First Sunflower 2012, Warm & Cold Whey

First Sunflower

Doug H. asked:
A friend has offered us her goat whey for our 3 pigs. We are in western Washington State. It is usually cool, but gets into the 90’s for a few weeks every summer. Is it OK to leave the whey in barrels, or do I need a walk-in to keep it refrigerated? How long will it last if kept unrefrigerated?

We don’t refrigerate ours. It doesn’t get that hot here, max of about 86°F, so our situation is not exactly the same. We also go through whey very quickly. Try it and see how it lasts for your situation.

If you’re concerned with the heat you might try sun shading it or using an insulated container, even foil-bubble-bubble-foil (FBBF) will make a difference in keeping it cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter.

Another trick is add some yogurt to the whey and mix it in well. The good bacteria in the yogurt help keep the dairy from spoiling in a way you don’t want and it improves the pig’s digestion. See these posts about yogurt.

Our whey doesn’t sit around very long so unless a pail of it gets set down somewhere and forgotten I almost never see spoilage. Even then it takes more than a week in hot weather. We go through about 1,500 to 1,800 gallons a day with deliveries running about every one to two days, sometimes a three day delivery delay depending on the cheese maker’s schedule. We currently have about 3,000 of tank capacity and about 4,000 gallons with troughs included. This means that sometimes the whey does last several days before being eaten. Since it is always flushed through the tanks and troughs within a few days we have no problems with it spoiling. Note that these numbers have changed over time depending on what is available from the cheese maker and how many tanks we have setup, etc so other blog posts will be different.

For us the cold of winter is more of an issue than the warmth of summer. We have to make sure the tanks and troughs have whey flow through them regularly or we can get freezing as it gets down to -20°F regularly and as low as -45°F. Sometimes we have to lift out chunks of ice from the troughs and thaw valves. Snow banks and the FBBF insulation both help. If I know I’m not going to have enough whey coming in I drain out and close down a tank, leaving the valve open, so it doesn’t freeze solid on me. See this post about how to unfreeze valves and tanks incase you ever have the miss-fortunate to have to deal with this.

You may also be interested in this post about clean out. The yogurt that accumulates at the bottom of the tanks is a real treat for the pigs and they’re very eager for it.

See this search pattern for feeding whey.

Outdoors: 82°F/63°F Sunny
Tiny Cottage: 75°F/67°F

Daily Spark: Ethics is the rational for not letting other people do things you’re afraid of.

About Walter Jeffries

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10 Responses to First Sunflower 2012, Warm & Cold Whey

  1. David Lloyd Sutton says:

    Like your photo. I planted Giant Russian Sunflowers using seed from a couple I grew last year, volunteers from someone’s previous seedings of the bed I got allocated. Also had the Ca. Wild Sunflower last year, which makes multiple flowers, about four or five inches across, producing tiny seeds, fast, totally different from the Russians with their immense single blossom and big seeds. Assiduously pulled the least vigorous plants this cycle, as my bed is dense-pack anyway. Seems that the Ca. Wilds are far more vigorous and fast growing, because I prove to have committed infanticide on all my Russkis. The leaves are almost identical, and so the plants pre-blossom are indistinguishable. Have a ten by five cloud of blossom crowning and surrounding my bed. Keeping my apartment full of sunflower bouquets and getting scratched by the stems as I reach for my current flood of ripe tomatos and green beans. Live and learn.

    On another subject, Walter. I’ve read that Tamworths are famous as good mothers and grazers/foragers, though perhaps a bit lean (cat hipped). What were you looking for out of that injection into your stock, and why are you as yet unimpressed by the results? My tenuous back to the land plans aim at Missouri, and I was thinking a dark, lean hog with good grazing characteristics might be ideal for a climate that is quite humid and hot seasonally. Also, do you do your biopsy test for boar taint before you purchase new stock?

    • I actually wasn’t looking for the Tamworths. They came as a bundle with the Large Black. Another farmer was unable to feed their animals and desperately needed someone to take them and get cash right away so they wouldn’t lose everything. We took in their pig herd, shuffling around our herds so we could quarantine the new group in our north pastures.

      Tamworth is something we have as a minor genetic component in our other herds but I did not have experience with pure bred or even high mix on them. Our other pigs are primarily Yorkshire with Large Black and Berkshire plus a pinch of Tamworth, Glouster Old Spot and Hampshire plus perhaps something else.

      These Tamworths’s meat is not as rich colored as our other pigs nor is the flavor as sweet but I wonder if this will change after they’ve been on our farm for a while. In six months we’ll get to find out more.

      You are right that they tend to be more lean and they’re much slower growing than our other lines. I would not call the Tamworths better mothers. They are okay as mothers. They’re also not as good grazers but I don’t know how much of that is because we have been selecting for pasture-ability for so many years and how much is that these Tamworths had been getting grain (whole barley) before they came here. Unfortunately pigs can not digest whole unsoaked or uncooked barley so they were starving on that expensive diet. Follow the link above to see an example of their manure just after they got here.

      It took them a while to figure out eating hay but they really liked the whey. After a few months they recovered from the starvation diet of barley and got into good condition. Now they look fine on the pasture and whey diet they get here at our farm. I’m pleased with how they have recovered. They are also starting to graze better. I hope that by next winter they’ll do well on the hay too.

      They came here in the dead of winter from an unfortunate situation when things were harshest so they really didn’t have a good introduction – that is to say I didn’t get to see them at their best in winter. It will be interesting to see how they do over the summer, fall and next winter. Watching the litters I’m gradually getting to know their genetics. It is an interesting process taking in new animals, figuring out their genetics, etc.

      All the biopsy work happened after arrival because it was a bit of an emergency situation where they had to leave the other farm immediately. In fact it would have been much better for them if they had been able to get here a week earlier. Due to this I couldn’t wait to for niceties.

      Shortly after they arrived we also got a pure bred Berkshire boar, Spitz. I need to do a post about him sometime…

  2. Do you mind sharing your thoughts on the economics of feeding whey? I’m curious how you were able to get the creamery to deliver to your farm and the amount of infrastructure needed for whey holding and delivery. I was just researching a creamery in Seattle that apparently drains their whey into the city sewer!

  3. Erin says:

    We have been raising grass fed beef and lamb for our family, and have just started on pigs this year when we stumbled upon your website and learned that pigs can be pastured too. When I went to talk to our friends who run a farm market nearby, to ask for imperfect veggies to feed our piglets, the owner was very concerned that we were making a mistake feeding them on pasture- she said giving vegetables and fruits before they are 100 lbs. or is too soon, and could kill them. So I have been looking around your website and didn’t see a post that discussed how you go from nursing, to weaning, to your pasture/veggie/dairy diet for the piglets. Are there some vegetables you avoid, or wait to give them until they are older? Should you be careful to limit amounts of certain veggies? Can they wean right to pasture?
    Thank You!

    • Your friend is incorrect. Our pigs get pasture, dairy, vegetables and fruit from when their piglets and start nibbling on stuff they see their mothers eating. They thrive on this diet. See the Pigs page for more details about the diet we feed and how we manage our pigs.

      There are a lot of erroneous myths and bad information. I’ve explored many of these and found little truth to most of them. Sometimes there is a glint of truth behind a myth but it has become lost in time as they game of telephone distorts what is real.

      Use the search box at right with the term weaning and you’ll find lots of information about what we do that works. Also explore the tag cloud below that, in particular see the Feeding section and see the Favorite articles list and the most comment list.

  4. Colby says:

    Excellent postlove the sunflower pic

  5. Erin says:

    Thank you, Walter,
    My other concern is that the piglets have nose rings in, which they had when we purchased them. Do you think they can get enough of what they need from their grazing if they cannot root? They are frantic when they see us coming, they are so eager to get whatever scraps or milk we have for them each evening… so I am wondering if that is normal, or if they are not getting enough from the pasture.

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