Herd health veterinarian, research and development specialist, and lead of the Valio Health Team. Kristiina Sarjokari has worn many hats in her time. All of her work has always focused on the cow.
Our herd health veterinary specialist works at Valio in tasks related to animal health, welfare and promotion of productivity. Kristiina Sarjokari is the force that gets all this done, with connections to Valio people, the cooperatives, veterinarians, partners and other stakeholders.
In her daily work, she promotes farm animal health by trying to find best practices and by giving advice and help to farms that are struggling. What’s key is staying up to date with what’s happening in the field with diseases and welfare research, and to start promoting the correct things.
“Animal welfare is not only the thing that leads to high quality milk, it is also linked to human welfare, since the less you need to medicate the animals, the more it slows down antibiotic resistances from forming. Moreover, herd health and welfare also contribute directly to the farmers’ personal work stress”, says Kristiina.
We promote animal welfare through measures such as a sustainability bonus, which is paid to those of our farms that commit to voluntary measures that improve animal welfare. From 2021, all Valio farms have been included in the sustainability bonus.
To demonstrate the welfare of our animals, we have chosen the Health Care Register for Finnish cattle herds, NASEVA, to be our tool. We promote animal welfare with veterinarians’ annual healthcare visits, which as used to draft farm-specific plans for corrective and development targets. There are different strength and weaknesses in all animal welfare monitoring systems, and none of them are perfect. Valio chose NASEVA instead of, e.g. Welfare Quality, due to its varied feature set and development tools. NASEVA also includes an assessment of calf health, which is a feature not present in most competing systems.
She is driven by sustainable milk production and transparency, as well as the experience of meaning in her work.
“Nature, for me, is an important value and a source of wellbeing. I have a sense that my work is important for creating the kind of world we leave behind for future generations. How can we minimise the negative effects of production and keep creating good food products? I think that animal-based products need to be produced in a way that you can feel good about using in the future.”
Kristiina has spent seven years at Valio and she is thankful for its team spirit, challenging work and multidisciplinary research.
“Valio is a company where we work together. The way we work allows everyone a lot of opportunities to learn in both their own work and from experts in communication, marketing and product development, among others. It is a joy to be a part of a team of top professionals.”
Cows like to play – they race, hop around and push each other playfully. Outdoor time lets the cows be more active, which increases their appetite. Check out the Mustaniemi farm's cows play outside in winter here.