Nihtilä farm

Nihtilän tilalta

Nihtilä farm

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.

Halmela goat farm

Meeting the growing demand for goat milk

Halmela Goat Farm, is run by Jonna and Eero Ukkola in Loppi. It is the second-largest goat farm in Finland. Currently, they have around 360 does (kuttu?) in milk production, with a total goat population of 600 individuals. The milk produced on the farm is processed into cheese by Juustoportti.

For a long time, Halmela Farm primarily focused on organic crop cultivation. However, with a generational transition, the entrepreneurial couple initially considered establishing a milking barn for cows, but after careful calculations, they changed their plans. At the same time, there was a growing demand for goat milk in Finland, so they decided to try their hand at goat farming.

In 2019, they started milking approximately a hundred does, and today, around 360 does are in milk production. The farm has invested in a carousel milking system designed for goats, and the feeding and bedding of the animals are managed with a feed wagon. The feed includes silage, grains, peas, and minerals. Additionally, water and salt licks are always available.

In addition to goat milk, Halmela Farm also produces goat meat. The farm has been actively involved in developing the goat meat market in collaboration with the Lamb Cooperative (Lammasosuuskunta).

Börknäs gård

From a beloved hobby to a profession

Börknäs Gård is an organic sheep farm established in 2016. The farm’s owner, Edvard Krooks, began farming on the property in 2010, and he officially took ownership late 2020 / early 2021.

The first sheep arrived on the farm in 2014, primarily as a hobby. However, it was the National Sheep Days in Kalajoki in 2016 that inspired Edvard to reconsider the farm’s future. The completion of a new lamb barn in 2022 allowed for an increase in the number of sheep. The well-being of the animals is enhanced by the bright greenhouse-style lamb barn. Currently, the farm is home to approximately 150 ewes.

Edvard also works as a trainer outside of the farm, and his son, Jacob Krooks, is actively involved in the daily farm work. Additional assistance is provided by the farm’s previous owner and other family members.

Growing up on a farm and engaging in farm work have always been part of Edvard’s life. The dream of a life “in harmony with nature” rather than confined to an office job became a reality with the addition of sheep to the farm.

During the summer, the farm’s ewes graze on traditional biotopes. The goal is to increase the number of these biotopes to produce pasture-raised meat for customers. The farm encourages people to consume responsibly and enjoy high-quality meat.

Sjögårds lamm

Conservating biodiversity and aiming for 100% self-sufficiency

Sjögårds Lamm is a farm managed by Kaj and Gun-Sofi, now in its ninth generation. Previously, the farm primarily cultivated crops, and a small flock of sheep was introduced in 2011 to manage the restored natural pastures. In the 1950s, the farm had kept cows, and the sheep were brought in to maintain the old pastureland once grazed by cows.

The farm transitioned to organic production in 2017 while expanding its operations. Currently, the farm is home to 130 ewes, and the goal is to produce all feed on-site to achieve complete self-sufficiency.

All sheep at Sjögård’s farm graze, with ewes on natural pastures and lambs on cultivated grass fields. The farm places a special emphasis on the conservation of biodiversity and maintaining biodiversity. Part of this effort involves the breeding of finnsheep, our native sheep breed.

The farm produces lamb products with one of our native breeds, also serving as a living gene bank. Native breeds have adapted to the local environment and have become endangered or even extinct in many cases as industrial farming shifted towards more highly bred hybrids and imported breeds.

Norrbacks farm

Results with rotational grazing and pasture mixes

Norrback Farms is located in Närpiö, Finland, and it has been managed by siblings Josefin Norrback (an agronomist) and Dennis Norrback (a Master of Business Administration) since 2021. The farm has been involved in sheep farming since the 1980s. Initially, it focused on dairy cattle, but in 2004, it transitioned to sheep farming. Farm’s fields have been in organic production since the late 1990s, and currently, all production is organic.

The farm has specialized in raising meat sheep breeds such as Texels, Dorsets, and crosses. Grazing is both a requirement of organic production but also a passion for the farm’s owners. They invest time and financial resources in proper grazing, which has had a positive impact on the quality of their production.

During the summer, the ewes graze on traditional biotopes, while the lambs are raised on grassy pastures. The farm uses rotational grazing, a method familiar from carbon farming, and uses diverse pasture mixes. Trained herding dogs assist in managing the grazing and caring for the animals.