Farm Life

Feeding Livestock

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Energy Balance

 Key Statistics
  • Agriculture uses less than 2% of the direct energy consumed in France (compared to 43% for tertiary residential, 32% for transport, 23% for the primary sector (industries)). ¹
  • On average, a livestock farm spends 15% of mechanisation costs on petrol only. ²

To operate, a farm needs to consume energy in different forms: gas, fuel and electricity. Depending on the nature of the farm, these energies necessarily have a cost, which are all accrued liabilities. Their use should therefore be considered since, in addition to the environmental considerations this implies (fossil energies currently used as petrol are doomed to disappear in a few decades, consumption generates emissions of greenhouse gas (GHG) and their basic prices will continue to increase), the cost of farming is directly affected.
A farm that requires few external contributions will consume much less energy, and that will be reflected on what one calls mechanisation costs, meaning a lower bill.

Dairy Farms using the Grassland System

As shown in Lower Normandy farms, an independent dairy farm tends to generate a decent income while having a positive impact on the environment. This system is greatly enhanced by a low consumption of the various traditional energy sources.

Energy Consumption Environmental Impact Earnings Work time
Low Good Correct Limited
Energy Alternatives

Generally highly dependent on fossil energies that must be purchased outside of the farms, farmers are trying to reduce their energy bills by several means.


One of the most greatest portions of the energy bill is dedicated to fuel for tractors and machines. However, there are other fuels that have a lesser environmental impact and that are more economically attractive. This is the case with oil produced from oilseed whose benefits are numerous:

  • Oil can be produced on the farm by pressing the seeds. For farms whose type of soil or size make it impossible to cultivate this type of plot, the purchase of grains is completely possible for autonomous pressing.
  • The use of oil instead of petrol obviously has a definite economic advantage.
  • The process of pressing also leads to the production of fatty oil cakes which are used as food supplements for the livestock. Following the appearance of genetically modified organisms, such as soybean, used among other things for the production of oil cakes, local production avoids any question about the source of these products. Local oil cakes are also economically advantageous compared to the industrial rapeseed oil cakes.
  • Farms that are more autonomous energy wise gives a better image, specially relating to the environment.

Earnings and Working Time

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Concerns of Farmers

The search for a better quality of life is a concern that affects everyone, and farmers are no exception to the rule. If they are settled alone, as a couple, with their children or in a community, and according to their temperament, the questions are not always the same, and the solutions vary.

Quality of Life³
Cannot take off Take 1 out of 4 W-e Take 1 out of 2 W-e
Free time 20 % 50 % 30 %


less then 50 h/Week between 50 and 80 h/Week more than 80 h/Week
Work Time 6 % 81 % 13 %


¹, ² COUVREUR J.-P. (2006). Quelques leviers pour maîtriser la consommation d’énergie et optimiser la mécanisation de l’exploitation. Fourrages, 187, 301-310
³ SIDOT G. (2006). L’efficacité du travail et la qualité de vie dans les élevages laitiers en France et en Europe. Fourrages, 185, 17-24

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