If there’s one thing rural France has an abundant supply of, it is beautiful churches.
I was up on le Cher in the Centre to visit a Salers farm, one that has 200 mother cows on 320 hectares. This was a much bigger operation than the one we run. They get a lot of demand for direct sale of Salers beef but with the workload of 200 mother cows there’s no way to deal with direct sales too.
One of the things I was looking at was a bull for the farm. This farm keeps all their male calves intact (i.e. no castration, no steers). Bulls grow faster than steers and produce lean tender beef at a young age. This farm aims at 20-24 months but I have heard of other farms doing bull beef at 14-18 months. This is a quick way to get a return for raising your own calves.
This guy was paying me close attention.
The downside of bulls is that you have to separate them from the herd if you want any control over your genetics or if you want your fences intact. So they have over a hundred bulls fattening in pens. This works well for the cooperative or auction market, but isn’t something we want to do for direct sale. We think good beef takes time and that steer beef, although slower to raise, will produce the best flavor. Still, this farm had a great setup for producing a lot of beef and making a profit.
Some of the two hundred mother cows are inside. Here they are eating at a cornadis, which is lockable so I can have a look at them. This is different from the attached cows at a lot of farms.
We’re thinking of adding another dozen young mother cows to the herd.
One of these things is not like the other ones! That’s a Charolaise in amongst the Salers. They are bigger and more muscular than a Salers but are slower to mature and have more birthing and fertility problems. And they don’t taste as good. They are probably the most numerous cow in France with the Limousine and Blonde following after.
It is the start of the spring birthing season so there were plenty of new calves. These twins were outside, but they had a little straw shelter to keep the wind off.
This little cross calf was born just before I arrived. Born curious, too.