Carn d'Andorra (Andorra beef)

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Carn d'Andorra

IGP Carn d'Andorra is beef from the hardy Bruna d'Andorra breed or from crosses between the cows of this breed and bulls of the Charolais, Limousin and Gascon breeds, reared and fattened on farms in Andorra that, from the birth of the calves right up to the end of fattening, are dedicated exclusively to the production of meat to be marketed under the IGP. Slaughter takes place any time after the calf is eight months old.

Feed: The animals are born in Andorra and are raised with their dam on local pastures. The calves have to be suckled by their dam for at least four months. They graze on the pastures of the high mountains, with their dams, during the summer period, then spend winter on farms when the snow covers the mountains. During the summer months, led by the cow-herd, the herd climbs to the summer pastures, where it stays for at least 90 days. During the fattening period, feed has to be based on hay or straw, to provide bulk, and a mix of cereals, pulses and supplements. The farms' fodder supplies come mainly from the Principality of Andorra.

Specific steps in production that must take place in the defined geographical area:

The meat produced comes from animals born, raised and slaughtered in Andorra. The calves are born by natural birth and they have to be suckled by their dam. The calves graze in the fields in the high mountain with their dams during the summer period, then spend the winter on the farms when snow covers the mountains. For fattening calves, a minimum area of 3 m2 per head is considered essential. Animal fattening consignments have a maximum of 20 animals. Stress for the animals is kept to a strict minimum during transportation. The animals are transported directly from the farm to the abattoir and the maximum distance travelled is limited to 25 km. Stress is therefore avoided as much as possible and a quality final product is guaranteed.

Concise definition of the geographical area:

The geographical zone includes all the territory of Andorra where the animals of the Bruna d'Andorra breed are born, raised and slaughtered. In terms of administration, Andorra is divided into 7 parishes: Canillo, Encamp, Ordino, la Massana, Andorra la Vella, Sant Julià de Lòria and Escaldes-Engordany.

Specificity of the geographical area:

Lying right in the middle of the Pyrenees mountains, the area where the Bruna d'Andorra cattle are raised is conducive to extensive rearing methods. Andorra is a mountainous country of 468 km2 with an average altitude of 2 000 metres. The grazing area is considerable and amounts to about 20 % of the total surface area of Andorra. The flattest areas in the valley bottoms are where crops and human settlements have always been concentrated.

The considerable expanse of Andorra's meadows and pastures, in comparison to cropland, allows for the production of a large quantity of natural feed for livestock. The use of these grasslands determines the grazing routines. The seasons shape the grazing routines, which generally follow the same pattern: climbing to the pastures above the forest around the month of June and going back down at the start of the snowy period in November. The abundance of water and the variety of soils encourages the development of different types of pasture. The pastures found, in order of importance, are the following: fescue pastures (Festuca eskia) which make up 10 % of the country, mat grass pastures (Nardus stricta) which make up 6 %; Festuca airodis pastures (5 %) and Festuca paniculata pastures.

The traditional holdings maintain their livestock thanks to communal rough grazing and agricultural properties used for cereals, fodder and other horticultural crops. During the summer months, led by the cow-herd, the herd climbs to the summer pastures (at an altitude of 2 000-2 500 m), where it stays for 90 days. On every unit of pasture, they start at the lowest altitude (< 2 000 m) and climb to the higher ones when the heat of August arrives; for the second half of the stay they descend once again to a lower altitude.

The annual grazing plan follows the routine below, making the most of the low, intermediate and high areas:

Low area: private pastures at the bottom of valleys, around villages. Generally, one or two pastures and one or two hay meadows are used each year. It is the custom to sow fodder crops such as ryegrass, alfalfa (Medicago sativa) and fescues (Festuca sp. omn.)

Intermediate area: pastures near the ‘bordes’ (‘bordes’ are stone-built shepherds' or cowherds' cabins in the highlands). On the route on the way to and from forest pastures. They are called ‘rebaixants’, high area: pastures above the forest line which provide feed practically all summer. These are mostly communal land, i.e. owned by the local administrations, known as ‘parishes’.

Specificity of the product:

The specificity of the product is defined by its quality, which is linked to a traditional production method, and by its acceptance by the consumer. At the start of the 20th century, the breed which existed in Andorra, a hardy multi-purpose breed, was improved thanks to the arrival of males from the Alps acclimatised to mountainous regions. These were males of the Schwitz breed (brown Swiss), as described in various documents of the time (Andorra Agrícola, an illustrated monthly review of 1933). This led to an improved breed, known today by the name ‘Bruna d'Andorra’. This breed is characterised by the fact that it is hardy, adapted to grazing, which makes it perfectly suited to extended breeding as practised in Andorra.

The traditional animal breeding systems, which are still used today, and the use of the indigenous Bruna d'Andorra, a brown-coated animal, with strong maternal instincts that is hardy and well adapted to the harsh conditions of the local mountains, give a unique product which is the result of crossbreeding dams of the Bruna d'Andorra breed and sires of the Charolais, Limousin and Gascon breeds. It is a union of a breed adapted to the environment and neighbouring breeds that are well known as beef cattle.

Farming methods are dictated by the climate and are based on the following two periods:

— summer period (April to November): the animals graze freely on the mountains and feed on natural pastures, — winter period (November to March): the animals are in stables and reserves of fodder are supplemented by concentrated feed.

The traditional breeding system is built on small farms adapted to the climate of the Pyrenees and fattening very small numbers of animals originally for family consumption or local sale. These types of farm still exist: the average number of animals kept for fattening is around 35. The difference is that breeders have come together to create an association, Ramaders d'Andorra, which is dedicated, among other things, to marketing the meat, and so improving the returns of these farmers.

This traditional breeding and fattening system in which every animal is born and raised in Andorra, the Bruna d'Andorra breed, the fattening period during which concentrated feed is made up of a mixture of cereals and pulses, the fact that fodder is available in winter to supplement feed and the availability of high-quality pastures during summer give the meat the fat infiltrations which make the product tender and succulent. This traditional breeding system is without doubt the best asset of the meat, which is well known and held in high regard in Andorra.

Causal link between the geographical area and a specific quality, the reputation or other characteristic of the product:

The IGP ‘Carn d’Andorra’ is based on a traditional breeding system of a Pyrenean country; the Principality of Andorra. A herd book was created for the Bruna d’Andorra breed in November 2006. Furthermore, the breed benefits from the cooperation of the Unité de sélection et de promotion de la race bovine gasconne (former Unit for the Selection and Promotion of the Gascon Cattle Breed — UPRA, currently known as Groupe Gascon, located in Villeneuve du Paréage, 09100 France) in implementing the genetic selection programme for the breed. The mixture of the Andorran climate, which favours abundant quality pastures, and a system of holdings using traditional breeding methods following a grazing routine that uses all areas (low, intermediate and high) gives the area specific know-how that makes the most of all these resources and a breed adapted to the environment to produce a meat which is well-known and highly regarded by consumers in Andorra.

All the meat produced conforming to these standards is marketed in the Principality of Andorra. A study done by Ramaders d'Andorra SA from Andorra's national abattoir on 60 % of the sales points for meat in the country showed that 100 % of the sales points covered by the study identified ‘Carn d’Andorra’ as the beef marketed by the Ramaders d'Andorra association with the national guarantee and control label ‘Carn de Qualitat Controlada d’Andorra’ (‘Quality controlled Andorran meat’) which recognises an identical production method to the one set out above.

Reference: The European Commission