot of butter and these things happen with any production process. But what is not quite up to par for people is delicious for the pigs. Rather than throwing it away they gave us a call to see if we wanted it for the pigs. It’s great stuff, very high in lysine which is a protein and calories – both of which are lacking in our pig’s pasture diet. It is wonderful to have them keeping good stuff like this out of the waste stream and the pigs thank them from the bottoms of their tummies!

Most of our pig’s diet is pasture in the warm months replaced by hay in the winter months when we’re on snow pack. For details about what they eat and how we raise pigs see the Pig Page, read the paragraph about diet and follow the feeding links for more details.

Unloading 30,000 of Cottage Cheese

Earlier this winter we got a load of 30,000 lbs of premium Cabot cottage cheese. This is the good stuff, the cottage cheese I love. Cabot’s another dairy company just a bit north of us and they too have a long standing relationship with area pig farmers keeping good organics out of the waste stream.

How much is 30,000 pounds of cottage cheese? It was about 40 of those pallets you see there in the photo on the tractor forks. Fortunately most of it was in the larger 5 lb containers. It takes a lot of time getting them out into buckets but it is a most excellent food for piglets as they wean and begin their big growth spurt. (Thanks, Ed!)

How much of our pigs diet does this make up? Not a huge amount. About 80% to 90% of our pigs’s diet is pasture/hay. About 7% is dairy of which almost all of that is whey. Occasionally we luck into a windfall like this cheese or butter, probably once a year for the smaller 1,000 lb amount and once every few years for the larger amounts. The result is this represents about 2 ounces (0.13 lbs) per pig per day which isn’t very much. The actual math varies year to year depending on how lucky we get and how many pigs we have that year as well as what time of year we get it – things like this store all winter but not so long in the heat of summer. I wish it were more often and the cheese and butter maker wishes it was less often since the reason we get it is they had a problem like when a batch froze on a truck. Fortunately the pigs are eager to help with the problem when they can be of assistance.

Ferret Proof Pipe

This past week Ben ferret proofed the cottage and moved the ferrets up here from the old house where they had still been staying in the shed room. Here’s a wire mesh grating he made to keep the ferrets from weaseling their way through the air ventilation pipes. Our new house, the cottage, is actually so tight we don’t get mice. I’ve never lived in a mouse-less house before. An advantage of new construction and of stone/concrete.

Ben, Kavi and Fred Ferret

Kavi, the dog, is absolutely devoted to the ferrets. They have been his pets from day one when they arrived. He is quite possessive of them, not wanting Lili, Cinnamon or other dogs to play with the ferrets. Being able to come into the house and play with them once a day is something he looks forward to. He’ll stand up on his hind legs looking up towards the loft where their cage is asking “ferrets, ferrets, play, please” over and over. It is quite fascinating how these levels of relationships work out.

Head on over and check out Ben’s blog for more about the ferret’s new digs.

Outdoors: 50°F/44°F Rain
Farm House: 50°F/49°F
Tiny Cottage: 66°F/60°F

About Walter Jeffries

Tinker, Tailor...
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10 Responses to 800 Lbs of Butter, 30,000 Lbs of Cheese

  1. Anonymous says:

    Do you store these huge amounts of cheese, as in the cottage cheese example? It seems like that would require a mighty big freezer or cooler! What do you do with all the packaging?
    Also, sorry if you’ve heard this one before, do you think its a good idea to feed pigs on a diet of donuts or bread with the addition of some woodland area to root up?

  2. We have an enormous cooler and freezer – the outdoors. The cottage cheese got here during the winter months, as you probably noticed from the photo, and will keep for ever frozen like that. In our cool climate butter and cheese will keep for months in the shade cooled by the earth which is still only 46째F and we’ve twice had tinges of frosts in the past week.

    The cardboard gets composted – it is a great way to add carbon, bulking and air to the compost pile. The packaging is mostly recycleable – I save out a few hundred of the tubs to use as containers for starting seedlings and such. The film plastics aren’t recycleable, although they should be, so we bag and compact those – $3.50 at the dump.

    On the feeding of the bread, no, it wouldn’t be a complete diet but they would grow well on it. The problem is the bread is high in calories but low in protein. Of course, this varies with the type of bread and how they’ll do will vary with how much bread they get. Just watch their condition. If they are fattening up too much then back off on the calories. To get them to grow faster they need more protein (plant legumes like clover) and they need lysine which is the limiting (incomplete) protein on that diet. Adding dairy to their diet is an easy solution.

    As to woodlands, there’s some food there, but not nearly as much as out on pasture.

    Good luck with your pigs.

  3. Little Ant says:

    Love that Cabot cheese. I’m sure pigs around the world lie in envy of your pigs in VT. :)

  4. ChristyACB says:

    That is the good stuff. A bad batch…how tragic! I could eat it all day. Of course, then I’d look very much like a pig so…

  5. David says:

    Walter you are the king of the finds. I don’t know of anyone who’s made as many great scores. I remember that ton of peanut butter photo from last year with the pig. Simply totally amazing!!

  6. I have devoured your blog much like your pigs devour the dairy products you bring them.

    But I still have questions – here in Oregon, pastured pork is still a novelty so when I try to figure out what to feed my 9 piglets all I get is…uhm you need to feed pig ration (pelleted w/ soy etc), no you can’t just feed COB (corn oats barley).

    We have nice grassy pasture for them, plus alfalfa or grass hay – and possibly powdered milk from the creamery nearby. But I don’t know if *just* pasture and hay is enough? Will they get enough protein? I can’t find anything w/o Soy and I am completely opposed to using it…so I am stuck. Would the powdered milk be ok just in a trough dry if we did not use grain at all?

    Any advice for a new, very paranoid pig farmer?

    BTW your site is amazing and such an inspiration. I twittered it :)

    • Dawn Carroll says:

      I don’t feed a commercial pellets feed ration…I do however feed “wet” cob & alfalfa hay. And they graze during grazing season on the alfalfa fields. My pigs do very well on this diet with a steady 1.5 pounds average of weight per day. I have heritage breeds, Berkshire, Herefords, & Spots and I am in Eastern Oregon. So far in Eastern Oregon that I can see Idaho from my living room window.
      Don’t let anyone tell you that pigs don’t do well on rolled, steamed, wet cob. They do have teeth and they do their own grinding with their teeth. That is what they have teeth for is to chew their food. I have never had ulcer problems with this diet like they might on ground “flour” feeds…why…well because they chew their food to the perfect grind for their digestive systems and because they are chewing more, more saliva gets mixed in with their food and they actually digest the food better when they are allowed to chew their food.
      Anyway that is my two cents worth.

  7. You can do very well without soy. I have raised three different batches of pigs that were fed entirely pasture. Pasture is low on calories so they are lean and they grow slower (8 months or so to market weight) due to the pasture protein limits on lysine. Adding dairy gives the pigs lysine and with some types of dairy will give them calories too.

    Pasture/hay make up over 90% of our pigs’ diet. Dairy makes up about 7% more. The last 3% is a mix of vegetables we grow like turnips, beets, pumpkins, sunflowers and such as well as apple pomace, peanut butter, bread and other good things as available. A variety of other foods is god if you have them to expand their diet.

    See this list of articles for more on feeding.

  8. Bob says:

    Hi again, Walter,

    We were just given about 1,000 pounds of cheese (cheddar, Colby etc) for our 8 little pigs (30-40 lbs). The cheesemaker said it was deemed not fit for human consumption but that it is great for pigs. I was able to find space in our freezer for about 1/2 of the cheese and have a moderately cool place in the basement for the rest so hopefully it will last a while.

    Do you have any thoughts about how much cheese we can feed the pigs? I.e., any concerns about them getting too much protein, fat and/or salt in the cheese? They are on pasture and have access to quite a bit of whey and we give them some ground corn.

    Thank you!


    • I find cheese keeps pretty well without needing to use freezers. The point of making cheese in old times was to store milk. Parcel it out a bit at a time. I don’t have hard numbers from any tests but would stay certainly under 25%DMI. Fresh water access is important to deal with salt. Feeding it in the evening is ideal – that way they graze in the day.

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