The Berrichonne de l'Indre has the wind in its sails
Journal L'AURORE PAYSANNE - Published on 22 June 18 By Mathieu Laforet
Geode sale/ The sale is often the scene of a bitter battle between producers, wanting to buy the perfect animal for their herds. Far from the electric atmosphere of the auction rooms, the EARL Parry offered to buy, on Tuesday 19 June, Berrichonne rams from the Indre.
The sheep chronicle / Cellular grazing and parasitism The study on mini-patch grazing is continuing at the CIIRPO (Centre interrégional d'Information et de Recherche en Production Ovine) on the Mourier site (87). Since September 2016, the parasites of ewes grazed in two different
Since September 2016, the parasites of ewes kept under two grazing methods, "classic" rotational grazing and cellular grazing (also known as dynamic grazing), have been observed with a magnifying glass. Philippe Jacquiet,
a teacher-researcher at the Toulouse Veterinary School, explains that "the results obtained during the first year of observation indicate that ewes grazed on cellular pasture have massive gastrointestinal strongyles egg excretion intensities at certain times of the year.
of the year. In addition, at certain times of the follow-up, the intensity of internal parasitism was higher on cell pasture than on rotational pasture.
Results that are confirmed
The two series of measurements carried out in 2018 show the same trends. At the last sampling, on 28 May, the excretion averaged 434 eggs of gastrointestinal strongyles (opg) from the 41 ewes sampled on rotational pasture. The faeces of the 43 ewes
The faeces of the 43 ewes sampled on cellular pasture contained 612 opg. "This means that we must remain vigilant and that cell grazing alone does not guarantee effective control of internal parasitism during a grazing season," concludes the vet.
The results of the first study campaign are available at www.inn-Ovin.fr and www.idele.fr: "Cellular grazing and parasitism in sheep production: lessons from a first monitoring campaign".
Laurence Sagot (Institut de l'Elevage/CIIRPO)
For breeders of small breeds, the preservation of populations and genetic standards is essential. The breeders of the Berrichonne de l'Indre have understood this well. Every year, on Gwen Parry's farm in Martizay, a sale of young rams is held.
The Berrichonne de l'Indre in seduction Accompanied by the Géode selection organisation, EARL Parry has been chosen to be the breeding centre for the breed at national level. For this new edition, a dozen breeders from all over France came to choose from among the selected males. The number of animals present at the sale this year proves that we are on the right track," explains Brigitte Parry, Gwen's mother. The first year we could only offer 18 rams. On this morning, there are 40. It should be remembered that the Berrichonne de l'Indre almost disappeared. Not enough conformation in meat and legs too small to offer them on the market. It is the passionate producers who, with the help of Géode, have succeeded in re-launching the breed. Today, the Berrichonne de l'Indre is becoming more and more attractive, thanks to its ability to be deseasonal, which opens up new economic perspectives for the breeder, but also thanks to its hardiness and character. Eric Jeanneton, a breeder at Les Hérolles, notes that "these are very easy animals to handle. I save precious time. They are very hardy, adapt very well to difficult conditions, and the females are very maternal.
The Berrichonne de l'Indre has the wind in its sails (continued)
I used to produce meat breeds, I saw the difference! I won't go back. This growing interest is directly reflected in the numbers, as Alexandre Brousseau, representative of Géode, explains. "Currently, the Berrichonne de l'Indre has
Currently, the Berrichonne de l'Indre has 1,000 ewes in France, with breeders spread across the West, the Centre, the South-East and the Landes. But I receive several requests from farmers interested in integrating the breed on their farms. The current population of individuals does not allow us to respond to all the applications, but I would much rather deal with this kind of situation than to see a dislike for the breed. Maintaining harmony between breeders For this sale, the aim is to maintain a cordial understanding between the breeders. It is not an auction, as can be seen with more popular breeds such as the Charollais or the Charmois. Each breeder must leave with the number of rams he needs for
rams he needs for his breeding. They have the genetic characteristics of each animal as well as its parentage. They therefore know the compatibility with their flock. After a quick observation of the animals in the flock, the future buyers specify their preferences. Each ram is then presented individually, and each one takes a position. The breeder-buyers have the first choice, the users the last. A simple draw decides between breeders who have chosen the same animal. All transactions take place in a friendly atmosphere. Some will favour the head carriage, others the size or the width of the back.
The multiplicity of criteria is in line with the characteristics of the farms. "Some breeders will want to have a ram for meat production, others who favour prolificacy qualities. However, all of us want to preserve the breed standards. This meeting between Berrichonne breeders is interesting, because we can exchange and improve. Seven animals have been booked to take part in an INRA study on parasitism. Gwen Parry's farm has been chosen to host a batch of animals
animals in a test. "This is the second year I have taken part in the protocol. The aim is to observe the effects of parasitism (strongyles) on sheep. That's why we allocate young rams for the research centre. At the end of the morning, all the breeders present went home with one or more rams, a great day for the Berrichonne de l'Indre.
"Montmorillon: the great journey of the Géode sheep
Sheep know-how is being exported: from Montmorillon, Géode sells sheep in Mongolia, as well as in Iran despite international tensions.
The sheep genetic selection organisation Géode, based in Montmorillon, had concluded a first contract in 2015 to sell sheep to Iran. Are these trade agreements continuing?
Guy-Gérard Merlande, president of Géode. "Yes. In 2017 we shipped 220 sheep to Iran and we are preparing a new start of the same order for June. We are not impacted by Donald Trump's recent decisions. We will see the future obviously. We have to be careful."
"We are considering opening an office in Tehran"
"In fact, we are more affected by the devaluation of the Iranian currency, which has lost 50% of its value since 2015. Our sheep are costing them more."
What qualities do the Iranians look for in French sheep?
"They want to increase the productivity of their farms: there are 55 million sheep in Iran (about 7 million in France) but few forage resources. Their lambs are consumable at 18 or 24 months, compared to three or four in France. They want to reduce the number of sheep to reduce the pressure on the resource, while producing as much meat.
What breeds are exported? How do they acclimatise?
"Romanov, Suffolk and western reds. There are no problems of acclimatisation in the sheepfolds. It is warmer than at home, but it is dry. There are more concerns about technical support. We are in talks to train staff and we are travelling there. I have been there twice to solve problems with feeding, reproduction, etc."
"Montmorillon: the great journey of the Géode sheep (continued)"
Who are your clients in Iran?
"We work with private companies, through intermediaries who get government approvals and support. We have had a long-term relationship since 2015 but it depends on many things: Trump, their government, ours, the currency, etc. We are in the middle of globalisation! We are in the middle of globalisation! We are considering opening an office in Tehran to solve problems of language, distance and currency barriers."
You also sell sheep in Mongolia.
"Yes, 700 animals in 2017. Their situation is quite similar to that of Iran, with a nomadic breeding that is not very productive, which they want to intensify. The geopolitical context is less tense. We have just met the Mongolian Minister of Agriculture who came to France. We are going there this summer to monitor the livestock already imported and to see with the government how to support them in terms of health. They have a long-term programme, they are talking about 5,000 to 6,000 animals per year.
What do export sales represent for Géode?
"For the moment it's quite limited, our main market is France. We also sell in European countries. But the turnover of foreign sales increased by 400% last year with Iran and Mongolia.
"600 Lorraine sheep exported to Mongolia"
Six breeders from Meurthe-et-Moselle and Saulnois sent 600 sheep to Mongolia. The local breeds have won them over for their many qualities.
At just four months old, 600 sheep from the Saulnois and Meurthe-et-Moselle regions have made their first flight by plane. Direction Mongolia! In June, the animals were sent to the foot of the yurts, at the request of a Mongolian industrialist. Dashzeveg Luvsandorj wanted to create his own sheep farm and started breeding sheep. The partnership with Lorraine breeders was made possible by an organisation called Geode.
"French breeding has a very good reputation abroad," explains Joseph Remillon, breeder and member of Geode for the Saulnois. "This is certainly what seduced the representatives from that country. Several typical breeds were exported to the region: Eastern Merinos, Berrichons du Cher, Suffolks and Romanovs. The Eastern Merinos in particular caught the eye of the delegation. "It is a typical breed from our region. The females are good milkers, with exceptional maternal qualities.
This is important because next February, a first litter should be born on Mongolian soil. In order to be able to produce offspring on site, 220 ewe lambs were sent for only 10 males.
Dashzeveg Luvsandorj's desire is real. He wants to provide a "plus" for the population living in these arid regions with a harsh climate. The wool from the sheep will be valued and reused later on. Different cultivation methods will also be passed on to the local farmers to enable them to diversify.
This programme between the Lorraine breeders and Mongolia provides for personalised support. The French breeders have planned nine trips over three years.
A few days ago, a Mongolian delegation, made up of the industrialist and representatives of the Mongolian Ministry of Agriculture, discovered Joseph Remillon's installations. To learn the good gestures of French know-how...
"When robust sheep from Lorraine are exported to Mongolia"
A Mongolian patron has decided to start breeding quality sheep in his country and has chosen French animals. 600 of them were flown out in June.
French sheep obviously have a very good reputation. So much so that they are attractive... even in Mongolia! Between March and June, no less than 600 animals were flown to the Mongolian steppes. This project, born of a partnership between the sheep genetic selection and development organisation (Géode), the association of Eastern Merino breeders and a Mongolian patron, aims to develop quality sheep breeding in this arid Asian country, reports Grain de sel.
Several breeds of sheep have been chosen, says Le républicain Lorrain: Berrichons du Cher, Suffolks, Romanovs and Est à laine Merinos, a species renowned for its resistance, particularly in territories with difficult climatic conditions (aridity, cold, etc.), such as Mongolia. The females are good milk producers, with exceptional maternal qualities," a Moselle breeder explained to our colleagues.
The French breeders have planned to travel to Mongolia ten times to follow the lambing period.
"120 ewes from the Saulnois region fly to Mongolia"
The Saulnois region stands out again! Three breeders of "Mérinos de Lorraine", a common breed of sheep here, have just exported one hundred and twenty ewe lambs and a few rams to Ulan Bator, the capital of Mongolia.
A real expedition from Guébling, Lezey and Conthil orchestrated by the sheep genetic selection and development organisation (GEODE) and the association of Eastern Merino breeders who selected 600 animals from all over France (including 200 Lorraine merinos) for a Mongolian patron who wishes to develop quality sheep breeding in his country.merinosavion
Handicapped by complicated weather conditions, the indigenous breeds do not perform well. The Mongolians are therefore turning to more resistant breeds and the Lorraine Merino seems to be the ideal animal. The sheepfold system is also being closely observed by Mongolian buyers who were not familiar with this method of operation.
Thus, a month ago, by plane, our ewes from the Saulnois made a long journey to find themselves in the Mongolian countryside and graze peacefully in the steppes of Central Asia.
Last Sunday, the buyer, Dashzeveg Luvsandorj, accompanied by a representative of the Mongolian Ministry of Agriculture, a veterinarian and his translator came to Guébling, to the farm of Joseph Rémillon, one of the Saulnois breeders involved in the project, for a courtesy meeting and to work after the sale.
Next February, our breeders will travel to the land of Genghis Khan for a technical follow-up at lambing time.
"Geode exports sheep to Iran and Mongolia"
Specialising in sheep genetics, the Montmorillonnaise cooperative Géode has just sent sheep to Mongolia and is preparing others for Iran.
Created some forty years ago in Montmorillon to meet the needs of a growing sheep industry, the Géode cooperative, which specialises in the genetic selection of the best animals, is now turning its attention to foreign markets and is enjoying success well beyond Europe.
In November, a batch of 117 animals flew to Mongolia: "The Mongolian Ministry of Agriculture is looking to increase the productivity of the flocks," explains Guy-Gérard Merlande, President of Géode, "with pilot farms where they will carry out matings between the local breeds and our selected breeding animals. This explains the multitude of breeds they have bought (Suffolk, Romanov, Romanes, Charolais, Ile de France, Texel and Lacaune Milte): each breed has its advantages in relation to the environment, and they will see which crossbreed gives the best adaptation to their conditions.
"We have the best genetics in the world
At the beginning of June, 300 other animals selected from the 220 member farms of Géode will be flown to Iran. This is the second time that the cooperative has exported to this country, which is modernising its agriculture thanks to the lifting of economic sanctions. In April 2015, 750 sheep and goats had already reached Iranian farms. This new contract is different from the first one," explains Guy-Gérard Merlande, "this time we are selling to a foundation. As in Mongolia, their objective is to improve the productivity of their breeds, to produce more meat per quantity of fodder consumed.
In this field, French quality stands out: "It's simple: we have the best genetics in the world," explains Philippe Feugère, Géode's administrator. We have a national database and we can trace each animal back five or six generations.
This richness is due first of all to the variety of the herds: "We have kept about fifty breeds, even if we have lost many. This is thanks to the people who fought to maintain them at a time when everything was focused on standardising the legs. If we only had three breeds left today, we would be screwed. This is a problem for our (dairy) cattle colleagues, where there are almost only Prim'holsteins left.
[Géode intends to develop exports, but its first market remains, by far, that of French farms, which have specific expectations: "Our farmers are now looking for animals that are hardier, more resistant to parasites, more autonomous [parturition, suckling lambs] and therefore less expensive.
"Back to basics for the Charmoise breed"
An exceptional sale of Charmoise rams took place yesterday in Fontaines-en-Sologne. A breed born in Pontlevoy in the 19th century.
We now have ram number nine who enters the ring, an animal that will bring you dairy value, watch the legs carefully!In her microphone, Geneviève Bouix, director of the selection body Geode (*), details the characteristics of the fifty-four rams put on sale this Wednesday in Fontaines-en-Sologne. All the dairy and butchery qualities of these representatives of the Charmoise breed were examined with a fine-tooth comb.
A cousin of the Solognese breed, it was born in Pontlevoy in the 19th century, "thanks to the enlightened mind of Edouard Malingié", explains Bernard Salvat, breeder in Parthenay, in the Deux-Sèvres, and president of the Charmoise section at the Geode. This is a return to the roots for this sale, which took place at the agricultural college in Montmorillon, in the Vienne, in previous years.
"The charmoise is adapted to the evolution of the market
"The best lambs from each breeder were grouped together on 3 May and raised in the same way for 90 days," explains François Bernard, who was chosen to "station" the rams. "You have to take care of them, you are responsible for the lambs of others, it is quite stressful. But you have to do this breed a favour. "This allows them to express their genetic potential," explains Bernard Salvat. The sale took place at the end of the three month period and eighteen buyers came from all over France to participate, from Aveyron to the Ardennes, and even from Great Britain.
The average bid was 420 euros, with some going for 800 euros.
The Charmoise breed has been experiencing a revival of interest for several years. "It is a species with a small carcass size and good meat quality. Nowadays, we are no longer large families around a leg of lamb, so the size of the charmoise is well adapted to the evolution of the market," says Bernard Salvat. This is confirmed by Chantal Florentin, a breeder of this breed since 2002 in the Ardennes, "I don't regret my purchase fifteen years ago at all".
In total, thirty-one sheep will have found buyers out of fifty-four.
(*) Ovine genetics and development.
[800 euros is the record price reached by the few most expensive rams yesterday in Fontaines-en-Sologne. "I paid a lot of money, but I got number 25, and that's the one I wanted," explains Gilles Roux, a breeder from Charmoix in the Creuse region for four generations. He is part of the breed standards, "but his neck is perhaps a little too long," he regrets, "there is no perfect sheep anyway.
"In Charly (18), the Berrichon du Cher resists"
Iran, a new economic Eldorado for Limousin breeders?
The lifting of economic sanctions against Iran offers significant, if not unsuspected, economic opportunities that the Limousin region hopes to take advantage of.
After grazing in the meadows of Saint-Etienne-de-Fursac, some forty male sheep from the Creuse took a plane a few months ago to an experimental farm in the Iranian mountains, at an altitude of 1,800 metres. This is a great story for Michel and Catherine Bataille, sheep farmers in eastern Creuse.
For if the lifting this summer of financial sanctions against Iran, a giant of some 80 million inhabitants, awakens the covetousness of major industrial groups such as PSA, Renault, Total and Airbus, it also offers opportunities in a multitude of other sectors, starting with agriculture.
French genetics are coveted
In France, there are now only two farmers raising Romanov ewes. A breed of Russian origin, introduced into France in the 1960s to benefit from its prolificity, but whose legs, longer than those of other breeds, are less valued.
It was in 2003, after half their flock was decimated by scrapie, that Michel and Catherine Bataille decided to use pure Romanovs. The couple had known about this breed since the 1990s, having crossed Romanov ewes with Ile-de-France males. "We wanted to start with a pure breed and we chose this one for its performance in terms of births and also to avoid it falling into oblivion", explains the breeder from Creuse.
The breeding talents of the Russian-born sheep have not left foreign countries unmoved. And after Canada, where the Bataille couple had sent seeds, it was Iran that became interested in the Romanov breed. At the beginning of 2014, the first contacts were established with Iranian investors, via the Geode (GÉnetique Ovine de DÉveloppement) cooperative in Montmorillon, in the Vienne region, to which the farmer belongs. "We have the best selection schemes in the world in France and many foreign countries are interested in French genetics," confirms Arlette Brachet, director of this national organisation recognised by the Ministry of Agriculture.
Until now, Iran's 70 million ewes have mainly come from nomadic flocks. The experimental project led by several Iranian investors aims to sedentarise sheep farming. "To develop productivity and make their project move forward more quickly, they needed a prolific breed," explains Michel Bataille, who sees this project as "a great challenge and recognition of the work done.
To carry out their initiative, the Iranian project holders brought in a thousand ewes and sheep in three flights, including some forty Romanov rams from the Bataille couple's farm.
A first test that could lead to others in the months to come. "Investors are encouraged by the Iranian Ministry of Agriculture and we already have offers for 2016," says Arlette Brachet.
The Iranian government's objective is to reduce open-air farming, which increases water problems in these dry regions, and to move towards more intensive breeding of lambs for sheep, which is better able to meet their needs.
An outlet in which French agriculture in general, and Limousin agriculture in particular, could have a say.
Interview: "Iran is a country of the future, open to Western products
Noury Boualem is an international advisor for the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Limoges and Haute-Vienne. He reports on the new commercial opportunities in the Middle East.
Iran, a new economic Eldorado for Limousin breeders? (continued)"
Which Limousin companies are present in the Middle East?
"Historically, of course, it is the porcelain manufacturers who have been present on these markets, but also some food product companies. Madrange, for example, has been exporting ham for more than 15 years to the Emirates, Qatar and a little to Kuwait, essentially for the expatriates who live in these countries. Limousin also exports apples, jam, mushrooms, condiments, interior decoration items... The region also exports services. The Haras de Pompadour, for example, works with stud farms in these countries where people are very attached to horses.
Does the case of the Saint-Étienne-de-Fursac breeders open up new trade routes for the region's companies?
"Traditionally, Middle Eastern markets were known as niche markets for luxury and high-end products. Today, these countries are able to accept mid-range products. The market of the future is indeed Iran, even if there is still a lot to be done on the geopolitical level. It is a huge market of 70 million people who have a certain purchasing power and who are open to Western products. The other country with a future is Qatar, but it is a small market. It's much more complicated for Egypt and Lebanon, which are currently in turmoil.
What is the region doing to help companies set up in these markets?
"Actions have been carried out over the last twenty years to bring companies to these countries. There was a first wave of companies that benefited from this support from the regional council over ten years. But overall, the companies remain in the framework of markets of opportunity. They are not in a more permanent implantation logic. It's difficult for small companies that always need intermediaries to set up shop, and these intermediaries have their own interests...".
How can this situation be remedied?
"We are working on a project to create a commercial channel for SMEs that do not have the means to have their own structure. This channel would make it possible to import Limousin products to distribute them directly, without waiting for a distributor to do so.
Will there be a future economic mission to the Middle East?
"Yes, in 2016, we are planning an operation in the United Arab Emirates and Iran.
Anne-Sophie Pédegert & Maxime Escot
"At the show, the Solognot ram is snapped up!"
Some 70 rams were on sale yesterday in Neung-sur-Beuvron. A sort of game of 10 families, very supervised, for the preservation of the species.
The Sologne rams were up early yesterday morning in Neung-sur-Beuvron. Even more so, the breeders, some of whom had not hesitated to make an eight-hour round trip to take part in the big sale of Geode, the sheep genetic selection and development organisation.
In the boxes, 68 Solognots, separated by families. In this game of families, it is better not to let yourself be led by chance, reminds the sale organiser: we are not joking about the risks of inbreeding.
Preserving the species
At the end of the 2-hour sale, some people left empty-handed, like Alain Rousseau, from Orléans. "The prices are prohibitive in relation to the use I have of them", deplores the amateur breeder from the Loiret, who was expecting a price range of 200 euros when he arrived. The fixed price is actually 330 euros.
And setting the price is not always enough. Breeders who bring in rams are given priority, followed by breeders who are involved in performance testing, members, and finally, in fourth place, the "users". Arlette Brachet, the director of Geode, had warned before the sale started: "It's going to be a very active sale, better not to wait until the end".
It will be a very active sale, better not to wait until the end." It will also be very dense, since the number of rams offered was up by 20% compared to the usual sales. We have a breed that is progressing," said the specialist in sheep genetics. Today, people involved in the landscape, eco-pasture, even for military land are interested in the Solognot sheep," like Philippe Feugère, who came from Bourget to choose two new rams for his Plaine Environnement farm, where no less than 150 Solognot sheep are now grazing...
The family 7 prized this year
Françoise Colson, for her part, travelled from Saône-et-Loire to Sologne, as she has done every year for the past 19 years. The aim: to ensure the reproduction of her herd, a "rustic breed, which adapts well to wet soil, and a very beautiful breed", above all, she appreciates. While waiting for the turn of family 7, five animals, targeted by at least 4 breeders, she observes the rams, "the size, the general aspect of the animal, if it is well conformed", but also the pedigree of the animal, its breeding index, score, plumbness, shoulder, right up to the "leg" evaluation, which appears in the sales catalogue. Some breeders came from far away, from the Drôme or the Jura in particular, but not all of them will leave with the desired ram.
For Françoise Colson, it will be the second choice after a draw. In any case, she will have been able to meet old acquaintances again: her own rams, sold at a previous sale. Between Solognots, we always stay a bit in the family...
"Hundreds of goats and sheep from France on their way to Iran"
The French government has announced that it is considering the possibility of sending a new batch of sheep and goats to Iran as part of a programme to intensify livestock farming, an exceptional market for the region's sheep farms, a sector official said on Wednesday. The batch of 632 goats and 113 sheep is mostly from farms in the Vienne and Deux-Sèvres (Poitou-Charentes).
"This is the biggest market to date for Géode," said Arlette Brachet, director of the Géode (Génétique et Développement) selection body in Montmorillon (Vienne). Géode has signed "a partnership and exclusivity contract, which is part of a cooperation agreement between the Ministries of Agriculture" of France and Iran, said Arlette Brachet.
In Montmorillon (Vienne), where GEODE is based, this export outside the European Union is also a first. "This is the first time we have sent so many animals so far (5500 km), apart from Guadeloupe," added Arlette Brachet. The organisation was "contacted in February 2013 by the Iranian Ministry of Agriculture", which is carrying out "a breeding intensification programme" and wants to move from nomadic breeding to more intensive breeding, "gathering sheep in fertile irrigated areas", with "adapted breeds", she explained.
And it is in the Poitou-Charentes region that they have found these animals: "Saanen and Alpine" goats, "Romanov", "Suffolk" and "Rouge de l'Ouest" ewes. These animals were selected for their reproductive, dairy and butchery qualities.
They left on Monday morning from a farm in Lusignan (Vienne) and the sheep farm in Montmorillon (Vienne) to be transported by truck to Cologne airport in Germany, where they embarked on Tuesday evening for Tehran.
Another order from Iran, for 300 goats, should be finalised by the end of the year.
"Natural deseasoning - Berrichon de l'Indre, a breed without artifice"
Natural deseasoning - Berrichon de l'Indre, a breed without artifice
The Parry family has been using the Berrichon de l'Indre breed for 30 years. A maternal, docile ewe that does not need sponges: three qualities appreciated by these breeders in the Centre.
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Lambing is easy because the lambs are long and the ewes have plenty of milk.
Lambing is easy because the lambs are long and the ewes have plenty of milk. - L.GEFFROY
Three quarters of the sheep breeds de-season thanks to hormones, whereas the Berrichon de l'Indre ewe de-seasons without sponges", testifies Brigitte Parry, from Martizay in the Indre. The farmer, who also grows cereals, has been using the breed since she set up her business some 30 years ago. She started with 100 ewes and 22 hectares, after training at the shepherds' school in Montmorillon, in the Vienne. She is a fervent defender of the ewe, which she discovered during her training. "I wanted to follow in the footsteps of my father, who had dairy cows, because it was better than working in a sewing factory like my neighbours," she explains.
Since 1999, her son Gwen has joined her in the Gaec Parry. He became the head of the farm and increased the surface area to 180 hectares (including 34 hectares of forage area) and increased the sheep flock to 280 ewes. Gwen wanted to keep the sheep workshop and especially the Berrichon de l'Indre breed, even though it is not very common. "With another breed, I would have had fewer ewes because of the workload," he explains. This large ewe is a good walker, docile and easy to handle. Her maternal qualities are appreciated by Gwen. "Lambing is easy because the lambs are long and the ewes have plenty of milk. We don't use any bottles. On the other hand, we do a lot of adoptions, which requires us to be present at the right time. The farmers go round the sheepfold several times at night during lambing season to avoid ewes stealing lambs from each other.
Gaec Parry's main lambing takes place in the autumn in the sheepfold, and the smallest for ewe lambs in January-February. "With this breed, you can lamb whenever you want, but if you don't sell directly, as the conformation of the lambs is average (R2/R3), it's better to sell at a time when there are few lambs on the market, between Christmas and Easter," explains Jean-François Renaud, a technician at the Indre Chamber of Agriculture. Gwen Parry sells his lambs in Baronet via the GIE Berry-Limousin. Despite all its advantages, the Berrichon de l'Indre has only 800 purebred ewes left. The number declined when the beef breeds arrived in the department.
"The salesmen thought that the lambs looked like goats and didn't want them, they told us that we had to make a leg of lamb," recalls Brigitte. Today, this low number of animals forces the six professional breeders, all of whom are located in the department - except for one in the Landes - to use a reasoned mating plan with software developed by the Institut de l'élevage for small breeds, in order to better manage reproduction and avoid inbreeding. Amateur" breeders who have a few ewes are also included in the programme.
The breed is looking to recruit new breeders, even for small flocks. For a long time it was carried by three breeders," recalls Brigitte. It ran out of steam but since it was taken over by the Geode (1) selection organisation four years ago, there is more follow-up. The breeders are playing the game and declaring the males and females put into the fight. Next year, an additional family will bring the number to 10, as a breeder of 400 ewes introduced 40 Berrichons de l'Indre into his flock this year to produce in the off-season. This will make it easier to rotate the rams. The breeding centre is located on the Martizay farm and it should be noted that all the rams that come in have been marketed for two years. Some breeders use the Berrichon de l'Indre ewe in crossbreeding with Île-de-France rams or other beef breeds.
For example, Gaec Parry recently sold 30 ewe lambs to a breeder in the Vendée who plans to cross with Vendéen sheep because he is tired of putting down sponges, with average results. "The breed meets today's requirements, with larger farms, less labour and less intervention in the flock," says Jean-François Renaud.
As far as feed is concerned, the advantage of the breed is that it makes good use of roughage such as straw. Originally, they were raised in the Champagne Berrichonne region and fed on crop by-products. This is still the case at Martizay, as the ewes are fed with hay and straw, cereals and peas produced on the farm.
Key figures for 2009 for Gaec Parry
. Average number of ewes: 280
. Loading: 1.24 LU/ha
. Prolificity : 172 % .
. Productivity : 159 % .
. Feed costs per ewe : 38 euros
. Concentrates per mother-lamb pair : 180 kg
. Average selling price of the lamb : 104, 21 euros
. Average weight per lamb : 18,7 kg
. Marketed via GIE Berry Limousin, in Baronet du Limousin