In the past, farming was done only in natural meadows and mountain pastures, which cover an area of about 5 million hectares; but it acquired greater importance due to the extension of artificial lawns (clover, alfalfa, etc.), the surface of which increased by 28% from 1892 to 1909, continuing to increase after 1918. It should be noted that the area of artificial fodder coincides with that of cereals (plains of the North, Brie and Beauce).
In the second half of the last century, French livestock, with the exception of donkeys, mules and sheep, was always on the rise. Decreased considerably during the war years, it slowly reconstitutes (as shown in the following table) although now circumstances are entirely favorable to it (increase in land left with natural grass, return to pre-war production for roots, beets and pulps, residues from sugar and alcohol factories).
Horses are bred in impermeable soils with a humid climate: in the West (Brittany, Normandy, Maine, Perche), in the North (Boulonnais, Flanders, Hainaut), in the East (Ardenne and Champagne Humide), in the center (Morvan, Nivernese, Charolais, Auvergne, Limousin), in the south-west (Landes and the village of Tarbes). The breeding of cattle requires abundant pastures, and is carried out in regions with a rainy climate, on impermeable soils or on the volcanic soils of the basalt plateaus and in the mountains (Brittany, Normandy, Limousin, Charolais, basalt plateaus of Cantal, Jura, Pyrenees, Alps).
According to Philosophynearby.com, small livestock (sheep) are content with short grasses that grow on calcareous, permeable soils (Champagne Pouilleuse, Large and Small Causses) or in regions with a Mediterranean climate (Languedoc and Provence). In some regions the sheep are raised in transhumant flocks, which are sent to the mountains during the summer (Alps, Pyrenees, Massif Central), and at the beginning of autumn they are brought back to the valleys and plains, where they spend the rest of the year. in the stables. In the countries where sheep are raised, and especially in the southern French Prealps, a real revolution took place when the communication routes developed, which made it possible to introduce chemical fertilizers and create in every part, with the help irrigation, artificial lawns. Now there is a tendency to abolish transhumance and to keep the flocks in the vicinity of the villages, even in the summer. They are no longer raised for wool, but for meat; and, on the other hand, the development of artificial meadows brings with it a decrease in the number of sheep and an increase in cattle.
The dairy, by its very nature, is limited to areas rich in pastures. The total annual production of cow’s milk, which in 1913 was estimated at 128 million hl., After a period of crisis could slowly rise to about 122 million in 1926. Among the major producers departments, Ille-et comes first. -Vilaine and the North, with 4,500,000 hl. for each. Part of the milk is transformed into various products (butter and cheeses). Traditionally, in the past, milk was mostly processed on the farm; now the factories for the industrial treatment of milk are increasing in number, or rather they are widening the supply circle every day, with the improvement of the means of transport. Normandy with the Isigny region, Brittany, the Charentes, Poitou and Flanders are always at the forefront for the production of butter: in 1926 this absorbed over 41 and a half million hl in the whole of France. of milk, that is 34% of the total production. France, the land of cheeses; and each region has its own local product (Cantal, Roquefort, Brie, Camembert). The most common are mainly manufactured in fromageries industrielles (companies, private establishments). Cooperation gained great momentum in the departments of the Jura, Savoy and Haute-Savoie; indeed, while the Jura alone has 400 cooperatives, in Haute-Savoie there are 425, which produce 12 million kg. of gruyère cheese per year. In 1925 almost 18 million hl were used for the production of cheeses. of cow’s milk, over 1 million hl. of goat’s milk and over 700,000 hl. of sheep’s milk. For Roquefort, which owes its special qualities to the natural cellars in which it is fermented, 430,000 hl are used. of milk obtained from the sheep of the Causses region (average production: 7 million kg.).