Jersey farmers Henk and Geke
Names: Henk and Geke van Gelder
Owners: Jersey Farm in Dalfsen, Overijssel
Favorite cheese: We don’t need to explain that, do we…
Geke and Henk van Gelder’s beautiful farm in Dalfsen, in the Dutch province of Overijssel, was the scene of the first Pure Jersey Open Farm Day on May 4, 2019. It was a fun event with so much to do for young and old: From tasting cheese, eating toasted sandwiches, to cuddling calves and milking cows. What a wonderful and successful day!
Henk and Geke’s farm is an attraction in Dalfsen. The heritage farm dates from 1857 and is owned by the Van Dedem family from the Den Aalshorst country estate. Henk’s grandpa and grandma started leasing the farm from the family in 1930. Henk and Geke are the third generation to lease the farm, which they started doing in 2010. A farm without Jersey cows.
Henk and Geke are delighted to tell us how it all started…
“In 2010 we read an article about Jersey cows and we kept thinking about it. After learning more about the breed, we decided to start with five cows. We were so enthusiastic that we quickly wanted more. Henk thought it was too hard to decide with just five Jerseys among a hundred Holstein cows, so we bought another thirty Jersey cows. Then we had a period with a lot of deliberation. After three generations of Holstein cows was it wise to switch entirely to Jersey cows? In the end we decided to embrace the adventure. By 2015 our entire herd comprised Jerseys,” stated Geke.
What’s so special about Jerseys?
“The Jersey cow is a true primeval breed. The reason it’s a pure breed is due to the import ban on Jersey cows that lasted for years. The cows have a unique appearance: In addition to their striking brown coat, furry ears and white muzzle, the cows are also quite a bit smaller than ‘regular’ Dutch Holstein Friesian cows. A cow you want to cuddle! But that’s not the only thing that makes these cows unique. Jersey cows are incredibly beautiful animals with a sweet nature that really suits us.
They’re also a great match for our farm. The breed adapts quickly to its environment and has good health characteristics. Jersey cows also produce different milk. Milk from a Jersey cow naturally contains 20% more protein, has more fat and more vitamins, calcium, and omega 3 than milk from ‘regular’ Dutch cows. That’s why we wanted to make it more widely known; to make people aware of the health properties of this milk. It’s also why we started the milk tap.”
‘Yes, of course, we’ve got the cheese now too. How fantastic is that. We’ve had a vending machine with Pure Jersey cheese since last month. We slice the fresh cheese and vacuum pack it for our vending machine.