They are thought to be one of the world’s oldest breeds as there have been cave paintings found depicting very similar looking ancestors of the breed from over 10,000 years ago! But should you add them to your Suckler or beef finishing enterprise? Keep reading and find out below!
About the breed -
As mentioned, the Salers breed is one native to France and one used historically for beef, draught and dairy purposes. This is due to the breed’s large size.
They are probably best known for their unique coat, which is dark red in colour, with thick, curly hair. Their coat can, however, vary in colour from black to deep red, whilst Saler crossbreds usually display the curly coat, synonymous with the breed. Their skin is a black colour, as is their mucous membranes.
Their native habitat is a rough, mountainous climate.
Desirable traits -
Highly adaptable - For those of you wondering if Salers cattle could cope with the Irish climate, they can and in fact, they thrive! The lack of extreme temperature changes in Ireland is perfect for rearing Salers stock and their coat changes depending on the weather. The breed are more than capable of thriving whilst being outwintered in Ireland also and can easily cope with Ireland’s wet winters.
Extra Protection - As mentioned, Saler cattle have a thick, curly coat which helps protect them from changing weather conditions. Their black skin and mucous membranes also help protect them from sun-damage, particularly around udders and other sensitive regions.
Strong and Sturdy - Due to being raised in their native habitat, Salers cattle have strong, sturdy leds and hooves. Lameness is rarely an issue with Salers cattle.
Easy Calving - Salers cows are pretty good calvers, due to their large-shaped pelvis. This helps make the calving process much easier for the cows. Out of all beef breeds in use today, Salers have the best pelvis shape for calving. Calves usually weigh 30-40kgs at birth, which also helps make the birthing process much easier.
Early Maturing - Saler cows also mature much earlier than most other beef breeds, with some even having their first calf at two-years-old. Cows are also very fertile and have a shorter than most gestation period, meaning farmers will get more calves in a cow’s lifetime!
Temperament - A docile, calm and gentle breed, Salers cattle are also very clever. Cows, however, have a strong maternal bond with their calves and are likely to attack if they are alerted of any danger.
Efficient bulls - Salers bulls are very efficient and recent studies have shown that approximately 20% more cows will come in calf to Salers bulls than nine other beef breeds featured in the study.
High-Quality Milk - This is what makes Salers cow’s different from most breeds. The breed was always historically used for both meat, milk and draught purposes. Milk from Salers cows is actually extremely popular and of excellent quality. Cows produce an average of 3,000kgs of milk per year and it is primarily used in cheese production. It is also the reason why Salers calves exhibit great growth rates, as Salers cows can actually produce up to 11.1 litres of milk per day, over twice as much as Limousin and Charolais cows (4.9litres, 5.7 litres), according to a recent study.
Beefy-goodness - Salers cattle are large in size, with cows averaging 750kgs and bulls topping the scales at an average of 1,100kgs! This and the excellent quality of the meat is why Salers are proving increasingly popular with beef farmers in Ireland. Their meat is famed for its tenderness and high marbling. Salers cattle also have a kill-out rate at over 60%, which is not bad at all!
Efficient feed converters and foragers - Salers cattle are also known for being excellent foragers and they can thrive on almost any type of pasture. They are also very efficient at converting feed to weight gain.
Crossbreds benefits - Many farmers have long been lauding the benefits of crossing Salers cattle with other continental crossbreds, such as Charolais cattle. One farmer told That’sFarming recently that Weanlings produced by a Salers Dam and Charolais Sire are above-par in terms of daily weight gain, noting they are the perfect cross for those finishing or aiming to sell calves as weanlings. Salers/Charolais crosses are also used extensively in veal production, due to the tenderness of the meat and beefiness of calves produced.
There are currently sixteen different Salers bulls on the ICBF Beef Active Bull List (Terminal Index Ranking) - Which you can check out below!
1) Beguin / SA4059 - Rank 64: Available from NCBC at €26, with medium availability. (Picture - NCBC)
Terminal- Index; €142. Reliability; 79%. Stars W; 5.0. Stars A; 5.0.
Calving- Difficulty;1.80%, Reliability; 92%, Gestation; 0.3 days, Reliability; 96%.
Docility- Docility; -0.05%, Reliability; 91%,
Carcass Traits: Carcass Weight; 29kgs, Reliability; 85%, Carcass conformation; 1.47, Reliability; 82%.
2) Forez / SA4274 - Rank 91: Available from Dunmasc at €30 with high availability. (Picture - Dunmasc_
Terminal - Index; €136, Reliability; 58%, Stars W; 5.0, Stars A; 5.0.
Calving - Difficulty; 2.80%, Reliability; 72%, Gestation; -0.3days. Reliability; 73%.
Docility- Docility; -0.06%, Reliability; 51%.
Carcass Traits - Carcass Weights; 30kgs, Reliability; 61%. Carcass Conformation; 1.23, Reliability; 58%.
3) Ulsan / SA2189 - Rank 158: Available from Dovea at €10 with high availability. (Picture - Dovea)
Terminal - Index; €122, Reliability; 86%. Stars W; 5.0. Stars A; 5.0.
Calving - Difficulty; 0.90%. Reliability; 98%. Gestation; -1.0 days. Reliability; 98%.
Docility - Docility; -0.17%, Reliability; 98%.
Carcass Traits - Carcass Weights; 24kgs, Reliability; 93%. Carcass conformation; 1.11, Reliability; 90%.
4) Bacardi Herbie / SA4043 - Rank 198: Available from Eurogene at €22, with medium availability. (Picture - Eurogene)
Terminal - Index; €112, Reliability; 70%, Stars W; 5.0, Stars A; 4.0,
Calving- Difficulty; 2.40%, Reliability; 79%, Gestation; 0.5 days, Reliability; 84%.
Docility - Docility; -0.07%, Reliability; 80%.
Carcass Traits - Carcass Weights; 20kgs, Reliability; 76%, Carcass Conformation; 1.16, Reliability; 70%.
5) Druide / SA2200 - Rank 220: Available from NCBC at €38 with high availability. (Picture - NCBC)
Terminal - Index; €108, Reliability; 62%, Stars W; 5.0, Stars A; 3.0,
Calving- Difficulty; 5.10%, Reliability; 70%, Gestation; 3.4 days, Reliability; 70%.
Docility - Docility; 0.07%, Reliability; 47%.
Carcass Traits - Carcass Weights; 28kgs, Reliability; 68%, Carcass Conformation; 1.01, Reliability; 67%.
Visit the ICBF Beef Active Bull list for Salers cattle in full here.