Consumers today are calling into question the aims and methods used by beef farmers in western countries. This situation became more pronounced with the crisis brought about by "mad cow disease", and this leads us to question the whole basis of the practice of cattle breeding. Within the framework of the concerns of the Bergerie Nationale at Rambouillet regarding sustainable development, I conducted a study of the ways in which herdsmen view their profession, the methods they use and the animals they work with. I interviewed the six herdsmen employed at the Bergerie, as well as two managers. The interviews were done according to analytical methods of a psycho-sociological nature and those of Darré. These were followed by a video recording of human and animal behaviour made during the daily work routines. The results obtained showed common perceptions with regard to purpose (to feed people) and means (performance). The cattle breeders' reactions concerning relationships with their animals were more diverse, but they converge into expressions of pleasure of "being with" animals, and ambiguity where the death of animals is concerned. These results come close to those of Salmona and Soriano, which underline the deep, personal involvement of the individual in the practice of his profession, drawing out the essential aspects of his personality. The latter point similarly corresponds to the findings of Seabrook and Hemsworth.
Human-animal relationships, Communication, Linking for animals, Animal welfare, Ethics.