chapter  10
The Pastoral Realm
ByHugh Clout
Pages 20

Grain growing was the main objective of French farming in the 1830s but for that very reason the role of livestock in the country's agricultural systems was vital since sustained crop production would have been impossible without the manure that was returned to the soil. All 51,568,800 livestock shared the function of being dung-making machines throughout their lives but they performed a variety of additional roles. Some yielded marketable products, such as milk or wool, on a regular basis but the value of others could be realised only when they had been slaughtered. In fact, many livestock changed their function through time, for example, spending their working lives as draught animals or providers of milk but ending up as sources of meat and hide. Nothing of this complexity of function was captured by the Statistique which recorded livestock numbers and provided information on sources of meat but made no mention of milk, wool or hides which formed important components of agricultural trade. Some livestock were the objects of care and attention, since the quality of their flesh and skin contributed to the price that they commanded, but most were 'the mere auxiliary of cultivation', being treated as a 'necessary evil' or 'the essential vice' without which crops could not be grown. 1 This was particularly true in the Midi, where traditional biennial rotations did not include a petite céréale for livestock feed. Throughout Provence, Languedoc and the basin of the Garonne too much land was devoted to cropping and not enough to supporting livestock and agricultural inspectors were harsh in their criticism. 2