A Journey to Brittany
I was very surprised when, in late summer of last year, I was invited to the national exhibition in Rennes by the UPRA Maine-Anjou. I was also asked to act as a judge for the first valuation class.
And so, at the beginning of September, I set off for Brittany. The first leg of my journey led me to Lorraine because Antoine Hild, a German-speaking breeder near Metz, wanted to accompany me. The following day, we made our way to Rennes. With a 7.5 ton truck loaded with a 1,300 kilo bull belonging to Christian Perrin, we made our way to the show. Our road led us south of Paris past Anger and Orleans towards Rennes. We passed expansive farmlands cultivated with grains and alfalfa, which are dried to pellets in large drying plants. Many fields were irrigated. In all of Central France we did not see a single cow. Only when we arrived in Mayenne, in the far West of France, did we finally see cattle of many different breeds, among them large herds of Maine-Anjou. Although they were left on rather withered pastures, they seemed to be in surprisingly good condition.
On our way we saw what would happen if Germany introduced toll charges for all vehicles – empty motorways in excellent condition and congested federal and country roads. On our route, we had to pay more than 100.00 Euro in toll charges.
We arrived on the exhibition grounds in Rennes late in the evening. We were surprised at the relaxed and friendly manner in which the vets processed us at this late hour. Apart from Maine-Anjou, the halls also held other breeds, such as Montebillard, Normande, Fleckvieh, Jersey and Blue-Whites, as well as a few others. The Space Rennes, as the exhibition is called, is one of the bigger agricultural exhibitions in France. Besides cattle, there was a lot more to see and from rabbits to horses the exhibition had quite a lot to offer. Additionally, many agricultural engineering companies were represented. The day ended late and full of impressions.
The following day was the day of the Maine-Anjou breeding competitions. Overall, 12 valuation classes were judged and some impressive cows and bulls were presented. I was tasked with judging valuation class 9, which selected a champion from cows that were conceived through insemination. In my opinion, it was a strong group with very even-tempered animals sired by Ijou, Belfort, Uno, Dacodac, and Utile. My favourites were two daughters of the sire Ijou and one excellent young daughter of Belfort. I decided for a 9 year old lively, dark red Ijou daughter, a cow every breeder would be proud to own.
After the breeding competitions, I still had enough time to deepen and advance the French-German contacts. Finally, I would like to thank our hosts for the friendly reception and my friend Antoine Hild for acting as my interpreter.
Reimund Lesen, board member Maine-Anjou Verband Deutschland e.V.