What if the herds run out of water and grass on the Aubrac plateau?

On May 22, 2022, the traditional transhumance festival takes place in Aveyron. Steer the Aubrac plateau for numerous herds. Other than that, there is no rain.

This Sunday, May 22, 2022, is the big transhumance festival in Aveyron. Herds about to join will join the Aubrac plateau for 4 to 5 months. Other than that, the weather hasn’t really been on the growers’ side in recent weeks. Thirst, weedlessness… The highlands have concerns in their time.

Farmers have been meeting there for a long time: Aubrac plateau “good quality grass“, where is she”there is plenty of water in normal times“. And around these farms, there are lands to make hay, there are stocks for the winter. But this is May 2022, drought begins. Before transhumance, it causes concern.

Serge Niel is a cattle rancher in Aulos, in the town of Saint-Chély-d’Aubrac, south of Aveyron. On Sunday, as every year, he will take about fifty of his cows to the Aubrac plateau to graze all summer long. But this year rains are rare.

Regarding vegetation,At this altitude of 1200-1300 meters there is nothing to worry about. We got a lot of grass like in other years, guesses the breeder a few days before leaving. But on the other hand, it’s played in a week. I have to admit that this is worrisome as we don’t have a lot of water. Resources are already too low.

If it doesn’t rain next week when the herd rises, then we’ll talk about a natural disaster because we really need water.

Serge Niel, cattle breeder

Grass can end for cows. “Last year, we didn’t have more in the same season. But the rain came very quickly and we still had a rainy summer. We should wish to have the same thing.“Climate change is what farmers have to deal with.

But that doesn’t stop her from asking questions before bringing herds to the set. “The difference is that while last year we had a larger water reserve, we are already in a period of water deficit here.‘, says Serge Niel.

What worries farmers in particular is the lack of water. “We can see the sources clearly, it does not flow“, says Serge Niel. Lack of water? This means difficulties when watering animals. It also means that the grass may be less and therefore affect hay stocks.

It’s vegetation that we wouldn’t have to feed the animals if it didn’t rain. It’s a tragedy if we have to collect hay in June. It’s a disaster, no more, no less.

Serge Niel, cattle breeder

On the Aubrac plateau, there is only one harvest for hay on farms around the plateau. It is unthinkable to miss in June or think of new cuts in August or September.

Thierry Agrinier is a goat breeder in the Pradeilles, Roquefort-sur-Soulzon region. According to him, the water deficit has been proven. And he’s afraid of experiencing the heat wave of 2003.”In general, we get roughly 400mm of water in January February March April, and there should be 100-110mm at most.” he tells us. The first fields were mown.”We don’t have between 30% and 40% grass. It didn’t grow… It doesn’t move anymore.

The clover planted ten days ago in the field next door still does not come out of the ground. “We know from the end of June-July that it is summer so it is ok, but it is very annoying that there is a drought in May.

If the drought lasts longer and the grass runs out, growers fear to feed their flocks with hay stocks and winter reserves. If the forecast is confirmed, it will rain early next week. And the rain must return to Aubrac.