It is indispensable to keep the distance necessary to avoid being swept up in technology at any price if the solutions adopted defy common sense, in other words if they run counter to the quality of the finished product, the animals' lives and the environment.

For several years the association has successfully focused on three major areas to improve the quality of the milk and, therefore, the cheese: the cows' diet, the balance of the microbial flora and genetics. Improving the product has major effects on the entire region. For example, it is easy to see the impact of the cows' diet on the landscape.


Aubrac cows look like they wear make-up
Aubrac cows look like they wear make-up

How to control the milk's fat content

The milk's fat content hinders the proper draining of the fresh tome, a decisive factor in determining the cheese's ability to age. How can the fat content be controlled when only whole milk is used to make Laguiole?

 The answer lies in genetics, in selecting reproductive bulls to increase protein and decrease fat. The goal, of course, is not to offer a "light" cheese but to ensure the product's quality.

This is what the association calls skimming with the bull.  


Cows in the meadow
Cows in the meadow

The meadow gives the milk its fragrant scent and botanical diversity its distinctive flavour.

The richness of Aubrac's flora is a primordial factor in the gustatory quality of Laguiole cheese.

 Over 10 years ago the association resumed using locally produced fodder in order to improve the milk's quality and get as close as possible to what the gustatory qualities of this cheese created on this particular terroir should be.

 Maize and silage have gradually been completely eliminated from the cows' diet. Producers and the association noticed that neither is good for Laguiole. Maize produces fat in milk, and, after curdling, fat keeps the cheese from draining properly. But draining is necessary for ageing a cheese that keeps a long time, like Laguiole. Keeping Laguiole's traditional characteristics while continuing to use whole milk, then, required eliminating maize. Silage has been ruled out because damp storage conditions increase health hazards. It was therefore decided to use only grass and hay, which made the cows' udders healthier.


The association encourages farmers to clean nipples with wood wool
The association encourages farmers to clean nipples with wood wool

Too much hygiene is bad for the milk

Studies and research show that the best milk has balanced flora, in particular favourable bacteria (acidifying flora and ageing bacteria).

 Eliminating all bacteria is therefore good for neither the milk nor the cheese, whose gustatory and conservation qualities depend heavily on the bacteriological balance. Interaction between the lactic flora specific to raw whole milk is what causes the cheese to ripen. It was necessary to think about hygiene: an observation was made about cleaning practices in effect to comply with health regulations.

 It turns out that the methods used to clean nipples and milking equipment diminished the natural microbial flora that changes the cheese's characteristics, leading in the long term to standardisation. The milk's microbial balance must be controlled to avoid health hazards while preserving the cheese's identity.

Managing the microbial flora means preserving flora of technological interest—in other words that promote the maturation of the cheese and the balance of its flavours—naturally occurring in the milk while controlling pathogens.

This is done by keeping the nipples, milking machines and cows' environment clean. Housing conditions have steadily improved for decades, helping to increase the animals' comfort and cleanliness.

The solution: to stop all-out cleaning with the aim of killing all the bacteria, whose only effect is to weaken the entire chain (environment, cow, milk). The association's work is part of the national reflection on the terroir cheese network.