Swiss cheese

In the Swiss canton of St. Gallen, Roman Oswald operates a grassland farm with dairy and cattle-raising, in which he invests cyclically.

December 05, 2018

The Oswald family farm in Waldkirch has 34 hectares and is situated 850 metres above sea level. The area’s heavy soils make crop growing impractical, so instead they raise cows. “Right now I have 55 milk cows and 25 other cattle,” says Oswald. He tends to have around 80 head at any given time. Formerly he had only brown cows, but now a third of his animals are Holsteins. “They give more milk, are easier to milk, and are generally easier to keep.”

It’s all about cheese
All told he produces around 400,000 litres of milk annually. “All of it goes to the dairy in Appenzell, where it is made into the finest Swiss cheese,” says Oswald with pride. The milk is priced accordingly, being produced 100 percent silo-free. In 2015 he fulfilled his dream of a big new open-plan barn. Now he’s investing in new and better machines. “With this investment strategy I can gradually increase the capabilities of my farm,” he explains.

Not at all “mini”
Among his latest acquisitions is a Minifex 550 hill spreader from Farmtech. “My old spreader was ready to retire after 40 years of service,” he explains. And since his brother Heinz is head of sales at Farmtech importer Sutter Landtechnik, he knew right where to go. “I haven’t regretted the decision. The value for money is perfect, just like the spread pattern. With a 2.1 metre wheelbase the machine is very stable off-road, which is important for our hilly region.”

High quality
“The Minifex cover closes tight so nothing gets out when I haul it by road. That’s important when we’re spreading very dry and fine manure. The machine is also hard-wearing. All wear parts are by well-known manufacturers and of the highest quality.” The spreader did about 100 loads in its first season, and Oswald has an idea for improvement: “The towbar should be made longer. The standard length is too short for double wheels and wide tyres.”

Steady growth
Asked about the future, Roman Oswald has a clear vision: “The drought this year was just a temporary problem. Next year will be wetter.” He’s referring to the fact that this was driest summer since the start of rainfall records in his area. “Developments in agricultural policy will be much more important. By that I mean how the milk business and milk prices develop. In addition, I need to maintain steady growth without adding personnel. That will take more mechanization and automation, and that is always a question of investment and money.”