We are now up to 12 pigs. Buying a ton of feed every 3 weeks is getting expensive. I have a few questions about feeding milk.
*What do you put it in? What type of manger?
We then use a system of valves and pipes to gravity feed the dairy from the tanks down to various 300 gallon troughs, bathtubs (60 gallons) and half barrels (20 gallons) where the pigs of the various herds come to drink. The other primary food for our pigs is pasture in the warm months and hay in the cold months.
*How do you transport it? I have access to either plastic barrels or 250 gallon liquid storage totes.
The dairy company brings it to us on a tanker truck most every day. They are very close to us. The reason we have extra capacity beyond the daily amount they bring is that sometimes they do larger batches. The extra bulk tank capacity plus the capacity of all the feeders makes it so we can handle surges in their cheese and butter production.
The dairy supplies us with three tanks which are about 1,000 gallons each. They gravity feed from their truck to the tanks between one to three loads per day. Each load is about 700 gallons of whey, milk, cream and sometimes warm liquid butter. The butter requires special handling as it will solidify as it cools.
I built a road that allows them to get up to the tanks mentioned above which are placed up on the hill so that we can then gravity feed down to the feeders.
We also get cheese and milk at times from other dairies and cheese-makers. Usually we go to them and pickup in our van. We can carry about 4,000 lbs at a time. On a few occasions they have had very large loads of cheese and have delivered it in tractor trailer trucks. I have a set of forks for our tractor for unloading the big trucks.
On a smaller scale you could use 50 to 300 gallon barrels/tanks in the back of a van or pickup truck. Plumb the barrels so you are not moving them when full which would be about 400 lbs. Go to the dairy, pipe the milk into the barrels. Fill the barrels ALL THE WAY FULL - this is very important so they don't shift your load on the road. Cap the barrels. The load should be distributed and secure. Don't overload your vehicle. Drive home carefully. Drain the barrels into feeders or storage tanks. Rinse and repeat.
*How do you get it from the transporting container to the feeding container?
Black plastic polyethylene pipes with valves. We're in the north country so it is critical to have the system be self-draining in the winter.
*How much do you feed per pig?
About 3.6 gallons per pig per hundred weight. There is some seasonal variance. That is measured over several large herds of pigs, several seasons, on pasture/hay and with mixed ages from weaners up to 1,000 lb adults. Don't take that number too seriously. Instead I would suggest free feeding and seeing how much your pigs eat. Also feed a variety of other foods for a balanced diet.
*How do you store it, or do you pick it up every day?
The dairy is delivered to us several times a day. It is stored in the thousand gallon bulk tanks. We live in a cool climate where it rarely goes above 70Â°F so this works well. You can insulate the tanks so that in a hot climate the whey should be good for many days. We insulate our tank against the bitter cold of the winter to prevent the whey from freezing. Part of our insulation is simply how we setup the tanks such that the winter wind packs the snow against the tanks creating a deep snow drift. We also use foil-bubble-bubble-foil insulation as needed. Different environments will have different challenges.
Note that it is good
to have the dairy age a bit, curdle if you will. It turns to yogurt. I throw the occasional bit of yogurt into the tanks to jump start them if I think they aren't curdling enough. This makes the dairy more easily digestible by the pigs.
Whole milk alone can produce very fat pigs. There was a fellow who bought piglets from us last spring. Ergo his pigs have the same genetics as ours. I met him at the butcher in the fall when we were both delivering pigs for slaughter. His pigs, which he had fed whole jersey milk as their primary diet, had about 4" to 6" of back fat. That's great if you're looking to produce lard. Our pigs which are on the diet I mentioned above have about 3/4" to 1" of back fat and sometimes less. That's what I find ideal as my customers are more interested in well marbled meat than fat. Currently, with the market I have, to raise extra lard just costs me more in production and in processing costs since butchering is based on the hanging weight which includes that lard.
*How do you go about approaching a dairy? Do you just show up and ask for an office. I'd call but there are 2 near me and I don't know the name of either one, so can't just look up the number.
Call and find out who to talk too about this. Call and speak with that person. Be professional. They need reliability. They need to know how much you can take, how often and how long you're going to do it. They need to know if you're seasonal or year round.
*How much do you pay for dump milk?
$0. The milk, whey, butter, cream, yogurt, cheese is free. I built the infrastructure to handle it (road, tank bases, piping, valves, troughs, etc) and I maintain it (always being ready for whey, keeping the driveway in good repair, plowing in the winter, adding gravel as needed, feeding the pigs, etc). The cheese makers and dairies are not allowed to dump the dairy. They need a reliable place to get rid of it. Finding a friendly farmer of compatible size is the most cost effective method for them. They've been doing this for decades. At this point we're their largest farm. They take to a few others too. It's a good deal for both the dairy and the pig farmer.
I know lots of people who raise pigs, but none of them feed milk, so we have no idea how it is done. I'd appreciate any and all advice.
See these posts from my blog which show some of our setup:
On my blog you'll find other tips about how we raise our pigs. Everybody's situation is different so everything we do may not work right for you but it will give you some ideas.
There are a lot of other good potential foods. Local bakeries often have excess dated bread they need to get rid of. This can be very high quality food. Small beer brewers in your area such as pubs might be looking for a farmer to take their boiled barley (they boil off the sugars to ferment for beer leaving high protein barley solids). Local markets may have veggies - check health food stores in particular. Cider making companies have the left over apple pulp (pomace) which is great food. In the fall farm stands may have extra pumpkins and other veggies free for the taking if you'll haul them away.
Other things that we produce on farm for our pigs are chicken eggs (mostly to supplement protein for weaners) and extra veggies we grow (pumpkins, beets, turnips, sunflowers, squash, etc). These are excellent feeds for the late fall and winter when the pastures get low. A funny thing with beets is the red kind result in purple snow when we turn the pigs in to those areas. After eating them the pigs all look like their wearing lipstick and they pee purple ink.
I would strongly suggest avoiding post consumer wastes. Focus on pre-consumer foods. This means use foods that have not yet touched human lips, that have not been scraped off of plates. The primary issue here is avoiding disease. A secondary issue is that plate scrapings may have stuff in them that you don't want being fed to your pigs like broken glass, forks, knives, etc.
Sugar Mountain Farm
in the mountains of Vermont