04/30/2021 | Julie Beaupoux went from the sanitized world of the Poitiers University Hospital to the sometimes muddy pig course … and since then things have been much better!
On her quad, Julie Beaupoux, approaches the courses of her pigs. The arrival of this little piece of woman with golden curly hair, puts the animals in a beautiful state of excitement. They know it, she brings their first cereal ration of the day. The daily scene takes place in Liniers, in Vienne, less than 20 km from Poitiers. A trip that Julie took regularly two years ago to go to work in a completely different world. Indeed, before embarking on outdoor breeding, she was a clinical psychologist at the Poitiers University Hospital. After taking care of others, she thought of herself. The agricultural installation, “in contact with nature and animals” was the way to its development.
Rainette, Paillette, Clara … In Liniers, Julie’s breeding sows have first names. A sign that she pampers her five “daughters” … to such an extent that in case of difficulties during childbirth, she does not hesitate to sleep beside them, “folded in four”, in their little cabins. sheet metal, heated with the lamp for a better reception of new born piglets. If this is not (and fortunately!) A habit, the sleeping bag is still within reach. An essential because these maternity huts are in the open air, something quite rare these days to be emphasized. “100% outdoors” is indeed the method of breeding that she has chosen for the 50 to 70 pork pigs that she now raises, over the departures to the slaughterhouse and the births given by her. five sows. Inseminated by her, Julie makes her “small mixes” between her Large White females and seeds of the Duroc or Pietrain breeds, coming from a genetic center in Niort.
Quality of life
Four years after settling in, Julie Beaupoux believes that she has found her “cruising speed”, between births, breeding, and direct sale of meat on the farm. She does not have the will to increase the herd. “I want to stay on a quality production that I manage to manage on my own. Having between 50 and 70 animals is good for that, and it also gives me a quality of life because it is not too restrictive. I can be everywhere at the same time, in family life and in professional life ”.
“Quality of life”, the word is out for this reconverted to breeding who felt a little too “locked” between the 4 walls of her psychologist’s office, and under the heavy weight of the suffering of others. If she had lost it a little, she obviously found her smile. “It’s been a while since I wanted to retrain. Being able to work outside and be in contact with nature and animals ”, readily acknowledges the one who from childhood caught the virus of her father’s passion for horses. “Since I was little, I have always had a special bond with animals, but also nature and the earth,” she confides. It was about passion, but I felt that it had to become something that took more place in my life. »After a skills assessment and two years of reflection, she passed the course. She chooses to start “small”, without giving up her work in the hospital; “The time to build the herd, to have a sufficient number of animals and financial stability for the family,” she explains.
GMO-free, antibiotic-free, 100% outdoors
With the advantage of already living in the countryside, and with land, she began at the end of 2017 with three sows, on the 2 ha of meadows located 200 meters upstream from her house. Since then, for the comfort of her breeding, she bought 3 other hectares including 1 hectare of wood, to develop new courses and thus facilitate their rotation. “The pigs by dint of nosing and scratching the earth, have a tendency to damage the soil, especially when it rains … It is often necessary to reseed behind them”. Hence the necessary rotation of animals on the plots.
As for the hectare of wood, whose installation of fences for the new course is just completed, it will give shade this summer to the animals and will allow the season come that they feast on the acorns that have fallen to the ground. “It will be a good contribution to their diet,” specifies Julie, who takes care of the quality of their food. “I am not organic, because the food I buy would have to be organic. It would be an additional cost for my breeding that should be passed on to my customers … That said, and I want to, I buy a food without GMOs, my breeding is without antibiotics, 100% outdoors and I keep the butcher pigs 10 to 12 months. I think that there are certified organic farms, but which do not have as many guarantees of quality as what I put in place here ”. That is what is said. And the customers of the “Cochonnerie de Julie”, the name of her breeding and her shop on the farm, are not mistaken. She recognizes him with a smile, from Liniers to Poitiers, “word of mouth works well” around parcels of fresh meat and cold meats that she offers for sale in pre-order.
Word of mouth and recommendations on the Facebook social network too. Because indeed, the breeder communicates naturally, but effectively, on the news of her breeding, on the next availability of packages, on the animals. In regular meetings, she gives news of births, photos and videos in support of little pigs just born all pink and very cute. Spontaneous but undoubtedly effective marketing!
Also present on her Facebook page, her daily ally for handling pigs: her dog Popeye, with whom she is currently training as a herding dog, just to perfect her natural qualities as a working dog. As for her own training … Julie, is actually more of the self-taught type, and that since the launch of her agricultural project. “I trained at the Vienna Chamber of Agriculture on agricultural installation with a rather administrative dimension, but that’s about all,” she admits. In addition, there are also visits to farms which followed the same principles as what she wanted to do. “I was well received, people gave me good advice, they showed me their way of working. So I was inspired by them, and I also looked at a lot of things on the internet and then I learned my skills with my first animals. Not always easy, it’s true. But I gave myself the time to learn while doing. »Skills acquired in the field with the invaluable support of her husband, an agricultural employee now also in the process of setting up after her father in arable crops. And when she has any doubts she does not hesitate to take advice from other breeders or from the veterinarian.
Observe and adapt
Learning in the field also means learning to observe your animals and know how to adapt. “When we put in place things that were not working or not working well, we thought about finding or inventing solutions. Practices or equipment that were used in indoor breeding have been adapted to the outdoors. Restraint cages for example: it allows me to be able to contain the animal when it is necessary to take a blood sample or special care. As they are in total freedom and we are no match when they decided to leave! »Laughs the 33-year-old breeder with a rather light build.
But adapting, when you sell at the farm, also takes into consideration the tastes and colors of your customers. For example, it has stopped the production of Black Asses, however renowned meat if there is one. “Some of my clients loved it but others thought the meat was too fatty… so I decided to quit. Yet it was good fat! ”She says with a laugh, but without regret. “I concentrated the breeding on more classic meat breeds and the breeding method ended all the same by sublimating these classic breeds”.
At Julie’s Cochonnerie, the customer is king. And her past as a shrink makes her listen to them. “These are loyal customers, they take their packages every two or three months, they talk to me about my meat, they feast. It’s great to go from the start to the finished product. It’s super rewarding and it’s fun. It’s concrete! “. In other words, Julie has left the CHU but she continues to take care of her fellows in a different way. A conversion without a shadow of regret: “If I had to do it again, I would do it again, and maybe even sooner!” “.
By Solène Méric and Julien Privat
Photo credit: Julien Privat