25 breeds have their roots in the Hauts-de-France region. Not all of them made the trip to Paris for the agricultural show, but visitors discovered seven of them. Animals that are the pride of their breeders, here are their portraits.
They are called Flemish red, Northern blue, or Flanders giant, for visitors to the agricultural show, these breeds are often misunderstood despite their names evocative of their territory of origin. Our discovery of the day in the aisles of the show begins with the most imposing.
The cows, we find them in pavilion 1, the largest in the living room. Hauts-de-France offers visitors three breeds from the region.
This Monday, February 28 is a bit of their day of glory. The Flemish reds take part in the general competition. The most beautiful will be entitled to the flashes of the photographers and to all the attention. They are 16 to compete, presented by a dozen breeders from Hauts-de-France.
First criterion for the members of the jury, the breasts. The gait of the animal will also be important, it must be the most “graceful” possible.
To this game, the champion is called Orène, comes straight from Cassel in the North and is the pride of Emile-Henri Macke. “I’m very happy and surprised, I didn’t come to do extras but to have the first prize, I couldn’t believe it“says the young 23-year-old breeder at the end of the competition.
In his family, we have been present at the show since 1952. First his great-grandfather, then his grandfather. This 2022 competition was even opened in tribute to this breeder from the Ferme du Coucou, well known in the region. “I think he helped us a lot” specifies moved Emile-Henry, “in the family we have this race in the blood, a will to defend it at all costs.“
There are 1,500 of them, this breed is native to Belgian Brabant and Hainaut and French Hainaut. To Both a dairy cow and bred for its meat, the specimens that made the trip to Paris are under the protection of the students of the agricultural school of 3 Chênes, located in Quesnoy in the North. Alexis, Jauris, Axel and Dominique are apprentices in agricultural trades or retraining to become farm managers.
In their establishment, the blue ones of the North are “the only breed for processing” specifies Dominique Hardy. “Beyond milk, we make yogurts which are then sold or served in the school canteen. We also make cheeses with them, blue cheeses of course, but also tomes or mimolette.“
To 30 years old, Dominique is completing her training to take over the family farm near Fourmies in the North. A transition between his old job “at Renault” and his new professional future.
After the red and the blue, here is the blue white, a logic of the North? Perhaps not a purebred native of the region in the genetic sense of course, but which belongs to this territory. At the salon, it’s Valentin Cheveau who is taking care of this Monday. He represents with his comrades the breeding Quentin Le Roy. A breeder who does direct selling. Every year he presents his most beautiful cows at the agricultural show. Based in Aurelaune en Seine, Normandy, blue white cattle are his specialty.
They give meat lean in fat and rich in omega3, “a premium meat breed“explains Valentin, who is impatiently awaiting the general competition for his animals on Thursday, March 3. There is no doubt that the winner will be entitled to a special hug from him!
Pavilion 1 also allows us to discover another breed from Hauts-de-France, after cattle, here are sheep.
Here is a sheep whose cradle is the Nord department. The Boulonnais have a thin head, slightly bluish or reddish, ears erect in a cornet. This beef breed comes from crosses made in the 18th and 19th centuries between the artesian ewe with English rams to improve the wool.
After the First World War, the number was 170,000, but the development of agriculture gradually led to their reduction. In the North of France in 1963, there were only 15,000 left. Considered extinct in the 1980s, breeders like the Henneron mother and son, in Steenwerck in the North, managed to save the breed and re-expanded the workforce.
Let’s leave the main pavilion, head for hall 6 to meet the two equine breeds.
Here is a courageous, calm and attentive horse. It comes straight from French Hainaut and Flanders. His resistance and his vigor make him an outstanding traction operator. A sure and easy horse, with a gentle character. It offers an appreciable aptitude for dressage for breeders who are 80 for the Hauts-de-France region alone.
Of the nine draft equine breeds in France, the Northern traits are among the four most threatened, as is that of the Boulonnais.
It is certainly one of the oldest horse breeds in the region. Its origin dates back to 54 BC. Used for field work, wood hauling, recreational driving or beach cleaning, this horse is both vigorous and very elegant.
But the Boulogne breed is also threatened today by the small size of its population: 300 breeding mares, 60 stallions for 200 breeders. With the trait du Nord, these horses are now supported as part of the plan to safeguard and enhance the Haut-de-France region.
“It is essential to support breeders in their selection in order to preserve the genetic properties specific to each“explains Michel Marchyllie, director of Regional Natural Spaces, at the Hauts-de-France genetic resources center. “It is the whole regional identity of these breeds that is at stake, they represent an important capital of the region.“
A preservation that also requires the existence of an economic reality. Breeders and owners must be able to live from their activity. “Several experiments are currently underway in Hainaut, also near Saint-Quentindetails Michel Marchyllie, you can see, for example, people from Boulonnais on the coast participating in the cleaning of beaches or people from the North collecting waste in several municipalities in the region.“
Let’s end this album of Hauts-de-France breeds with “cutest bunnies“, according to the many reactions of children in front of this rabbit.
Did you know that a rabbit’s teeth grow throughout its life? Chewing fiber-rich foods, such as hay, allows him to wear them down regularly. Our giant from Flanders has plenty of them at its disposal.
The fur of this “giant” is of normal length for its breed, but it is its ears that catch the eye of visitors. Large and robust, their ideal length of 19 to 20 cm is well proportioned to the size of the animal.
An XXL rabbit whose weight varies from 6 to 10 kg. The Flanders giant average height is 80 cm but again some reach 120 cm!
Its origins date back to the 19th century, the breed being particularly suited to the needs of large families in the North of the time. With a particularly dietetic meat, this big rabbit was very useful for family meals and had the merit of not being very expensive to maintain. The grass picked in the morning by the children before going to work in the mine was enough to feed them.
This giant is now endangered, there are about 5,000 individuals and some specific farms are fighting to maintain this pretty breed. But if vou have fallen in love with this huge ball of fur and want to adopt one (its price is 120 to 144 euros), find out. Flanders giants have very specific needs and are as fragile as dwarf rabbits.