Disappointed by the promotion of dairy calves, Matthieu Gourlin, a breeder in the Aisne (02) began crossbreeding meat, then fattening crossbred oxen to improve meat from milk on his farm.
“As long as it doesn’t affect my renewal strategy, I develop the meat,” sums up Matthieu Gourlin, dairy farmer in the Aisne. Using the sperm of sex to ensure herd renewalthe breeder now inseminates 80% of the cows with him beef bulls.
Thus, Matthieu Gourlin raises, in addition to about thirty replacement heifers, about twenty crossbred oxen and heifers. Excess calves are sold as crosses at three weeks. “When all is well, they start at around 150 to 250 euros, compared to 30 to 60 euros for Prim’Holstein calves,” explains the breeder. If the sale of crossbred calves is the first solution to promote calves from dairy mothers, the fluctuations of this market have convinced him to fatten some of the crosses himself. Recently I sold a female Inra for 80 euros and a male for 150 euros, at that price you can keep them too…”.
With the introduction of a milking robot, the breeder uses his pastures less than in the past. “Today I no longer cross the road with the herd, I have between 7 or 8 ha of pasture that has become vacant and with the intensification of dairy farming, animals graze less. » Creating a small meat factory therefore, it has made it possible to increase this area. However, it is impossible to produce more than twenty crossovers a year: “it is an addition”, he explains. “Increasing the stock of beef cattle would mean taking the risk of running out of fodder in dry years for the rest of the herd.”
The breeder produces about twenty crossbred bulls and heifers (© Terre-net Média)
A simple and economical technical route
Crusader breeding is thought to be SIMPLE AND prosperous. whether the milk stage replacement heifers are made from milk powder to avoid paratuberculosis problems, breeder prefers milk from his cows for breastfeeding crusaders.
From 2.5 to 6 months, crosses are raised in the same way as replacement heifers, on pellets and straw. As soon as carrying capacity allows, calves and heifers are taken to pasture for their 7 months and remain there as long as possible (generally mid-April to early December). One month after they are placed in the pasture, the calves are brought worms. of castration male calves, performed by the veterinarian, also occur at this time, between 6 and 8 months of the animal.
For simple managementwinter feeding, the breeder distributes to the crosses the same ration as dairy cows in a smaller percentage. “I give them about a third of the ration, minus the concentrate. It is not mandatory, just put a little more in the bowl.
Small carcasses rated well
Animals are sold at the age of 2 years, for a weight of 290 to 320 kg carcassand were rated approx €5/kg in 2022. “There I find benefits because my reproduction system is well organized and I manage to develop meat-type animals without having to make any specific investment”, explains Matthieu Gourlin.
The breeder prefers to sell beef cattle instead of sale of breeders, which he has practiced in the past. “I was selling about ten pregnant heifers or lactating cows for about 1,200 euros (average price over the last ten years), but that requires a lot more investment, either in terms of health, genetics, not to mention the time to spend. sale”, evaluates the breeder who made the biggest turnover with oxen in 2023, for less investment. “It remains to be seen how prices will behave in the long term,” he said.
Raising cattle also allows him to use autumn grass, with heifers brought in earlier to ensure performance and calving work for two years.
The breeder does not have a hard time annihilate his crusaders from traders. “These are small corpses obviously quite valued and which present a good value for money the breeder notes.
Belgian Blue and Inra crosses are more dedicated to breeding fattened calves, Angus is more suitable for fattening grass cattle. “I am surprised by the weight of the Angus at 24 months, they are not too big, but quite thick and have a good carcass yield,” the breeder appreciates.