Chicory, an alternative forage to pass through summer drought in France

Practice abstract


Climate change challenges the current forage systems. It was common practice to continue grazing during the summer. But the recent climate changes affect the growth of summer grass. In fact, the growth of some species stops beyond 25°C and others need a regular rainfall, a situation that is not always available anymore. New forage species are needed that better withstand climatic conditions. Forage chicory is one example. Due to its tap root, it is able to draw the water from deep soil layers and to better regulate its temperature, thus allowing to continue growing during heat waves. Its use is limited to grazing because of its high water content. It may be advantageously to combine it with legumes (clovers) to reduce nitrogen inputs. Its fast growth requires fast rotational grazing on the order of 3 weeks before returning to the first plot. This is almost twice as fast as a “classic” grassland grazing cycle at this time of the year. This kind of summer pasture means that in spring the accessible surface is reduced, because the growth of the vegetation starts later. The farmers need forage production in the summer without the need of performing a mechanical harvesting operation. However, its implementation requires a prior reflection on the paddocks to be chosen and the number of hectares needed to take advantage of its assets without being detrimental to forage autonomy. The length of the usual summer dry spell, proportion of the grazed mixture within livestock ration shall lead farmers in their reflection. Moreover, chicory keeps growing over the whole grazing season only if sown on deep soils. For example, one farmer seeded 22 ha for grazing all summer with 90 dairy cows at a seeding rate of 3 kg/ha of chicory and same amount of white and red clover each.

Additional information

Farming system

conventional farming

Domains of innovation

grazing management system

Main types of animal

dairy cattle, meat sheep



Product type

Practice abstract



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