Sustainability and tradition – Mountain Cattle

Going on a safari does not have to mean hardships in the wilderness searching for wild animals. There are traditional breeds of farm animals that are easy to catch a glimpse of around Jämtland. Driving around you are most likely to see the Mountain Cattle on some farms keeping to the traditional breeds. They are especially suited for a mountain climate. One farm keeping mountain cattle is Brunkulla farm just outside the city Östersund, Sweden, offering exotic Mountain Cattle Safaris.

“It’s a hot Saturday in July. The farmer Niklas goes into the field to tend to his herd of cows. They are the critically endangered Swedish mountain cattle breed, “Fjällko”. The breed is a cultural heritage in Jämtland. It is sometimes said that Jämtland is where the Fjällko originated.
Niklas tells us about the farm Brunkulla gård, an eco-friendly farm, and about the animals and their different characters. The farm has been inherited in straight descending direction since at least the 16th century. “

Fjällko Jamtli. Foto: Jamtli
Mountain Cattle at the Summer grazing farm at Jamtli open air museum. Photo: Jamtli

Swedish mountain cattle – perfect for 63 degrees north

The swedish mountain cattle come from the remote mountain regions of north Sweden. From archaeological excavations we know that hornless cows were present in the north of Sweden from the end of the 14th century, but it is likely they were kept here even in the viking era.

The breed is well adapted to the climate in Jämtland Härjedalen. They have no horns, the fur is white with black or redish brownish spots. It is smaller than other breeds, strong and durable. The average weight is low, about 250-450 kg and it does not milk as much as other larger breeds. Fjällkon´s milk is great for cheese making because it contains high levels of “good” protein. Compared to milk from other breeds, cheese yields per kg of milk are almost twice as high, which means that only 7-8 kg of skimmed milk is used to get 1 kg of cheese, compared with 14-16 kg of milk from the commercial breeds. Fjällkon is critically endangered, there are a total of about 600 mountain cows in Sweden.

The Swedish Mountain Cattle have unique genes worth protecting for the future. Film by NordGen - Nordic Genes Resource Center

Sustainable farming and tourism at Brunkulla gård

Niklas and Camilla Persson-Landgren run Brunkulla Farm outside Östersund together with the children Julia and Frej. They are the eleventh generation at Brunkulla Farm, one of Jämtland’s oldest farms. In 1995 Niklas and Camilla took over the farm after Niklas´s parents and since then they run the farm ecologically. Sustainability is a theme throughout the business. They combine traditional farming with food production, a small conference business, summer café and a bed & breakfast. They also offer a unique Mountain Cattle Safari where guests will get to know this very special breed.

Niklas and Camilla are a good example of the ingenuity and clarity that characterize Jämtland Härjedalen. They operate their farm and combine it with other jobs to live the life they want to live on the farm they intend to relay to future generations. Besides the Fjällko (mountain cattle), they have Hedemorahöns (Hens of Hedemora) and Linderödssvin (Pigs of Linderöd) which also are original swedish breeds on the farm.

Niklas Camilla Brunkulla farm Östersund
Camilla and Niklas are 11th generation farmers at Brunkulla farm just outside the city Östersund. Photo: Tina Stafrén

Farmlife on Jamtli

The Museum Jamtli in Östersund is reenacting farmlife from around 1895 at Näsgården (the Näs farm).  During summer, the animals and the staff participate as actors in the historical buildings and settings. For the rest of the year, visitors can meet the animals and hear about them and agricultural activities at Jamtli in the barn.

The animals at Jamtli are native breeds, old Swedish breeds which have been on farms in this region for hundreds of years. You can meet Nordsvenska (Northern Swedish) horses, Fjäll (mountain) cows, goats from Jämtland, sheep from Klövsjö, the Bjurholm hens and Mellerud rabbits.

While the animals are fed the barn is open for visitors who want to see the animals up close. Every day between 3 and 4 PM.

Jämtlandsget Jamtli
Goat from Jämtland at Jamtli open air Museum. Photo: Jamtli

Östersund is a UNESCO City of Gastronomy

There are several farms in Jämtland Härjedalen with a pronounced sustainability strategy and a strong sense for sustainable food production. Something that contributed to the fact that Östersund is a “Creative City of Gastronomy” designated by UNESCO, starting in 2010.

Horse from the north of Sweden (Nordsvensk) at Jamtli Open Air Museum. Photo: Jamtli