Concrete Whey Trough Pads

Pouring concrete pad around south whey trough.

Pigs, like chickens, horses, cows and sheep, often pee while they drink. This results in the area right around the whey troughs being very muddy, especially in the fall and spring when there is extra wetness from the weather. I slope it, berm it, drain it and provide rocks but it is still a muddy mess.

This fall while we were pouring concrete for the knee walls of the new greenhouse I got the bright idea to pour a concrete pad around the the troughs. Every time one pours concrete one must order extra. While it is a little more expensive to order the over run, it can be a disaster not to have enough concrete when you need it. Thus the 10% extra rule. Then if your calculations were right and the bracing worked such that the forms didn’t flex you end up with too much concrete. What to do with it?!? Well, I always have a side project ready to use the extra so it isn’t wasted. Thus the hexagon form that became a mystery photo.

Pigs watching concrete cure.

On this final pour of the year I used the concrete overage for pouring the pads around the troughs. Using a stick I drew long, deep radial lines from the trough out to the back edge of the pad. These act as drain lines to move water off the pads and away from the troughs. The lines also act as weak points in the concrete so that should I decide to move the pad I can break it up along those lines and move sections, one at a time, using the tractor.

To keep the pigs back and out of the fresh concrete I strung up some electric fencing. Thus the crowd watching the concrete cure. What they really want is to get to the whey – we fed them some extra apple pumace and whey in another area to keep them distracted.

Now that the concrete pads are cured the pigs are back drinking from the whey troughs. I think they are happier. They’re no longer standing in knee deep freezing cold mud. They pee off the back of the pads – I made the pads just large enough for the large pigs. As an added bonus, the concrete wears the pig and sheep toenails through the winter when the rocks of the pasture are covered in deep snows.

Outdoors: 29°F/26°F Cloudy, Ice
Farm House: 59°F/43°F
Tiny Cottage: 67°F/57°F

About Walter Jeffries

Tinker, Tailor...
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10 Responses to Concrete Whey Trough Pads

  1. Patrick says:

    We have just begun to feed our pigs whey from a local cheese maker, because of your inspiring suggestions. Three questions: 1. do you give the pigs water along with the whey or just the whey. Our whey doesn’t have salt in it so no problems with ODing on it. 2. We are feeding whey, haylage, a bit of cheese and some root veggies and slowly weaning them off grain. Do you think the whey, pasture and haylage is enough, with the occasional cheese scraps, veggies? 3. Our whey tanks seem to freeze, are you insulating your tanks at all? We use 250 gallon pallet tanks. Any thoughts on insulation and keeping it from freezing (we are in RI, so we are tropical compared to you)?
    Thanks for all of you great ideas.

  2. Patrick,

    1) Our pigs have free access to water in addition to the whey but they drink a lot less water since they drink so much whey. In the winter they often eat snow instead of walking to the water.

    2) Yes. Watch their condition, growth rate and health. Variety is the spice of life as well as being a healthy diet.

    3) Yes, our tanks are insulated. One is fully insulated with foil-bubble-bubble-foil (FBBF) insulation. That one is also buried in a snow bank. The others are insulated with the FBBF on the north side, the windward side, as well as having some snow insulation primarily on that side. A small tank is more likely to freeze than a big one. Our small tank is 750 gallons and the big ones are 1,025 gallons. When a tank is low I feed it out before night fall to keep it from freezing. I would like to finish insulating the two bigger tanks – on the to-do list. Since you are in RI as well as at a lower altitude I expect you will be fine. Keep an eye on it thought. A frozen tank would be no fun. A trough water heater may be a wise investment for very cold nights.



  3. Janice says:

    Oh my lordy! When I first looked at that pic I thought the dump truck was tipped over or plunged into the ground or something aweful like that! So why are the wheels up in the air like that? So bizzare!

  4. Those back wheels way up in the air do look rather funny and more than a bit confusing. We asked the driver, Mike, about them. He explained that if his truck is over weight for the number of axles he can put down those wheels, using a powerful hydraulic cylinder, thus giving the truck one more axle to carry the load and distributing the weight more. That cuts his gas mileage but reduced the damage to the road.

  5. Dick and Jane says:

    Congratz on one more step into the new home. It is a process. We built ours ten years ago and are still building. Some people see the ongoing construction as a negative but i like it. we are doing it right. we are Doing it ourselves. We pay for it out of pocket rather than having a big loan. There is a tremendous satisfaction. Well be here for the rest of our lives. One thing is I wish I had documented our building like you are doing and I wish I had started sooner. It is so great to see you working with your kids. Keep it up!

  6. Anonymous says:

    Walter, do you ever have a pig jump or get pushed into the whey? From the vantage point of the picture it looks like they stoop pretty low to suck at the whey. How deep is the feeder? Thanks again for keeping your blog current
    it is very enjoyable.

  7. Erik,

    Yes, sometimes they’ll go into the whey. Usually it is their own choice but on occasion I’ve seen one get pushed. Since the whey is free fed and always available there isn’t much group pressure so generally it is pretty calm around the trough.

    We placed large rocks in the bottom of the troughs and bathtubs so that if a pig falls or gets pushed in it is able to get footing on the stones and jump back out. That works perfectly.



  8. LJB says:

    Walter, you’ve mentioned before about the animals who pee while drinking. Have you ever seen a horse do that? I never have, not while drinking or eating. I’ve seen sheep and cows do it, in fact it drives me nuts when the sheep start eating and pee on someone else’s hay. I guess that is a human-as-manager fault though. Anyway, I would be curious about actual experiences with horses peeing while they drink. (Boy, does that sound weird or what! LOL)

    And a big congrats on power to the new house. I hadn’t realized you’ve been living there so long! Woo-hoo!

  9. LJB, I am pretty sure I’ve seen horses do it too. I don’t have a huge amount of experience with horses but it was at a friend of ours where my wife was taking riding lessons that I remember seeing a male horse peeing while eating. -Walter

  10. Pingback: Yard Fountain Construction, Part 2 Staining the Concrete T |

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