Milk production is closely linked to the agro-pastoral system which follows the rhythm of the seasons. The farmers have adapted their system of farming to cope with the long, cold and harsh winters. For this, they make optimum use of the vegetation, depending on the altitude. There are 3 distinct zones, each used in a different way.
In the valley land is reserved for cereal farming and for grazing small herds during the winter.
The area called the “montagnette” (small mountains) is used to graze herds in the spring and autumn. The milk produced is made into Tomme cheese. The summer is the time to harvest the hay required for feeding the herd in winter.
The high mountains, or mountain pasture is farmed during the 100 days period from June to September, by the “mountain farmers”; who gather the cows into large herds of up to nearly 200 beasts. The alpine pastures comprise grassland areas at an altitude of between 1,500 and 2,500 m.
Technological progress in the 20th century has prompted a number of huge changes in mountain farming; however, the agro-pastoral system remains the best way of using the abundant and lush grass so essential for producing Beaufort cheese.
Visit the site of the "Syndicat de Défense du Fromage Beaufort” (Beaufort Cheese Protection Syndicate):