SPACE Sees Rationalisation of French Industry

FRANCE - The vast majority of the big agricultural shows or trade fairs have opted to appear every two years, writes Stuart Lumb.
calendar icon 23 September 2008
clock icon 2 minute read

France's finest dairy cows are the focal point of the dairy sector at SPACE.

The French, naturally, like to be different and so the SPACE show, held in Rennes, continues to be held annually.

A host of equipment manufacturers display their wares, ranging from milking robots to ear tags.

In addition the focal point of the SPACE dairy area is a huge show ring where the country's finest dairy cows are paraded under the watchful eyes of row upon row of critical dairy producers.

French agriculture has always favoured family farms.

These farms rely on family labour, so such farms can survive when larger ones with many employees cannot.

Despite this rationalisation is taking place and dairy farms are getting bigger.

"In the 1970's the average French dairy herd had 10 cows," commented Alain Reocreux, export director for Brittany - based Olmix.

"Today the herd size ranges from 60-150 cows. In France the milk quota goes with the farm and so if a farmer wants more quota then he has to buy another farm.

"Most French milk goes into cheese and yoghurt manufacture rather than liquid consumption and hence milk quality is very important."

Vitalac is well known in Brittany as a specialist pig feed and supplements company.

Significantly, Vitalac has now moved into the dairy sector and is exporting products to the Middle East.

"The number of French dairy farms is decreasing but total cow numbers will remain the same so the average herd size is bound to increase" stated Dr Philippe Arzul, Vitalac's ruminant veterinary consultant.

"The trend to larger herds means that zero grazing based on grass and maize silage will become increasingly more common."

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