On environmental issues, ruminants no longer have a very good press!
Accused of emitting greenhouse gases and occupying too much farmland, we often forget that they have their qualities and their faults. They belch methane and occupy space because they are able to digest the grass in their rumen, grass which has multiple ecological advantages and which remains widely present in the rations of herbivores in France (60% on average) .
The 13 million hectares of meadows occupying 1 / 5th of the French territory and the hedges which surround them constitute carbon sinks, water filters and reservoirs of biodiversity. Likewise, the presence of livestock farming in addition to crops and meadows has many agronomic advantages: they use straw and by-products from crops and in return enrich the soil with their dung, droppings and dung. This part aims to give a global vision of the positive and negative impacts of herbivorous productions.
Productions with long cycles by nature, the milk and meat of herbivores are produced in France on farms spread across the country and which have adapted to the pedoclimatic, historical conditions and resources of each region. The herds per farm are 50 cows on average, or about 100 animals when there are males, females and renewal.
Linked to the soil and largely based on grass, the breeding of herbivores as practiced in France tends to respect proven principles of agronomy: complementarities between animals / meadows / crops and the practice of “mixed-farming-breeding”, allowing diversified crop rotations and a return of organic matter to the soil. Manure management over the past 20 years has also improved water quality.
Livestock also has ecological functions through the shaping of diverse landscape mosaics and the preservation of semi-natural areas such as hedges and meadows favorable to biodiversity. These landscapes also have aesthetic value. The whole contributes to the quality of life in the breeding areas and to their residential and tourist appeal.