The setting is magnificent as you approach Eskjær Hovedgaard farm in Jutland. A tree-lined avenue bisects the grassy fields, which on one side are dotted with sheep.

The 14th century main building sits at the far end of the courtyard surrounded by a moat and backed by woods. Detail is important here.

The building on the north side of the courtyard houses some of Eskjær Hovedgaard’s pigs. A new sign was recently put up on the front of the building with the text “I follow the Climate Track – heading for more sustainable farming in collaboration with Danish Crown.”

The sign is part of Danish Crown’s new direction and image to ensure that we succeed at creating more sustainable meat production in the future.

31-year-old Johan Schütte, co-owner of Eskjær Hovedgaard farm and in charge of the farm’s pig production and crops, wants to join the Climate Track.

“I ordered the sign because I believe it sends an important signal: we want to contribute to sustainability. I think it’s important for Danish agriculture to differentiate itself in a positive way in this area. We are constantly competing with agricultural producers from around the world and we need to demonstrate that buying Danish produce instead of foreign produce also means buying sustainably,” says Johan Schütte.

The location of the sign is not a coincidence.

“We put up the sign at the front of our pig building facing the courtyard because there is a public wood area behind the main building. Especially at weekends, many people come for a walk in the woods, and they park right in front of the sign. So, I hope the sign can spark some reaction to our green approach to pig production,” says Johan Schütte.

New ventilators, biogas and straw-fired boiler

At Eskjær Hovedgaard farm, pig production comprises 22,000 bought 7 kg pigs, of which 19,000 are fattened up to be slaughtered, while the remainder are sold at 30 kg.

The farm’s pig production has been given a sustainability certificate by Danish Crown, and Johan Schütte says they are very focused on optimising the farm in terms of sustainability whenever possible.

“I often discuss sustainability with my co-workers. For example, we have replaced our ventilators in the pig buildings with new ones that consume much less power. We have covered our slurry tank, we use a straw-fired boiler instead of an oil furnace for heating, and from November we will be sending our surplus slurry to a biogas plant. We endeavour to consider the environment in all decisions when it is financially feasible,” says Johan Schütte.

Dreaming about a new pig building

As Johan Schütte’s pig production takes place in old buildings, there are limits to making the buildings as sustainable as current knowledge and technology permit.

Consequently, the farmer is dreaming about building a whole new pig facility, although that is very costly.

“Obviously, I like the idea, but it is a major financial investment. Pig producers have had some lean years, and the risk of hog cholera affecting Denmark at some point is also something we need to consider. However, a new building would allow for the installation of slurry cooling under the floor, slats and the like, which would make our production more sustainable,” says Johan Schütte.

Aiming to be a frontrunner

Johan Schütte is pleased that Danish Crown has decided to dedicate even more resources to making production more sustainable and to drawing attention to the initiatives already undertaken by Danish farmers.

“If a young farmer like myself is not a frontrunner in this project, I can’t see who should be, so naturally I want to take part. Sustainability and quality have to be central pillars of Danish agriculture if we are to compete on the international stage. So, I welcome the new direction and look forward to doing my bit,” Johan Schütte says.

If a young farmer like myself is not a frontrunner in this project, I can’t see who should be.