In L'Auberson, the president of the dairy company is passionate about genetics
Benoît Erb is president of the L'Auberson dairy company, which produces Le Gruyère AOP, a cheese designated as a "Cheese of Excellence" by the Vaud State Council. Passionate about their work and about genetics, Benoît, his brother Niki and his father Christian work hard to produce high-quality milk.
"It's always nice to milk cows that make good milk and which, on top of that, give us pleasure!"
Benoît Erb, President of the L'Auberson Dairy Company
Benoît Erb took over the presidency of the dairy company when after ten years his predecessor expressed his wish to leave the position. "At the meeting, a colleague proposed that I take over the position, which I gladly accepted." There are fewer and fewer milk producers around L'Auberson. "Since we arrived in L'Auberson in 1997, the number of producers has decreased by 50%, but we still pour the same number of litres!"
"We were very pleased when we learned that our cheese had been chosen as a cheese of excellence by the Vaud State Council." For Benoît, a perfect quality of milk, a good understanding as well as a regular and transparent contact between producers and with the cheese maker are essential for a well-functioning dairy company and for the high quality of Le Gruyère AOP.
In L’Auberson, Benoît Erb, Niki and Christian work as a family in their large stable built in 2007. They start their day at 4.15 a.m. on the family farm. Benoît then continues his day by tending to his heifers on his own farm in La Côte-aux-Fées. Then, at 4 p.m., they all meet at L'Auberson for the evening milking.
In L'Auberson, the trio looks after 120 cows. They take advantage of the winter to get as much milk as possible, because in the summer there is not enough pasture land to feed the whole herd. To solve the problem, twelve animals go to the mountain pasture above Morgins in Valais. "We found an advertisement from a farmer who was looking for cows for his alpine pasture. We jumped at the chance. It's rare for cows from the region to travel so far to summer pastures."
Their cows are Montbéliardes, whose milk is low in fat. In France, where the breed originated, farmers selected cows that produced low-fat milk. Benoît, Niki and Christian are working on the selection of their animals in order to increase the fat content of the herd's milk. To do this, they carry out genomic tests in order to know the potential for each calf. They can see from these tests whether the milk will have a high protein or fat content. "Genetics is becoming essential if we don't want to have to sprinkle a lot of magic pixie dust all around!”
Benoît also enjoys taking part in competitions. He was 12 years old when his father took him and his brother to their first show. Since then, he has not stopped doing it. Before COVID-19 stopped the shows, one of his cows was reserve champion and then section winner. "It's always nice to milk cows that make good milk and which, on top of that, give us pleasure," concludes the producer, amused.