This morning the dispatcher at a milk bottling plant asked to stop by with a 4,000 gallon load. Based on previous conversations I was expecting to get a tanker of near expiration milk, but instead I got a load of 40% Heavy Cream.
Most folks who’ve been to the farm know that cheese whey is a cornerstone to our pig program, for a few reasons. It is a locally available and free food source, so it makes good sense environmentally in terms of carbon and nitrogen cycling and it makes sense economically. It provides the protein boost to allow us to remove soy from the grain ration, to reduce overall grain requirements, and to increase the pigs’ pasture and hay intake (think paleo pigs). And, of course I should mention that pigs love anything dairy. We’ve been feeding whey since 2011, but occasionally we’ve scored bonus loads of milk or cream. Whey is pretty dilute stuff, with about 1/4-1/2 the feed value of skim milk, so we’re always glad to get a batch of milk in the tanks.
Our pigs regularly drink 2,000+ gallons of whey each week, but heavy cream is a different thing entirely because it is so calorically dense. 4,000 gallons of cream works out to 52.5 million kcals. Technically that’s enough energy to bring a liter of water from absolute zero to a temperature 3x hotter than the core of the sun (how’s that for a good example of a bad use of high school physics?). For reference, that’s also equivalent to 17 tons of feed corn, 600,000 bananas, or 23,000 pounds of Doritos. Roughly enough calories to bring about 45 pigs from weaning to market weight.
Now I’ve got to figure out how to use this stuff. It is so thick that I can only dispense it using a 2″ trash pump. Even 4″ pipes plug up under gravity flow. I’m going to have to feed this out over some time. My plan is to continue feeding whey, using it as a carrier for the cream by circulating whey through the cream tanks. Whether or not I can do this and avoid having the cream set up as a solid brick of butter remains to be seen.