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Swedish "Dairy" Thrives By Milking Moose
Christer and Ulla Johansson have tapped into a lucrative niche cheese market by milking moose on their farm near Bjurholm, Sweden. The cheese they make sells for $227 per lb. and has yielded a tourism spin-off of at least 25,000 paying visitors per year to their 59-acre "dairy" farm.

    The couple milks the moose cows by hand, and makes three types of cheese which they sell to upscale Swedish hotels and restaurants and to tourists on the farm. They make about 660 lbs. of cheese total per year for a gross income of about $150,000 from their animals, not counting the paying visitors.

    "We supply 66 lbs. every year to the Ice Hotel, a large popular international tourist hotel in Stockholm," Christer says. "Moose cheese is a very good cheese. People like the taste."

    The Johanssons started their operation in northern Sweden seven years ago. They have eight adult moose and six young calves. They say it's the only moose dairy farm in Europe and that they got their inspiration from some moose milk dairies in Eastern Russia.

    When getting established, they obtained orphaned moose calves from animal parks.

    The three cow moose currently being milked produce milk from the time they calve in May until the time they are in heat again in September. At birth, their calves (moose normally have twins) are taken away and bottle-fed with their mothers' milk for the first week. For the second week, they get a mixture of their mother's milk and moose milk replacer, and by the third week, they are switched completely to milk replacer.

    The cows allow Christer to milk them twice a day.

    "They stand still while free in the forest," he explains. "Milking one moose sometimes takes a half hour to 45 minutes if everything is quiet and peaceful but if a car goes by or anything disruptive happens, it can take up to two hours."

    Each cow produces about one gallon of milk per day. Moose milk contains 12 percent fat and 12 percent protein.

    Since demand for the moose cheese seems to be increasing due to publicity the dairy has received, Christer says he plans to start milking one more moose next year.

    Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Elk House, Christer and Ulla Johansson, 91692 Bjurholm, Sweden (ph 011 46 932 500 00; fax 011 46 932 500 10; email: btab@telia.se; website: www.bjurholm.se).

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2004 - Volume #28, Issue #5