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Cattle Feeding in France

88% feed autonomy in dairy and meat stock farming

What do cows, heifers and calves eat in France? To


update knowledge on this subject, the Institut de
llevage (the French livestock breeders institute)
analyzed the farm data monitored in the framework
of its activities in partnership with Chambers of
Agriculture. Collected from 660 farms specialized
in cows milk and beef, these data provide a clear
picture of cattle rearing and feed practices.

While the composition of bovine rations varies considerably


according to the type of animal, its age, the season, the
region, and soil and weather conditions, average rations There are 224,000 cattle farms in France, with an average
allow one to identify the main families of feed distributed of 50 cows per farm.
and their proportions. Other cake 1.9 %

Soy cake 2.5 % Other by-products and foods 2.7 %


Grass Makes Up Two Thirds of Basic Diets Vitamins and minerals 0.7 %
Protein and oilseed crops 0.6 %
Ruminants are able to digest cellulose thanks to their
digestive systems. Approximately 80% of the food eaten Grains 5.4 %

by bovines is fodder: mainly in the form of grass (grazing Other fodder 2.2 %
or dried in the form of hay or silage) and corn silage. The Grazed grass
38.3 %
proportion of each varies according to the climate and Silage corn
soil of each region. On average, grass and corn silage 19.4 %
Source:

make up respectively 65% and 19% of the diets of dairy Average Share
ofFodder, Grain
In s t

and suckler (meat breeds) herds in France. These two


itut

B)
andPlant Proteins Conserved grass

UG
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types of fodder are produced almost entirely (98%) on- Eaten in France 26.3 %

t
l

ag
lev

en
al
farm. To balance their rations, animals are given calories byBovines onDairy e,
20
1 eq
uiv
2( tle
and Meat Farms in k
g of dry matter and by
cat
in the form of grain grown on-farm in most situations,
and plant proteins in the form of oilseed crops and plant
cake (soy, sunflower, colza). This portion of the ration is rest is purchased, and most is grown in France, except
concentrated feed. It accounts for 14% of the ration; for 2.5% of soy cake, imported mainly from the American
and an average of 28% of it is produced on-farm. The continent.

Soy Alternatives for Cattle: Silage By-Product


KEY TERMS

Levers and Room for Progress Method of conserving fodder Plant remnants left over after
(grass, corn, beet pulp and agrifood processing (sunflower,
In a 2009 study by the Ministry of the Ecology titled Relance more rarely sorghum), which colza or soy cake after the
des lgumineuses dans le cadre dun plan protine: quels is chopped and stored in an seeds have been pressed to
bnfices environmentaux (revival of legume crops as part air-tight silo. Reactions such extract oil, beet pulp after the
of a protein plan: what environmental benefits), 3 main levers as lactic fermentation and sugar has been extracted, bran
were identified to further reduce the use of soy in bovine acidification (as in the making obtained after grain has been
feed: incorporate fodder legumes (e.g. clover, alfalfa) into the of sauerkraut) help preserve ground into flour, etc.) that can
a large share of the fodders usually only be used as feed
diets of dairy cows, use more colza cake as a replacement
nutritional properties. for ruminants.
for soy and increase use of protein crops (e.g. peas, faba
beans) in beef cattle farms. Since 2010, a protein crop Fodder
support plan has been rolled out on the national scale to Plant or a mix of plants, grown mainly for its vegetative parts (leaves,
limit potentially-GMO soy cake imports for animal feed. stalks, roots) and destined primarily to feed ruminants.

The full study can be downloaded from the CIVs and the Institut de llevages websites. www.idele.fr
www.civ-viande.org
Beef Suckler Herds in France : 80% grassfed

Ruminants (cattle, sheep, goats) graze and eat the


grass from 10 million hectares of permanent pas-
ture and rangelands in France. Herds of suckling
cows (also called meat breeds) are found mainly
in these grasslands and meat breeds provide two
thirds of the beef produced in France.

Herbivores (cows, sheep, goats, horses) are raised


throughout France. This stock farming is notably located
in the disadvantaged zones where grass (pasture and
harvested) is the main source of fodder. Indeed, herbi-
vores, and in particular ruminants, are by nature able to
digest the grass that grows on non-cultivable land, which
they turn into milk and meat. In this way, they use 20%
of the countrys grasslands.
In France, grass makes up an average of 64% of cattle
feed (dairy and suckler herds combined), and an aver-
age of 80% of the feed of suckler herds. However, this

Meat Breeds: 80% Grass, of which 2/3 Grazed Suckler Herds of Meat Breeds are
92% Food Autonomy Found Mainly in Grassland Areas.
Soy cake 0.8 %
Other cake 1.1 % grassland areas
Protein and oilseed crops 0.4 % Other by-products and foods 2.0 %
Vitamins and minerals 0.4 %
Grains 5.1 %
Other fodder 2.3 %
percentage varies from region to region according to soil
potential and weather conditions. In grassland regions, it
Silage corn 8.0 % is on the order of 90%. In other regions more favorable
G B)

to crops, grass may be supplemented or even partially


ivalent U

Grazed grass
48.8 % replaced by other fodder such as silage corn, harvested
as whole plants and conserved through fermentation.
ttle equ

Average Share of Fodder, Conserved grass


Grain and Plant Proteins This fodder, distributed as a supplement in variable
y ca

31.1 %
db

Eaten in France by proportions, ensures the stocks needed to feed herds.


an

Bovines on Meat Farms.


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at
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So ry
urc fd
e: I k go
nstit
ut de l 2 (in
levage, 201
Suckler Stock
KEY TERMS

orHerd
Proportion of French bovines
Beef Consumption in France: raised exclusively for meat
theEquivalent of 2 Servings per Week production. In these stock farms,
cows milk is consumed directly
Half of the beef consumed in France comes from dairy herds and by the calves, hence the use of
half from suckler herds of meat breeds. Most is French in origin: the word suckler. They may
French stock farms provide 75% of French meat, 2/3 of which from also be referred to as meat
suckler herds. For the remainder, 22% comes from the European breeds.
Union (mainly cuts used to produce ground beef and cuts for grill-
ing from dairy cows). Only 3% of the beef consumed in France is
imported from countries outside Europe (South America, mainly). Average weekly per-capita beef
consumption among adults age 18 and over is 32 grams per day, or the equivalent of servings per
week (Source: CRDOC, CCAF 2010 Survey). It has dropped by 15% over the past ten years.

The full study can be downloaded from the CIVs and the Institut de llevages websites. www.idele.fr
www.civ-viande.org