Now That’s Heavy

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.

Inside the tanker truck in case you were curious what they look like inside.  The white stick hanging from the top is the spray ball used for washdown.

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.

Pigs love heavy cream.  If the line is too long, just climb over everybody and jump into the trough.


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.

Never ones to be left out, the cats were underfoot when I disconnected the hose from the tanker.  Normally cats avoid getting soaked, but these knuckleheads just stood there perfectly happy to get drenched in cream.  

3 thoughts on “Now That’s Heavy”

  1. Two weeks later we’ve only used about 700 gallons. A little goes a long way… So far I’m still able to draw it out with a pump, although it is really stiff, probably even lower viscosity than honey. This is in a 3000 gallon tank, so my guess is that the last 1000 will be mostly solids and require a lot of work recirculating whey through the system to break up the clots.

    As expected the manure turned soupy with the introduction of the heavy cream, but the pigs’ digestive systems have recalibrated for it now and they are thriving.

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