Butter Pigs

Herd of Pigs Dining on Butter

Last week the cheese and butter company that brings us whey had a little problem where a batch of butter went out of spec. It is still good butter but no longer acceptable for the market – It got a degree too warm. They had to toss the whole lot – over 1,000 gallons. We got about 200 gallons of that batch. The pigs have been enjoying it immensely. In the cold days of winter the extra energy in the butter fat is wonderful for them. It gives them extra calories to keep warm through this cold snap we call winter. We’ll space the feeding of the butter out over weeks, perhaps all of February.

The gentleman who delivers the whey was telling me this morning that the butter sells for a dollar an ounce. Wow! Okay… 16 ounces in a pound… 8 pounds in a gallon… That’s $25,000 worth of premium butter the herd is getting! The total lost batch is worth $128,000. Ouch!

I don’t eat that well! Unfortunately I buy butter on sale. C’est la vie. Gotta get a goat. This is a premium product though and it gets shipped all over the world – I hope the pigs are enjoying and appreciating their high class meal. Now if only they had some bread to go with that butter!

Grower Pigs with Butter Barrel

If you ever happen to luck into a thousand gallons of butter, be prepared with lots of five gallon pails. They are perfect for molding the butter into easily transportable chunks for feeding to the pigs. It takes a lot of pails. Another trick is to pour the butter, it came warm and as a liquid in the truck, into 60 gallon plastic barrels. The grower pigs are small enough to poke their heads into the barrels and nibble off some butter. Wide mouth barrels are even easier. It takes several weeks, maybe a month or more, for forty growers to go through the 500 lbs or so of butter in a barrel. For a real challenge, slide a 500 lb barrel of butter down the driveway without losing control. I made it.

What ever you do, do not put the butter into the whey tank to be piped to feeding tubs. It clogs the pipes, feeds too fast (it’s rich food) at first while still liquid and worst of all chills and floats on the surface of the whey in the tank. Lesson learned. Fortunately we only put about 70 gallons of butter into the whey tank before switching to the pails and barrels. Next time I’ll have more pails and barrels ready.

Of note, if you feed your pigs a lot of butter, be sure to give them as much hay as they want as well. The butter alone will give them the runs, diarrhea, with all that fat. If fact, if you give pigs too much butter they can turn inside out – not a pretty sight a prolapsed pig. It’s great energy food for them, and they need it in the winter, but it is important to balance it with fiber, carbon and other nutrients. A pig does not live by butter alone…

Outdoors: -1°F/-7°F Partially Sunny, Very windy
Farm House: 52°F/46°F six logs
Tiny Cottage: 43°F/35°F braces on scaffolding for attic