Marguerite, Véronique, Gisèle, Josette, Mélissa, Maryline... have arrived in our vineyards. These 30 pretty ewes from the Landes are now active every day between the rows and feed themselves greedily on our grass. Gérard, our ram, takes care of them and makes sure to perpetuate his lineage.
The Landais sheep is one of the oldest varieties in France. With more than 250,000 heads in the 19th century on a territory stretching from Bordeaux to the Pyrenees, this hardy breed represented a vital economic resource through its production of wool, meat and dung. However, with the encroachment of the Landes, it had almost completely disappeared by 1965. And it is thanks to three strains preserved by breeders and the Landes de Gascogne Natural Park that the number of sheep is now around 3,000. 1% of the world's livestock is therefore at Château Hourtin-Ducasse. So Gérard has a job to do!
There would be only 3,000 Landais sheep left. 1 % of the world livestock is therefore at Château Hourtin-Ducasse.
Like all hardy breeds, the Landes sheep is resistant to disease and requires little care. The ewe gives birth to its young without help and is a good mother. Good news for us; even though we have immersed ourselves in books and are accompanied by the Conservatoire des Races d'Aquitaine to carry out this new experience, their autonomy and bonhomie make our new pastoral task easier.
And what an appetite! By consuming the grass of our parcels right down to the vine, including under the row, the ewes maintain our soils with a perfectly natural weeding, where in winter, the passage of a tractor damages and compresses the soil (when it can pass). Grazing also participates in the natural evolution of the composition of the flora and favours biodiversity and grassing that smothers undesirable species. Finally, the organic matter, brought by their dejecta, is a great natural fertilizer.
Joséphine, Gérard, Adriana, Tatiana, Josette, Delphine, Mélissa, Claire, Maryline, Marguerite, Gisèle, Lulette and Ghislaine.
By moving our ewes from plot to plot, so that they always have quality grass, we should arrive at the end of winter with a level plant cover and a soil enriched by their passage through the entire property. From the budburst, we will install our herd on the fallow plots to give them a nice spring wash; it is a question of not tempting our greedy workers with the young leaves and the crunchy buds.
Adopting a herd can thus bring us a precious help for a little more nature on the estate and accompany us in our desire to enrich our terroir. Nevertheless, a few conditions have to be met in order to satisfy them. Grass, of course, at the right height and in the right quantity. No or little copper in the soils, they are very sensitive to it. No herbicides, fungicides or insecticides which for some are toxic and would be dangerous for them. In short, they were made for us! With our grassed vines, treated with essential oils and herbal infusions, it should be the perfect match.
Sources : Conservatoire des races d’Aquitaine – Inn’ovin – Journalvignette.fr – Chambre d’Agriculture du Gard