By ‘Gascon’ I mean the cow, la Gasconne, the cow of the Ariège.
The old name for this breed was Gasconne muqueuses noires, which means with black mucus membranes e.g. black around the eyes and nose. They joined the breed with the Gasconne Auréolée from the Gers a few decades back to make the Gascon, but then they split the breeds back up again. Like our Salers, Gascons are mountain cows but from a different mountain range; these girls are from the Pyrenees at the France/Spanish border.
This crew are using a cornadis, which seems to be the standard for newer farm buildings.
Back over a year ago I was looking at Gascons as a potential breed for us. They are rustic, hardy mountain cows that do well on grass and marble better than the standard Blonde or Limousine. Plus they are cute.
In all I visited six different farms with Gascon cows. Every one kept them inside for winter, even the couple of farms that were out of the mountains and down in the plains. I have seen Gascons outside in the cold Ariège in winter so they are keeping them inside for reasons of worker ease or production performance rather than any lack of tolerance in the cow breed.
This herd of heifers is in stabulation libre, where they can run around a small pen for the winter. Straw is thrown in to keed the bedding clean.
Although at the same farm the mother cows are chained for the winter. A lot of farmers like using the chains since they can get the cows accustomed to human closeness.
The calves get chained near their mothers and brought out to feed twice a day. This is also a system they use for veau sous la mère, the white veal, although they usually have a spare milk cow to provide extra milk for the growing lad.
A Gascon bull showing the fine condition of his rump. And yes, French farmers still use berets.
Gascon bulls can get very dark.
The bull below was at a different farm. The farmer was very proud of this bull and the Groupe Gascon guy thought he was special, too. Not being au fait with Gascons I can’t tell a bad one from a good one, but this bull is pretty well muscled with a long back but I’m a little wary about the arch in it.
There’s always one cow who wants to sniff the camera to see if it is made of lucerne.
This farm was in a mountain valley. Half way up the hillside was another village. It looks cold.
And deep in the Pyrenees this farm has a Border Collie with mismatched eyes. This is a very successful dog breed.
When the houses down here have roofs made of slate, you know it snows a lot.