Our farms are located in the Danish highlands of Central Jutland within 25 kilometers of Them Andelsmejeri, which we jointly own and supply milk to. We are 13 farms in total, of which 6 are organic. We all care deeply about the well-being of our animals and we know how to make them thrive.
A number of the farms have been handed down between generations. Some have even been associated with the dairy since it was founded in 1888.
Them Andelsmejeri has six organic milk producers: Mads, Gert, Niels, Thomas, Arne and Niels Peter. We collect the organic milk on the farms in our own tankers and transport them for cheesemaking.
Both the dairy and the farmers take pride in meeting all the required organic standards. For example, the cows graze for almost half the year, and all the feed is cultivated without the use of fertilizers or pesticides.
Jørn Mortensen is one of Them Andelsmejeri’s 13 farmers. Together with his wife Inger, son Emil and daughter-in-law Sanne, he runs his farm Nørskovgård, 12 km from Them. The family lives together, eats together and works together every single day. They have a common approach to good farming and know what it takes keep their cows happy and healthy.
“From the moment the calves are born, they must be nurtured and cared for. As a farmer, the very best thing is to have healthy animals that thrive,” says Jørn Mortensen. He inherited Nørskovgård from his father Frode Mortensen, who bought the farm back in 1944. When Jørn retires one day, his son Emil is ready to take over the farm.
“When the animals thrive, you get good milk, from which good cheese can be made. Everything we do to ensure the well-being of our cows affects the quality of the cheeses that are produced at our dairy,” adds Emil. “It gives us satisfaction every day to produce some of the best cheeses and be part of something we can be proud of.”
Jørn sees it as a great advantage to be part of a small local dairy rather than a supplier to a huge company. “We’re included in the decision making and the CEO is never further away than a phone call. We feel that it’s our dairy, and it is very motivating and satisfying to be able to follow progress closely” he says.
Nørskovgård is 200 hectares (2 km2), with a herd that consists of 185 cows. Jørn became a member of the cooperative in 1969, when Funder Dairy was closed. Everything is neat and tidy, no matter where you look. They also grow the feed themselves and, as they both emphasise: “This way, we know where the feed comes from and that the quality is how we would like it to be.”
The cows are kept in a large, modern barn with a good indoor climate, with plenty of natural light and fresh air. Jørn and Emil have also invested in milking robots that are available for the cows round the clock. This has many benefits. “The cows do not have to wait for us – they can be milked whenever they feel like it. Also, we no longer have to get up at five every morning. Now we can stay in bed until six. And we’re already finished with work by ten in the evening,” laughs Emil.
Neither Jørn nor Emil would trade their farming lives for anything else. “It’s fantastic to experience nature and to take a walk through the barn, looking at how the calves are getting on. We can freely plan our everyday life and occasionally, we can even take a small break at our summer cottage,” says Jørn.
The family also prefers to spend their spare time in the open air. Taking a trip to Copenhagen “is nice,” but to hunt or just have fun with friends is even better. The circle of friends is mostly made up of farmers from Them Andelsmejeri, but also people with a completely different background. “We have a lot of friends who aren’t involved in agriculture. It’s not important for us whether they smell of cow or not,” says Jørn.