From the farm to the mountain in Cantal, we make you follow the rise of 17 cows in the summer pasture.

From the farm to the mountain in Cantal, we make you follow the rise of 17 cows in the summer pasture.

“Come girls, come! » They were asked to leave their pastures, green as ever, Gaec Cocural’s cows are running on the small road of Rouffiac. Go to the barn, where the farmer Émilie Cocural must prepare his sellers before leaving for the holiday of summer. Today is D-Day. That of climbing in the summer pastures, up there, at 1,100 meters above sea level.

Breeding of Salers and Gasconnes of the Pyrenees at the summer grazing festival meeting on Saturday May 27 in Allanche.

The “holiday taxi” is a Volvo cattle truck for a cattle trading company. Expected at noon, he will pack 17 doublonnes that he will take to shepherd the pastoral unit of Récusset, in the town of Saint-Paul-de-Salers, at the foot of the Puy Violent. Copy? “Two-year-old chick”, explains Émilie Cocural. Young cows that will calve for the first time in January 2024.

Before leaving, they pass their investigation

“We will solve all the grandmothers, the farmer smiles. Twice it is easy to notice: for two years, we have chosen to burn the horns at birth. So they can be a little nice… but that reduces the risk of accidents. “The morning is for sports. Our guests pass through the barrier corridor, where they receive an injection of Ivomec, an antiparasitic, and where they are injected with Butox, a product that repels biting insects, especially those that transmit besnoitiosis. The sellers are finally closed, by ear, with the number assigned to each member of Coptasa: Cooperative for the transformation of personality and improvement of agricultural structures.

A large summer camp for 3,800 cattle

This large summer camp for cattle, all mixed breeds, is celebrating its 60th anniversary. Number 27, Gaec Cocural is one of the 180 farms (from Cantal, Lozère or Aveyron) that raise their cattle there. Cost: €169 per doublonne, for 130 days of guaranteed mountain pastures. In addition to Récusset, Coptasa is also established in Pradiers, in Cézallier. In total, it has 2,100 hectares of pasture, which will benefit 3,800 heads throughout the summer. A unique design in France.

In the mountain pastures, in Cantal, even the best springs are drying up… but the herders are getting used to the heat.

So “we have to show our qualities, create Émilie Cocural. It is collective: if a herd is contaminated, it can contaminate another…” Coptasa uses a strict protocol and checks all the cows’ health passes. Vaccination against anthrax is specifically requested.

Gaec Cocural, from father to daughter

“Ten years ago, I was afraid of cows,” laughs Simon Billaud. Originally from Deux-Sèvres, this grain farmer’s son learned to love salt by meeting Émilie Cocural. The couple, who met at the University of Poitiers, now have two young children… and manage together, hand in hand, a 114-hectare farm.

In Cantal, the largest cattle holiday camp in France

Returning to Cantal, he started by establishing Gaec in 2018 with his father, Jean-Pierre Cocural, who had been living in Rouffiac since 1979. “When I started, I was milking by hand”, recalls the “great father”, he moved from. milk to breastfeeding in the late 1980s. Turning the page after 44 years of work, he has just retired. In early 2023, Simon Billaud took his place at Gaec. A story of good presentation.

“They’re lucky, they’re going on vacation”

But the young retiree is still bursting with energy. He takes care of the “ambience”, sticks to “Cantal welcome”. For this “big day”, he and his neighbor Laurent, a limousine farmer, lend a hand to small farmers. “It’s good, it’s all over! There is a cattle truck. “They are lucky, they go on vacation in the mountains, in their buron”, thinks Jean-Pierre Cocural.

Meeting at an altitude of 1,400 meters with Cantal shepherds and 2,000 cows of the Pradiers mountain pastures.

Loaded, the 17 cows set off 50 kilometers away, heading for the summer pastures of Récusset. “Up there, everything is taken care of. We don’t need to worry,” sighs Émilie Cocural, now snapping her fingers so as not to receive a call from one of the two pastors who, until October 10, will pamper her sellers. Because if it sounds, ” there is a small problem. And it happens, he explains. Last year, we lost twice who was seriously injured. These are dangerous, vagaries of work.

Along with the drought, mountain pastures reduce the pressure

Growing 85 mother sellers on 114 hectares (in Rouffiac, but also in Cros-de-Montvert, Laroquebrou or on the Corrèze side), Gaec relies on common summer pastures to “burden itself”, in terms of work rather than grass management . This is the fifth summer that Émilie Cocural has volunteered the services of Coptasa.

“The pastures in the mountain pastures are the best. And for the next drought, we need to build a large reserve of fodder, because the summer may be long…”

Emilie Cocural

It also leaves more grass for the abandoned cows. In short, “it’s a combination of many things”.

The door of the livestock trailer finally comes down. With a glow, the mount opens up to 17 doublonnes that disappear into the distance, blending into a postcard landscape. That’s all, sellers and aubracs do the usual feeding. Later in the summer, Émilie Cocural and Simon Billaud will return here, their two children in their arms, to greet the “girls”, take a breath of fresh air and roll out the tablecloth for a family picnic. . Holidays, real ones.

Roman European