8 March 1996

Room for Herefords in cattle breeding arena

AS French beef margins are squeezed producers are starting to follow the UK example and cross dairy and beef breeds to produce a hardy, milky but fleshy suckled cow.

Traditionally the French have worked with pedigree stock. But these animals can take up to three years to finish as they have large frames which not only increase a farmers production costs, but also do little for his cash flow.

"The French have been working the wrong system for 40 years with beef breeds all following the same selection goal, for example, muscling, and it has taken ages to reach that stage," said Remi Fourrier, British Meats French director. "Now, under CAP, French producers are pushed to farm extensively and reduce costs so they are looking for hardy, easy calving suckler cows."

Mr Fourier has been trying to introduce the Hereford into France for 15 years with little success. But in light of the change in attitude – especially among the younger less traditional farmers – he feels now might be a better time.

Producers who are prepared to try the new system are crossing Salers or Normande with Limousin or Charolais, for example. "There is plenty of genetic material available but the French are too traditional," said Mr Fourrier.

Remi Fourrier has been trying to introduce the Hereford into France for 15 years.