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

About Walter Jeffries

Tinker, Tailor...
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5 Responses to Butter Pigs

  1. pablo says:

    These are all good points that I will remember when the pigs and butter parts of my life intersect.

  2. EllaJac says:

    Well, the pigs and butter parts of my life HAVE intersected, and I’m glad for this bit of reassurance. :) I certainly haven’t acquired 200 gallons, but I do occasionally get a gallon of HEAVY organic raw cream, and make my own butter. Sometimes I mess it up, and the pigs have gotten it. They’ve also gotten dairy ‘accidents’ in the form of watery chocolate milk, soured cream, past-dated milk, etc. Walter, how do you figure appropriate serving size? My 2 pigs will eat constantly and forever, I’m guessing. They have a hay house (which they eat from), but I feed them twice daily with various things, from grain/protein mix, to whey/bread, etc. I’ve read on your blog that an ‘average’ (?) pig can survive on 3.5 gallons of whey per day… I may be misremembering that. How do you figure the high-fat rations?

  3. Ellajac, I don’t have numbers for you on the fat. We don’t usually get butter either so I haven’t had a chance to observe it enough yet. In the books they do have proportions for feed formulas but I don’t have numbers on the butter or heavy cream to convert.

    One simple thing is watch their manure. I have a good photo I took the other day of good manure. I’ll post that soon. Basically it was granular rather than runny and somewhat fiberous but not dry constipated.

  4. EllaJac says:

    Walter, Hmm, that leads me to a question I’m not sure how to pose. My pigs look about as big as the ones in your ‘butter pigs’ picture. They were born late september. My boar, however, does not have the same profile as the boar in your photo. Instead of bulging out, his backside has a saggy but shriveled area, which I assumed was because he was yet young. Yesterday I noticed (quite to my astonishment) that the other necessary male part seems quite in working order; he was not interacting with the gilt at all, but looks like he knows what to do with her when the time comes. I’m so glad I’m not a gilt. Anyways, perhaps I’ve gotten him too fat and his rear parts just don’t stick out? I didn’t think that was the case, and it’s MUCH warmer here than at your place, so he’s not trying to keep them toasty.
    Any thoughts? *red face*

  5. Hmm… Interesting question. Is it possible that your boar is a barrow – that is to say he was castrated and has no testicles? He could still become aroused.

    Another distinct possibility is that he is a crypto-orchid boar, that is he has undescended testicles. They are usually sterile but typically have all the hormones of the boar. We had a boar that had one crypto-orchid testicle. We castrated the one testicle that was descended but he was quite sexually active, more so than a barrow with no testicles.

    Do you have a good photo of his scrotum? Piggy porn, I know, but is in the interest of science. Email it to me at walterj@sugarmtnfarm.com and perhaps I can tell.

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