The Gascon is able to walk for extreme distances in search of grass at the top of the summer pastures in the Pyrenees due to the outstanding quality of its hooves. During the long winter months, their hooves also enable them endure traditional tethered housing or standing for long periods as young animals being finished on slatted floors.

Winter rations often consist of varied types of hay that are not always appetizing or nutritious and the Gascon is able to make optimal use of different diets when the quality of the pastureland is poor. Outdoor farming systems also bear witness to the fact that all the Gascon herd requires is an area of land naturally protected from prevailing winds.

In contrast to harsh winter conditions, the Gascon has also shown to be the breed with the best resistance to heat in a comparable study carried out by the INRA. Used to being exposed to very intense bright light, the eye of the Gascon is well protected by its black-rimmed eyelids. The number of cases of inflammation of the cornea is minimal in spite of the massive amount of flying and stinging insects.

In spite of extreme and difficult environmental conditions, the calf production is an average of one calf per year with 75% of the cows calving at an interval of less than 380 days. In both pure breed and cross breed, 98% of all births require no assistance. Most of the females calve between 32 and 36 months and remain in phase with the period at summer pasture.  With a more intensive management of the breed in a more arable location, calvings can be as frequent as 24 to 30 months. Official trials identified spectacular finishing results for Gascon store calves (less than 23% feed cost, Livestock Institute 1988).

In this day and age, a herd must be sustainable and able to recapture its costs. A herd which ages well avoids the excessive need for replacement stock. To aid this end, the heifers are intended to be sold and generate added value. The Gascon breed selection has always used families with great longevity.

Comments are closed.