Background : 3 generations of breeders
The Bourbouloux herd is situated in Corrèze, in the Uzerche/Lubersac area.
The story of the Bourbouloux herd goes back to 1968 when Jean Bourbouloux registered his first cows with the herd book. At the time, the herd was composed of about 40 cows born outdoors on the farm that spread over 42 hectares of land.
The GAEC was created in 1984 when Guy and Serge, Jean’s sons, started working on the farm. At the time, the total surface was 80 hectares of land.
The farm has grown regularly since to reach a total surface of 260 hectares and 180 calvings today.
Frame, fine bones and style
This is a good summary of the animals bred in the Bourbouloux herd. It all started with Goal purchased from Mr Chastanet in 1987. Goal was a breedy type bull with a good frame that bred very good heavy cows with strong breed characteristics. Heros, from Marcel Marcou in Corrèze, bred mixed breedy type progeny with wide and open pelvis areas and very “easy selling” bulls. Liseron from Mr Jamilloux in Haute Vienne was a breedy type bull that bred good milky daughters.
The bull that really stamped the herd was UronRRE, from Mr Beneyton-Laroudie, purchased in 1984 at Laplaud national station. The bull was part of the first selection of natural service bulls used for AI. Guy and Serge started taking part in shows with Uron and won their first most successful herd cattle exhibitor at the national show. He bred very good mixed breedy type females with very good maternal traits and strong breed characteristics. His daughters were hardy cows easy to use in outdoors conditions.
The story went on with Villy RRE that was born on the farm and collected for AI. An all-round mixed type bull that met with great success in shows and often won most successful herd cattle exhibitor with Urondaughters. The herd has won three other most successful herd cattle exhibitor at various national shows. Villy was also male champion in Paris in 1988 and 1989. As de Pic, a mixed type bull from Lanaud station, has bred a number of qualified progeny such as Ferry RRE and Delta RRE. Nebuleux, a mixed type bull that was born on the farm, bred daughters with a smaller frame but good muscle qualities.
Then the brothers purchased Talonnier (a Denis Dessalas bull) at a Prestige sale. He was a breedy type bull that bred very good milky females with good maternal traits. He also had good figures and would have been qualified if he had not been sold abroad. Vichy Ben RRE, an early maturing bull that has bred progeny with a lot of muscle and good pelvis areas, was purchased from Vincent Benoit. He was a natural service bull used for AI.
Dingo Ben,Fabian, Festival, Erable, Grizli and Ecrin are the bulls used in the herd today.
“I sometimes do AIs with semen of the older bulls that stamped our herd but I realize that the progeny do not look as good as before and are a bit out of date” says Guy Bourbouloux.
Shows and success
The Bourbouloux herd started participating in shows in 1982 and took part in the national show for the first time in 1987.
To sum things up :
26 participations at the Paris show
19 most successful herd cattle exhibitor at the National show since 1989 (3 times first, 10 times second, and 6 times third) and 7 championships
19 most successful herd cattle exhibitor at the county Correze show out of 21 partipations
And many more prizes
They were also awarded two butchers’ awards by Bovidoc (blason d’or “boeuf limousine”), the cooperative of which they are members, in 1994 and 2009.
They started working with polled genetics in 2001 when the Polled Excellence group was created by KBS Genetic.
They started with AIs of Canada and Ryde Uranos. The oldest (heterozygous) polled cow of the herd is a Ryde Uranos daughter. She has bred 4 calves, 2 polled ones and 2 horned ones. Then they took a giant leap forward with the purchase of the famous homozygous polled bull Tigris, together with Christian and Vincent Besse and the SCEA Domaine de Caramigeas. Tigris really stamped the herd with his mixed beefy type progeny. Their Tigrisdaughters are now first calvers. They have plenty of milk and their progeny look promising. A lot of Tigris sons and grand-sons were sold at Prestige sales and on the farms both in France and abroad.
“We started using polled genetics slowly but surely. We carefully selected animals for their qualities and not just because they were polled. We carefully planned the matings of our cows with the best frames and pelvis areas with polled bulls. That way we have bred polled animals easy to plan matings with”explains Guy.
They also use the heterozygous bull Clovisthat breeds mixed type animals with strong breed characteristics and females with a lot of milk and good maternal qualities.
The last bull that they have purchased is Declic-ben, born in the Vincent Benoit herd, once again together with Christian and Vincent Besse and the SCEA Domaine de Caramigeas. A promising bull that breeds mixed type progeny with very good pelvis areas and a great growth potential.
3 different winter housing systems
The Bourbouloux use 3 different winter housing systems.
The first one is outdoors all the year round, a popular way used in many herds in the limousin area. It works best with small groups of animals in order to avoid too much stamping and to ensure better living conditions for the animals. Before 1976 the whole herd was outdoors all the year round.
The second one is not as widely used : the animals can go in or out of the sheds as they wish. They started using this system in 1976 in order to have better working conditions. Sheds were built in the middle of the fields so that the cattle could come in or go out as they wish. They were built on solid elevated ground that allowed the water to drain off and on which the animals could easily walk. The feed was distributed inside the sheds.
– the animals are in better condition
– since the cattle can go in and out, they get to eat the first grass in the spring
– saving of straw
fewer health issues
– works better with february calvings
– cows with older calves suffer a bit more
The third system they use is for the cattle to be always indoors, a system that is also used a lot in the limousin region. This method is particularly suited for early calvings (September) as it is easier to look after the animals. The main drawbacks are the health issues and the high consumption of straw.
“The system I prefer is when the cattle can go in or out as they want. The indoors system is too expensive because of the health issues, even if we start the calving season earlier so that the calves are already strong enough when they go indoors for the winter. If we were running fewer cows, we would choose the “free to go as they want” system”, explains Guy.
A close relationship with KBS Genetic
The Bourbouloux family started working with KBS Genetic from the very beginning. They purchased heifers from Jean-Luc Kress in order to increase the size of the herd. The cooperative Bovidoc of which the Bourbouloux’ are members is one of KBS Genetic’s closest partner.
“Working with KBS is a very good thing for us : we were able to develop polled genetics and become well known of foreign buyers. What we really appreciate is that KBS buys from us and then we buy from them!” explains Guy Bourbouloux.
What about the future … ?
The future of the Bourbouloux herd looks promising. Amélie and Thomas, Guy’s children, are planning to join the GAEC.
With regards to genetics, their goal is to carry on breeding mixed animals with fine bones, style and calving ease. They are looking to breed not too heavy cows but carcasses weighing from 480 to 500 kilos. They are also planning to develop polled genetics even more and start a small polled herd of at least 30 cows that will be easy to manage with the aim of breeding quality homozygous animals.
They also intend to grow more cereals and straw to reachself-sufficiency.