The farm is located in the village of Labro in the municipality of Moussages. Located in the Cantal in the heart of the Parc des Volcans d'Auvergne on the slopes of the Puy Mary and the hills of the Mars valley. The name “Labro” means “at the edge of the wood”. The wood covers the entire slope between the meadows and the bottom of the Mars valley.
The farm has been a family business for more than 50 years. In the beginning, it was a small farm of about twenty hectares. As time went by, Christophe, the father, enlarged the farm, which at the time was run as a suckling herd (i.e. the calves stay with their mother for 9 months, 24 hours a day in the pastures). Guillaume, the son, after studying in the dairy industry joined the family farm business in January 2010. He rented additional hectares and changed the herd management from suckling to milking (the cows are milked twice a day, the calves are in a separate field from their mother and see them at the time of milking). Today the farm covers 80 hectares in the mountains, and natural meadows (i.e. without ploughing or sowing), where a herd of 55 Salers cows is raised.
Situated between 800m and 1,400 m high, these meadows on volcanic soil, are composed of 120 varieties of grasses, wild liquorice, gentian, arnica, blueberries, etc. No herbicides or pesticides are used, the rivers are wild, the woods and broom shrubs make up the environment.
In mountain areas, most of the economic activity is based on the breeding of dairy or suckling herds. The main sources of income are the sale of dairy products or the sale of grazing animals. Hiking tourism is another source of income.
Only rainwater or water from snowmelt feeds the meadows, springs and streams. We take what nature gives us, so that we sometimes suffer from drought phenomena which forces us to stop milk production, due to a lack of sufficient grass at the end of August.
Guillaume practises reasoned agriculture without fertilizers. Only natural lime is added every 3-4 years to improve the PH level of soils which are rather acidic. Only manure is spread on the meadows in spring as fertilizer. The first growth of grass is grazed by the animals, then it grows back and will be wilted to feed the herd during the winter. Sometimes a third shoot is possible - we call this "regrowth"!
Nature is preserved, natural enemies are present, and can sometimes be harmful, such as mole rats destroying the meadows and depriving us of fodder for the winter, which can force us to buy fodder. Everything is natural, biodiversity is a reality. Nature is raw and pure. Our energy needs only consist of fuel for the tractors, mainly in the summer months during haymaking, and electricity for the buildings and the milking machine.
Two people work on the farm, Guillaume and his girlfriend. Christophe the father helps his son. Two people work in the maturing cellar. This is the second year that Salerac cheese is made on the farm. Maison Marie SEVERAC, creator of the SEVERAC, is the owner of the moulds, the presses and the manufacturing charter. We collect the production once a week and mature it in our cellars.
The Saleracs are matured in underground cellars, on wooden planks and are rubbed and turned over manually every week for a minimum of 5 months. The people in charge of the maturing process are employed by Maison Marie SEVERAC.
By transforming the milk into the Salerac, the farmer earns triple more than normal, hence there is a high attraction for this ancestral but constraining farm production. Two farmers have already joined us in this approach, others will follow. Thanks to this, we will contribute to the preservation of this unique cheese-making know-how which is in danger of disappearing. Unfortunately, our activity does not currently allow us to employ handicapped people or people with reduced mobility.
Our method of operation does not produce waste. The only "by-product" of our production is "whey" which is given to a neighbor to feed the pigs which will be transformed into delicatessen or salted meats. This is how, since the dawn of time, our ancestors used to go to the mountains in the summer to make cheese, always with pigs so as not to throw away the whey. This is where the fame of the Auvergne charcuterie comes from.
Before being put on sale, each product is analysed, visually selected and a sampling is made for each batch.