The Koskiniva farm in Siikalatva, Northern Ostrobothnia, was established in the 18th century and has now been run by the same family for over 100 years.
The farm was bought by my great-grandfather and I took up the reigns in 2009, says Jukka Ojantakanen. It’s now a full-time occupation for me and my wife Liisa, we take on occasional seasonal workers, and like all the dairy farmers in Siikalatva we’ve been supplying milk to Valio since we started.
Keeping a dairy farm is something that runs in the family. This is our home and we’ve never really considered any other profession. It’s something you grow up with and while our three children are all under 10 years-old they may well find they feel the same.It helps that we all love animals!
Early to bed, early to rise
Our working day kicks off early and weekends are no exception.We usually start by cleaning out the barn at around 6 am, feeding and milking the cows, and checking carefully on the calves.
In the summer we then head for the fields, where we grow our own grain.
A successful autumn harvest calls for hard work and meticulous planning. Milk production in Finland is based on high-quality silage and we cut grass three times during the summer to produce grass silage for the cattle, while also feeding them on our grain.
Nature’s way and our cows’ well-being
Cows turning grass silage and other locally sourced foods into valuable milk is I think a truly fascinating process, says Jukka with real enthusiasm.
The Koskiniva farm has 120 milking cows and thanks to automatic milking systems they live an increasingly independent life.
Every cow in Finland has a name. Each has a personality of its own and in a way we treat them like members of the family.
As long as their basic needs are cared for, cows are happy and placid animals. They lie in their stall, graze when possible, ruminate, and go to be milked when they want to. We have two milking robots available 24/7 so they’re not tied to a fixed daily schedule.
We lay out tastier feed to attract the cows to the robots,which they visit on average three times a day.A laser scanner checks how the cow positions itself and a pneumatically operated arm attaches the milk cluster.
Automatic milking systems are very common in Finland and the whole process is computer controlled.Finnish dairy farmers are very familiar with the state-of-the-art systems and technology also helps reduce labour costs.