France - Brittany

Brittany is the number one region for livestock production in France. In 2008, the region produced 57% of the national tonnage of pork, 42% of the eggs, one third of poultry meat, one quarter of the veal meat and 21% of the milk volume. Seven farms in ten are specialized in breeding, with a more intensive mode of production than in other regions. About 15,600 farms produce milk, this is 44% of all farms in Brittany of which 59% are specialized dairy farms. The others are mixed farms with beef cattle, pigs, poultry, etc.

Automatic milking is practiced by only 2% of the farms but is increasing fast. The annual decrease in the number of farms is about 3,5% since 2005

Environmental regulations and main constraints

In July 2009 the 4th Action program Nitrate Directive started. Permitted organic manure (including excretion during grazing) is 170 kg N/ha. Moreover, in ZAC (complementary areas of action – these areas were defined in 2002 as the upstream areas of watersheds where water intakes were above 50 mg/l), it is prohibited to spread more than 210 kg N/ha (organic and mineral). In each department, schedules define different periods between July and February when the application of fertilizers and manure is prohibited depending on the type of crops and the type of fertilizers.
All soils must be covered during the period of risk of nitrate leaching. Grass strips with a minimum width of 5 m must also be implemented along each waterway. The implementation of the Water Framework Directive requires a good ecological state of water for 2015. The objectives of water quality are even higher than those of Nitrate Directive.

Main constraints are the competition for land among farmers but also the acquisition of agricultural areas by individuals and communities, problems with nitrate concentration in rivers and proliferation of green algae in some bays of the Britain coast.

Water quality of the region

N: the nitrate levels in surface waters have decreased greatly over the past fifteen years but some points of the supervision net have still a qualification of bad state. Seven watersheds in ZAC have a specific reinforced legislation because of their bad state (the nitrate concentration is higher than the standard “raw water” set to 50 mg/l, more than 5% of time per year): cattle farms must not spread more than 160 kg N/ha (organic and mineral) and other farms must not spread more than 140 kg N/ha.
P: few problems with phosphorus in surface waters. Most of the points of the supervision net have a qualification of good or very good state. Nevertheless, 10 water impoundments are considered as eutrophic or at risk of eutrophication. A specific regulation about the balance of phosphorus fertilization has been imposed for most of farmers who are at the upstream of these water impoundments.

Average region information

Dairy farm size 77 ha
% grassland 41
% forage crops (maize…) 25
% others crops 34
Mineral fertilizer per ha 70 kg N
15 kg P205
Dairy cows 50
Milk per cow 7,700 kg
Milk quota 308,000 kg
Main diet of the cows 27% grazed grassland
73% silage+hay (mainly maize silage)
1,100 kg concentrate/cow
Time in pasture and period February – November but variable

Pilot Farms

  • Nico Kass Berzelterhaff 7543 Rollingen/Mersch
  • Marco Koeune 18a rue Laach 9655 Harlange
  • Gilbert Leider 24 rue Château 9146 Erpeldange
  • Berny Schroeder 81 Maison 9772 Troine
  • Thiry Claude 19 rue du Stade 4995 Schouweiler
  • Wirtz Agri 4 rue d'Olingen 6169 Eschweiler