Talking beef with John Haldemann, Montoz (JU)

‘‘The nature trail provides a good opportunity for teaching children about suckler cow husbandry.”

The adventure trail starts at the Haldemann’s Montoz restaurant. Here, you can enjoy dishes with the best Natura-Bee, while the children have fun on the playground. (Photo: Suckler Cow Switzerland)

John Haldemann – Your family has been a member of Suckler Cow Switzerland since 1980. What do you particularly like about the organisation?

For a start, we naturally benefit from the distribution channels for Natura-Beef, Natura-Veal und SwissPrimBeef. Secondly, various services und tools, such as BeefNet, make our daily administrative work easier.

Here we are on your farm on Montoz mountain. What can I experience and do here as a visitor? 

Visitors can enjoy great walks and bike rides at our farm. We also offer dishes with Natura-Beef in our restaurant. On the menu at the moment we have for example, a fitness-entrecote, a double cheeseburger and a T-bone steak. Children can romp around on the playground in front of the restaurant.

John Haldemann taking a hands-on approach to developing the Adventure Trail. (Photo: Suckler Cow Switzerland) 

When do you have the most visitors? 

From July to October, mainly during weekends at lunchtime, but also in the evenings. We are closed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.
The Lea and Ben Adventure Trail on the Montoz mountain is now in its second year. What prompted you to get involved with this trail?
The fact that I can make an active contribution to the public learning more about suckler cows and how to behave with them. There are big knowledge gaps in this area among the general public. I find it useful and important to be able to transmit this information in such a playful and clear manner.

Can you give an example? 

When cattle get frightened, it can lead to tricky situations. So it’s important for visitors to keep their dogs on a leash. In an emergency however, it‘s better to let go of the dog, as it can usually flee. If you stay with your animal at such a moment, you run the risk of being targeted by the cow. There’s a simple reason for this: the cow will protect its calf at all costs, and a dog represents a predator for her. 

Do the visitors ask questions? 

Rather rarely. But sometimes people want to learn more about the different breeds. 

Which stations on the Adventure Trail do you personally consider the most important?

The one that’s dedicated to the subject of waste. When someone leaves a can or glass bottle lying around for example, it can be very harmful to the animals. A few years ago I even lost a cow because of this. It wasn’t until we got to the slaughterhouse that it became clear why she had died:  she had swallowed a bicycle bottle made of plastic.

What do you expect from this second year?

I hope that more schools from the region will visit us. The Adventure Trail provides a good opportunity for teaching children about suckler cow husbandry and how to behave with suckler cows. Getting here to Montoz mountain by bus is difficult, so a part of the road on the side of the Hotel-Restaurant Werdtberg is currently being upgraded. I am confident that we’ll be able to welcome more schoolchildren in the new season.

John Haldemann is proud of his Angus. (Photo: provided)

Generally speaking, what is your relationship with cows and calves? 

It’s actually quite simple: I love my animals and know them very well. When you spend a lot of time with the herd, the animals get used to you and become more trusting.

Do you have an anecdote you would like to tell us? 

There are a few cows that automatically come up to me as soon as they see me. They like it when I stroke them. As long as I stay put, they enjoy the moment. Other cows don’t do this and are a bit more shy. I think it’s a gene thing.

Why do you rear the Angus breed on your farm? 

I am very fond of this breed. It is easy to take care of. Due to their size, Angus cows have easy calving and can move well on steep terrain. They are relatively resistant to variations in temperature, although they prefer the cold to the heat. Last summer was difficult, however. At 30 degrees, they took refuge in the woods. And last but not least, I value the quality of the meat, which is tasty, tender and low in fat. 

We wish John Haldemann a good season on the Montoz mountain – with lots of visitors in the restaurant and on the Adventure Trail. Information on the Adventure Trail in Malleray can be found here. In Meierskappel (LU) there is another Adventure Trail. Use QR-codes to access the translations in case you are on the move in another linguistic region.

(Photo : Edith Alarcón)
(Photo : Edith Alarcón)

The Haldemann family has been a member of Suckler Cow Switzerland since 1980 and is thus among the pioneers. At the time, dairy cows still ‘dominated‘ the Swiss landscape. Today, there are over 100,000 suckler cows in Switzerland, accounting for some 15 percent of all cattle. 

John Haldemann took over the farm in 2000. He owns some 20 Angus suckler cows together with their calves and a bull. He sells the meat directly from the farm to Coop under the labels Natura-Beef or Natura-Veal as well as SwissPrimBeef. 

During the summering season, he looks after a further 135 Angus and Simmental suckler cows, which graze on the alp on the Montoz mountain from the end of May to the end of September.