Near Pont-l’Evêque: from Charles-Henry’s farm to the plate, behind the scenes at a cattle farm

Charles Henry Lebrun breeds Le Torquesne
Charles-Henry Lebrun breeds about a hundred Charolais cattle. © Camille RUFFRAY

“The French have great confidence in the farmers, but there is nothing better than to show what is really happening behind the doors of buildings by meeting them. We do not hide, we want to be transparent! Charles-Henry Lebrun, breeder of Charolais cattle in Torquesne (Calvados), opens the doors to its operation as part of the Made in Meat meetings. A way of telling backstage of his profession and share his concerns.

Made in Meat meetings from 11 to 18 May

The livestock and meat sector invites the general public and school children from 11 to 18 May throughout France to the 7th edition of the Made in Meat meetings. Professionals’ opportunity to present their subjects with “transparency” and “sharing” by opening their doors. In the Pays d’Auge from 11 to 13 May, two professionals will take part: Charles-Henry Lebrun’s EARL d’Argentel in Torquesne and Les Eleveurs du Pays d’Auge, a craftsman butcher in Breuil-en-Auge. More information at

140 animals each year

This 30-year-old son of a farmer from Coquainvillers settled in 2014 in the small town of Augeronne by converting a dairy farm into cattle breeding. At the same time, the young farmer cultivates 200 hectares of grain. “140 animals come out every year to feed the population,” explains Charles-Henry Lebrun, helped by an employee and an apprentice.

Before they arrive on the plate, the animals are raised in Normandy and its surroundings. From birth, they are assigned a number that never leaves them. “And even all the way down to the ground. It is a question of being able to guarantee food safety and allow traceability, ”explains the farmer.

From their arrival in nine months …

Upon their arrival at the farm about nine months, the animals are quarantined in nursery. Purpose: to avoid contaminating the entire crew in the event of a problem and to “acclimatize them”. Growth monitoring, finances, health journal … No baby phone for Charles-Henry Lebrun, but an application. “It’s very easy for me to follow the animals at all levels, especially at the health level, and it also allows the consumer to be reassured.”

After the quarantine, the cattle end the main building to be brought up there. There is no question of separating them from their neighbors. “It’s like everywhere there are characters and power relations. Putting a young person together with the elderly is certain death. »

Charles Henry Lebrun breeds Le Torquesne
The young bulls leave his farm about 20 months. © Camille RUFFRAY

At nine months, the bulls weigh 300 kg and have to leave between 18 and 20 months, after reaching an average of 800 kg. 90% of what they eat is produced on the farm. Their fertilizer is then used as fertilizer for his soil, “it is the cycle of nature”. “When I cook to feed them, I have a very precise recipe, and everything is weighed to the nearest gram, to avoid health problems,” he continues.

The animals are bred indoors, in boxes grouping animals of the same age. “Outdoor breeding is much slower, up to two years. The meat may be tastier, but tougher. And to have tender meat, you have to have young meat,” compares the breeder.

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… When they are consumed

Charles-Henry is considering placing “animal welfare” among its priorities, to ensure that they grow under good conditions. “Whether it’s about respecting rooms, sleeping places, the atmosphere in the building by increasing the amount of air in the summer, always keep an eye on them …”

Once their growth is complete, the bull calves are sent to the slaughterhouse located in Villers-Bocage, a proximity that especially avoids long journeys for animals. On average, 450 kg carcass ends up per. cattle then on the plates of lovers of this meat. Mainly in Italy, North Africa, Greece or Sicily. France is the leading consumer of veal in Europe, but also the leading exporter of cattle.

To discover Charles-Henri’s farm, go here.

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