“We bring hay to hold”, the concern of breeders for their herd in the mountain pastures

At 1,400 meters above sea level, the grass is yellowed, toasted, and increasingly sparse. Arnaud and Roman Dumoulin are based in La Compote, in Savoie. Like many other breeders in the area, they produce tome des Bauges. They spend the summer in the mountain pastures with around thirty cows of the Montbéliarde breed and plenty of them. But this year, the mountains are scorched by the sun, the cows are sorely lacking in food. What to worry about a drop in milk production.

For now, the two brothers keep their herd in the mountain pastures. “We don’t make milk from other years. There, we will try to hold out until the end of August, another three weeks. We will try to hold on, but by climbing hay“, worries Romain. Usually, there is no question of “raising hay”. The animals normally come down from the mountain pastures at the beginning of October. They will find the fields of the valley at the end of August “knowing that at the bottom, we will not have grass until October 20 like the other years“, believes Romain. “I do not know or this will lead ushe laments.

At the end of July, it rained 15 millimeters, too little. On July 29, the prefecture of Savoie placed the west of the department and at the same time the Bauges massif in a crisis situation, which is the highest level on the drought scale. “If it continues like this next year, it will be difficult“, loose Romain Dumoulin.

For lack of sources, breeders set up water tanks in the mountain pastures. Below, in Bellecombe-en-Bauges, Anaïs Jouan started her winter hay and she sent cows to the slaughterhouse. “For a herd of 60, we sent seven in two weeks [à l’abattoir]“. The current lack of food and low reserves for the winter is pushing this breeder to reduce the size of her herd.

“The choice was not to keep them since it always makes a little less animals to feed”.

Anaïs Jouan, breeder in the Bauges massif


The breeder calculated her production costs and with the fodder in the summer, it was no longer profitable. “The calculation is quickly done, so they left“, she underlines.

In Lescheraines, the dairy cooperative produces Margériaz and of course Tomme des Bauges. Thierry Bock, its president remembers the drought of 2003, but “IThe repercussions were less than this year”, he believes. It finds “a sharp drop in fundraising“Here, we are very worried about the production of the volume this fall and even “for the rest of the year“.”Less milk entering our workshops, less cheese made, so ultimately less cheese to market“, he summarizes.

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