As a dairy farmer in the third generation, Jan Gerdes raises thirty cows on his farm in northern Germany and successfully sells organic milk and cheese. But he struggles with his conscience when he has to sell his cows to the slaughterhouse when the milk yield starts to decrease. He decides to give up his farm. On the day when all the cows are to be taken to the slaughterhouse, there is no room for the last twelve. Instead of ordering a new transport, he and his partner Karin Mück decide to keep the cows on the farm.
This is the birth of Hof Butenland – Germany’s first cowshed. On Butenland many former “farm animals” live at eye level with the people – without having to fulfill any benefits. A peaceful coexistence that seems almost utopian. With their project, Jan Gerdes and Karin Mück are designing a radical counter-model to livestock farming, in which the needs of the animals are at the center, far away from any economic interests.
"A home for discarded farm animals, a haunting story about activists and animal rights campaigners. A film about the animal-human interface that confronts us with our undecided attitude towards the question of how valuable we treat an animal as soon as it’s no longer a valuable source to us. Is there a different coexistence between animals and human beings? And if so, at what price? BUTENLAND allows for a change of perspectives. We’ve seen an affectionate and sometimes painful film that invites us to profoundly reconsider our attitude."