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Mid-Congress tour on wednesday 25th

Trips A: Beef and dairy cattle in upland area

This trip will start at 8:00 AM and will bring you in famous temperate grasslands in volcano areas in Massif Central.
In all trips A1, A2 and A3, a buffet lunch will be organized with local products in the Marcenat experimental farm.

Trip A1 – Mountain pastures and dairy production and product


The trip will associate a visit of a farmhouse Saint-Nectaire cheese manufacturer using a summer mountain pasture area neighboring the Puy de Sancy, the highest summit of Massif Central (in the morning) and a visit of the INRA experimental farm of Marcenat (in the afternoon).

Saint-Nectaire is a famous semisoft washed rind cheese manufactured in dairies or farms in the small area of the volcanic plateau of Mont-Dore. PDO granted, the Saint-Nectaire is the first farmhouse cheese in France, manufactured twice a day often by women. It is made with unpasteurized milk produced by Montbéliarde, Holstein and sometimes Salers cows mainly fed diverse mountain grasslands. This local traditional cheese is essential for maintaining the rural life in this mountain area.

Located at 1100 m a.s.l., the Inra experimental farm of Marcenat is part the Saint-Nectaire area. This mountain dairy farm is one of the locations of the Inra Monts d’Auvergne Experimental Unit. Researches focus on dairy cows’ production systems in highly diversified mountain grassland and on milk and cheese qualities. A current experiment aiming at designing and testing very low input grassland farming systems will be presented.

Trip A2 – Mountain pastures and beef sheep and cattle


The trip will start in the morning by a visit of the INRA experimental farm of Laqueuille where beef sheep and cattle graze mountain pastures in the attractive landscapes of the Mont Dore area. In the afternoon, a visit in a beef mountain farm rearing Salers cows is organized. 

The mountain experimental farm of Laqueuille is one of the locations of the Inra Monts d’Auvergne Experimental Unit. A flock of Romane beef sheep and Salers and Charolaise beef cows exploit        a vast mountain grassland area. Researches focus on beef innovative production systems including full outdoor management, animal performances and lamb meat quality related to animal feeding. The researchers involved will present the current experiments.

With its mahogany (dark-red) coat and large lyre-shaped horns, the Salers cow is emblematic from the Auvergne area. This dual purpose breed is mainly reared for meat in extensive farms exploiting the vast summer mountain pasture area of the Auvergne plateau. The visit will take place in the summer quarter of a farm involved in the cooperative “Acajou des Volcans”, a collective initiative of farmers aiming at promoting the high quality Salers meat.

Trip A3 – Mountain pastures and ecosystem services .

The trip will associate a visit of a study site on GHG balance and carbon storage in pasture located in the INRA experimental farm of Laqueuille (in the morning) and a visit of a natural protected area grazed by sheep (in the afternoon).

In the experimental farm of Laqueuille, INRA investigate the interacting effects of inter and intra-annual climate variables and grazed practices on GHG (CO2, CH4 and N2O) exchanges to assess the C sequestration potential of upland grasslands. The site is equipped with a meteorological station, a fast response sonic anemometer and an open-path CO2–H2O analyzer (ICOS and SOERE label).


The natural Reserve of the ‘Rocher de la Jaquette’ aggregates on a little area a wide variety of environments: cliffs, dry grasslands, heaths, and forests favoring the presence of many species of insects. The manager of the Reserve from the regional natural Park of the Auvergne Volcanos will detail the agro-pastoral practices implemented with sheep for the conservation of the environments.

Trip B: Sheep production in Mediterranean area

This trip will start at 7:00 AM and will bring you in the world-wide known Roquefort production area in the south of Massif Central.  


Roquefort is the first French denomination of Origin (since 1925), today AOP. The corresponding product is a blue cheese made of unpasteurized sheep milk (from the Lacaune breed) collected in farms about 100 km around the village of Roquefort S/Soulzon and exclusively matured in natural caves in the village. All farmers and dairy industrial are united in the “Roquefort General Confederation”, which organizes and promotes Roquefort production and the associated research.

La Fage is an INRA experimental research station of the Genetic department, which was founded in the 1970s to support Roquefort production. In order to exploit rangelands, a full-outdoor meat sheep farming system was also implemented. Since more than 30 years, La Fage associates scientists of various disciplines to improve the aptitudes of the Lacaune breed for Roquefort production, and to design a productive meat sheep farming system based upon rangelands.

The trip will associate a visit of the caves and a discussion with representatives of the Roquefort General Confederation (in the morning) with a visit of the experimental station (in the afternoon).

Mid-congress tour map

Written by: jmfao col
Date of creation: 11 February 2014
Date of last update: 13 February 2014