Lower Whey Tanks
Our pig’s diet consists of about 90% pasture and hay depending on the season plus about 7% dairy. The remainder is apples, pumpkins, beets, turnips, mangels, sunflowers, sunchokes and other veggies. Occasionally we get a little boiled barley (high in protien) from a local beer pub and a little day old bread from the local bakery. The latter makes a great treat for training pigs to load for market day. The dairy complements the dietary values of the pasture and hay making for a virtually complete diet for our pigs by providing calories and an important protein, lysine. Additionally the dairy gives a sweet taste to the fat and makes it have a firm consistency and be very white.
Whey Tank Strapped and Cleaning
For us the dairy consists of primarily whey as well as the occasional load of milk, cream, butter and cheese from a local dairy and cheese maker. Whey is a by product of their making cheese and butter. By connecting the cheese maker back to the farm these nutrients get recycled rather than discarded down the chaos slope.
Whey Tank Churner Cleanout on Valve
I make yogurt in five gallon pails which I add to the tanks to culture them. Over time cream, chunks of butter and yogurt solids can accumulate in the tank. This does not flow out very readily so we made a gadget that allows us to churn up the bottom of the tank while allowing the resulting suspended highly nutritious solids to flow out to the troughs.
Closeup of Churner
Originally we just stock a piece of rod up the valve and caught the solids in a bucket. This was inefficient and took a lot of time. The problem was it was difficult to keep the mixture churning while also having the pipe connected. The cleanout churner Tee solves this quite neatly. The churner is threaded pipe fittings formed into a Tee. The hose that goes to the pig feeding troughs plugs into the bottom o the Tee, the Tee plugs into the tank where the hose normally attaches and a long piece of rebar (on the right) with a gasket is inserted into the narrow fitting on the Tee. We then turn the crank of rebar, which is squiggly shaped on the other end in the tank, to stir up the solids in the whey tank. The solids break up, mix with the liquid whey and flow down the flexible pipe to the delight of the pigs. They look forward to these special meals of tasty, rich cream, butter and yogurt solids.
The large 4″ white pipes are to let us fill troughs that are far away from the tanks. Years ago we had used 1″ pipe, which clogged a lot. Then we upgraded to 2″ pipe which was much better. But for very long runs the 4″ drain pipe is best. Time to time we pour a bucket of hot water down to melt out any butter – especially important in the winter. The 4″ pipe also makes good piping for water – it is wide enough to not plug.
The other day Will and I put the yellow binding straps on the tanks. The east tank had been gradually sliding eastward. I didn’t want to see it drop into the south sorting pen so when the west tank was full and the east tank was empty, by design, we strapped the tanks together and rachetted the east one westward. It took two years for the east tank to slide eight inches down hill – less than glacial to be sure. I’ll leave the straps on – cheap insurance on a pair of 1,000 gallon tank that costs that many dollars each.
The keen eye will note one other detail. The valves of the tanks have electric heaters, insulation and waterproofing on them. In the winter these are critical or the metal of the valve ends up being a heat sink that freezes the bottom front of the tank. Even with that on the coldest days we sometimes have to use hot water and a ram rod to open the valves. In the winter snow banks on the north side lift the cold winds up and over the tanks.
Outdoors: 49째F/29째F Drizzle
Tiny Cottage: 68째F/61째F