During the visit of the Belgian delegation to the Pôle de Lanaud, Julien Mante, artistic director of the France Limousin Sélection, an organization for the genetic improvement of the limousine breed. “In France, the pile of limousines has seen the biggest increase since World War II,” says Julien Mante. In 1965, there were only 285,000 suckling cows in our southern neighbors, but at the beginning of 2022 their number increased to 1,102,097 animals. Thus, the number of cows quadrupled in half a century.
It is now the second most important breed of cattle in France, after the Charoli breed.
5% of French breeders approve of their animals
Looking at the composition of the French limousine stock in relation to breeder participation in genetic improvement, we see that 80% of breeders do not record additional data outside the legal framework for genetic improvement. Indicates the calf’s birth, gender, mother’s name and date of birth. “Talking about genetics when 50% of the genealogy book is missing gets complicated.”
11% record some additional data, such as the father’s name – for the complete genealogical book – as well as performance regarding birth conditions (assisted or unassisted birth, birth weight and breast size). This information allows them to choose a breeding stock based on their ability to produce light calves for males or on their ability to give birth well to cows.
4% of breeders adhere to the “Bovins croissance” program, which consists in monitoring the growth of calves in order to assess the potential of animals in terms of weaning, the milking potential of cows, as well as the shape of these animals. This information makes indexing possible.
Finally, 5%, or 1,394 of limousine breeders who comply with the “Bovins croissance” program, are also members of the Limousine Breeding Book. This allows them to obtain certificates for their animals in the Horse Book and to trade their livestock.
Paul de Lanaud
Founded in 1991, the Pôle de Lanaud is a venue entirely dedicated to the limousine family.
All important bodies from this sector are collected here: the National Qualification Station, the Selection Organization (France Limousin Sélection), the Limousin Directory, Ingenomix, which offers genetic tests that allow a person to predict genetic potential from birth, as well as the Limousin Park, amusement park for agri-tourism.
Julien Manti: “One of the tasks of the France Limousin Sélection is to determine the future vision of limousine cattle. The first thing to do is to maintain a balance between the suitability of limousin cows as a slaughter animal and their maternal qualities. Improving everything is not only complicated, but also takes time.
Since not all parameters can be improved at the same time, choices have been made to increase lactation capacity and growth and improve muscle growth while maintaining ease of delivery.”
Selection program in 3 steps
The selection program is done in 3 steps.
First, the selection is made at the level of herds belonging to the limousine herd book. This is the 1,394 breeders, 107,000 suckling cows and 3,000 bulls evaluated by Iboval. The young bulls are then evaluated based on their performance before being subjected to genetic analysis, allowing them to be classified according to genetics for later sale.
The insemination portion is the final stage of the selection programme, with the offspring of bulls tested by Crealim, the independent organization responsible for administering the selection scheme on the offspring.
In the Pôle de Lanaud, 3 aides and agencies have been deployed.
First, there is the Iboval program, which enables indexing of suckling cows on farms. About 2,400 farms use this software, which means 130,000 cows and 6,000 bulls are indexed.
In addition, there is a selection center. About 700 of the most promising bulls prove their worth every year in Lanaud. They are supervised on the same terms for 5 months. Roughly half of them will qualify as young bulls, 40% will “promise” and 10% will not qualify for the four annual auctions scheduled for November, January, March and June. The sale enables breeders to replenish their flocks with a balanced breeding stock.
Finally, Crealim examines the offspring of 10 pollinated bulls each year, to qualify only 3 to 5 of them for their maternal traits. Thanks to this body, the best bulls can be widely distributed.