Untitled-1 copy edit
about us

The Salers, one of the oldest French breeds , has been bred continually in a difficult environment resulting in the development of its many qualities.

Until the sixties the cattle had been bred for milk, meat and draught purposes producing large, well built animals with no excess fat and capable of regulating their body temperature. Since then meat production has become increasingly important leading to an improvement in conformation without loss of maternal qualities, especially reproduction and milk production.

The Saler cow's basic qualities and milk yield make her ideal for rearing calves. this has led to the development of the suckler system with the Salers cows in their native region, and at the same time to the spread of the breed over most of France.

One of the major reasons for the breed success is the ease of calving which enables well fleshed beef bulls to be used on the Salers females without any risk of calving difficulties. Salers are known for their longevity and wearing ability, many cows are still fresh at 12 years plus, due to stress free calving, hardiness, with good legs and feet, etc.

Half and three quarter bred Salers cattle make excellent suckler suckler cows and the steers hold their own against other continental crosses when finished.

There is considerable interest being show by both dairy and suckler herds in the breed which is renowned for its ease of calving.

This year the Salers celebrate the 10th Anniversary of the promotion of the breed in Ireland with a present membership of over 100 breeders. Salers are better known and understood as a Suckler cow breed.

Although in Ireland having won the Intrerbreed show classes three times, Salers can not always compete with other continental breeds in the show ring as like for like indeed if breeders tried they may as well lose the natural trait of Salers. However if their classes were dual purpose breeds for both terminal sire coupled with Suckler cow credibility then they would probably sweep the boards. Rather than being a threat to other breeds the Salers Society would see themselves as being a great help because if there were more Salers crosses in Suckler herds, farmers would not be afraid of using more muscular continental sires and avoiding difficult or impossible calvings.

Salers 10x3 600px


Salers (pronounced Sallair) are the native cattle of the Auvergne, an isolated mountainous plateau, the Massif Central, of South Central France. Since altitudes rise from 2,500 to 6,000 ft. the weather is variable and harsh with a high rainfall. Not surprisingly the breed is hardy and the Salers mahogany coloured coat is thick and weather resistant.

1902838793_c6891597b9Salers are one of the oldest distinct breeds in the world. There is plenty of evidence of early settlement of the area by stock breeder farmers in the Neoloitic era (9,500 to 4,500 years ago) becoming denser in the Bronze Age circa 4,000 years ago. While it would be naive to consider any modern breed, including the Salers, as having evolved since that time uninfluenced by migration patterns and by neighbouring cattle (present Limousin & Aubracs) the nature of the Salers habitat lends itself to a high generic isolation. In the mid 19th century Durham Shorthorns and other breeds were imported into the Salers area to 'improve' the local cattle. However, this was challenged by a local vet M. Tyssandier d'Escous. He proposed a selection from within the native stock as a basis for improvement and he can be considered as the father of the modern breed structure. His statue stands in the middle of the picturesque medieval village of Salers from which the breed derives its name. Modern genetic analysis shows that the effect of this importation, if any, was very small. Indeed one study shows that there is 400 times more Shorthorn blood in Charolais than Salers. The genetic distance of Salers from other breeds explains the notable hybrid effect (heterosis) evident when for example Charolais bulls are used on Salers cows or when Salers bulls are used on Simmental or Angus cows. In contrast, in France, Limousin crosses are considered to have no advantages and Aubrac crosses to be frankly undesirable. With most breeds that Salers characteristics are rather dominant e.g. low calf birth weight.

Until the 1960's the region and its cattle remained very isolated, this perpetuated the historic cheese and weanling system. Since the area was too remote to supply a liquid market the Salers milk was converted to high quality/ high value cheese (St. Nectaire and Cantal for example) particularily when the cattle and the stockmen moved to summer grazing and the burons in the mountains (the "Estive"). Selection was for cheese quality milk and conformation. In upland conditions where meal feeding is minimal cow average 3,000-4,000 litres at 3.58% butterfat and 3.3% protien while simultaneously weaning a 300kg suckler calf. Heifer calves are generally kept on, some for replacements but mostly for sale , in-calf to lowland farmers at 2½to 3 years old. While lucrative this historic system is labour intensive, not least since milk let down is poor without a few preliminary sucks and the presence of the calf (attached to the left front leg) during milking. Thus milk herds now constitute 10-15% of the Salers population. Nevertheless most French breeders consider the preservation of the nucleus important to retain the breeds milk capacity.