Nihtilä farm

Nihtilän tilalta

Safe, healthy and productive life cycle for the sheep

At Nihtilä farm in Kärkölä in Salpausselkä’s mountain landscape, the land has been cultivated since the 16th century. With the change of generations, the farm passed to veterinarian Nina Nihtilä in 2021.

On the farm, I produce, among other things, malt grain, bread wheat, fodder peas and fodder silage. In addition, the farm has economic forest, diversity fields, protection zones and voluntarily protected nature conservation areas. In sheep production, I invest in quality production of lamb with three-breed crosses.

Currently, Texel, Rygja and their crosses with Gotland sheep are used as mother breeds, Texel and Dorper are used as father breeds. In the breeding work, I invest in a durable, medium-sized ewe with good milk production, which is good at using feed and has good mothering qualities.

The heterosis effect is maximized by sufficiently varied breed selection but I also ensure that the general appearance of the herd is uniform to simplify feeding and grouping.

The animals are part of the production monitoring and I do a lot of planned preventive work to ensure the good health of the sheep. My farm also has a collaboration with the University of Helsinki’s animal hospital, which means that veterinary students can get to know the sheep and sheep veterinary medicine.

The lambs graze on clover hedgerows and do not return to already grazed areas during the summer. I try to time the lambing so that I wean the lambs before the grazing season, which minimizes parasite pressure on the pasture.

I aim to get lambs ready for slaughter straight from pasture in mid-summer at around 4.5 months of age. No concentrate is given on the pasture, but a diversity of different plants through the cooperative’s own forage seed mixture, clean pastures and the crossbreeding of beef lambs guarantee good growth.

The ewes and breeding rams take care of nature conservation dykes and protected areas as well as landscape maintenance on a small scale. The border collies help with moving the animals between different pastures and in the work during the stable season.

In addition to farm work, I work as a veterinarian for Lammasmaailma Oy’s quality assurance program Lammhälsa2020, where I provide health care and counseling for sheep. In addition, I sometimes work as an inspection veterinarian at Finland’s largest sheep slaughterhouse, Vainio, and I will start a doctoral thesis on how the cleanliness of the sheep affects the quality and safety of the meat.