Montbeliardes and Simmentals, also known as the red magpies of the East… Does this ring a bell?
Yes, they are cows, but not just any cows. It is thanks to their milk that we can eat this delicious local cheese… The bleu de Gex !

This cheese holds no more secrets for you? But you should know that Bleu de Gex is a PDO cheese and one of the key points of the appellation is that the milk must come from cows of the Montbéliarde or Simmental breeds.

And it is not Heidi, Gourmande, Minnie, Princesse, Patronne, Pirouette, Mélodie who will tell you otherwise: they are the cows of the farm of the ban du char in Chézery-Forens.

A short presentation of the farm and their family!

Alain Monnet and Oliver Barras, two farmers already active, each with their own farm, created the GAEC du Ban du Char in 2007. The two farms joined together in 2010, with the current building in Grand Essert.

How about spending a day on the farm with Polly? Petite Velle was born in the field last summer. Normally the calving of the cows takes place at the farm but exceptionally all the family of Olivier Barras could attend the birth of Polly. To the great pleasure of Olivier’s children, Annaëlle and Henri, who gave her this beautiful name.

Meet Polly

Hello, my name is Polly. After I was born I went back to the farm like all the other calves.

We stay at the farm for at least 1 year to protect ourselves and become beautiful heifers. After this beautiful year, we can go to the meadow.

During 3 months I drank exclusively the milk of my mother Mélodie, Olivier gave it to me with a bottle.

Let’s talk about milking

Mélodie and all the other cows that have calved go first, their milk will be exclusively reserved for their young. For the other cows, the milk will be sent to the cheese factory.

It’s milking time, Melodie and all her friends approach the “waiting area” at the entrance to the milking parlour. They enter, 6 by 6 in the milking room.

For the most part, they get in on their own, but as you can imagine, there are always some rebels, like Princess, Minnie and Pirouette, who need a little push!

Now it’s Melodie‘s turn!

Milking is done in 4 steps:

  1. Washing the 4 teats of the udders,
  2. Olivier draws a first jet of milk to make sure that everything is fine
  3. He connects the claws of the milking parlour to the teats (when the cows have given all their milk, the claws are automatically disconnected)
  4. And last but not least, the application of a moisturizing cream on the teats.

What about the milk?

Do you know how many liters of milk a cow gives on average? 20 liters, or 10 liters per milking.

And do you know how many liters of milk it takes to make a wheel of Bleu de Gex cheese? 80 liters.

At the farm of the ban du char there are about sixty dairy cows. I’ll let you do the math to find out how many cows are produced thanks to Pirouette, Minnie and their friends. Milking takes place twice a day: at 5:30 am and at 5 pm.

The milk goes directly into the tank, which is collected by the abbey cheese factory in Chézery, once a day for the production of Bleu de Gex.

Between milking, and depending on the season, Olivier and Alain work in the fields and above all… they take care of our food!

In summer, the dairy cows graze day and night in the meadows next to the farm. The heifers are in the pastures of the valley. Which will soon be my case. This summer I am ready, I am considered a Heifer, it is time for me to go graze on fresh grass.

At the farm, we eat mainly the forages (grass and hay) available in the valley.

By the way, I will leave you now, it’s time for me to go eat !

Now you know a little bit more about me and my friends.

I hope we’ll run into each other soon on the corner of a pasture or maybe at the farm, as I’ve heard that my owners are planning to organize farm visits.

Wait, don’t leave, I have some news that just come out: raw milk sales to individuals as of today!
Don’t hesitate to follow the progress of these exciting projects on their Facebook page