A cooperative of dairy farmers in Brittany care for their herds on small family farms and send off the milk they produce to make Paysan Breton cream cheese. Taste of France spoke to Soizic Trotel, who has worked with her husband on his family farm since 2002.
Did you have any experience of farming before coming to work on your husband’s family’s farm?
No, not at all – I used to be an assistant nurse, but I have always lived in the countryside.
Tell us about your farm…
Our farm is located in Saint-Cast-le-Guildo, 7km away from the Créhen factory, where Paysan Breton is produced. We have 130ha of arable land, where we grow herbs, cereals and corn, and we have 80 cows, 45 heifers and a workshop with 49 places for bulls.
What is a typical day like for you?
From 7.15am until 9am, we do the milking. From 9am until noon, we clean the milking sheds, feed the animals, take care of mulching and other caretaking tasks. Then evening milking take place between 5pm and 6.30pm. Once more, we need to clean up afterwards and feed the animals before going back home at about 7pm or 7.30pm. The afternoon is dedicated to field labour or mechanics for my husband, while I do any admin work and farm management which takes a lot of time!
We understand the cows graze outside for around 200 days a year?
The cows are grazing between March and the end of October. From then on, the grass is too wet, and it barely grows. And the cows enjoy keeping warm on the straw!
How many litres of milk do you produce each day?
We produce around 1300 to 1400 litres of milk per day thanks to 65/70 cows (we have Norman cows). The milk is collected every two days and transported to the Créhen factory. To make a good cheese, you need to have a good quality milk, just like all the other ingredients which will be used! The recipe contains no additives or conservatives, so it is as natural as possible!
What do you love most about being a dairy farmer?
The contact with the animals, living by the rhythm of the seasons, the exchanges I have with my colleagues at the cooperative and the simplicity of those exchanges. I did not choose to work with dairy cows, it was a consequence of my marriage to my husband, but I absolutely don’t regret it! I have learned how to understand and work with cows but most of all how to love them! I am so proud as a cheese producer that Paysan Breton cream cheese is appreciated in so many countries – it is a sign of taste and quality and I am so proud to take part in this collective adventure.
Apart from Paysan Breton, what is your favourite cheese?
Well obviously, I love Paysan Breton because it is natural, simple, fresh and can be used in many cooking recipes, but I also really enjoy Comté, which is completely different! A bit of variety is good!
Find recipes using Paysan Breton Cheese here: