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Farm Feature: Sleep easy, breed Salers

Ivan Glenn is a Suckler Farmers from Co. Donegal and has been using Salers since 1993.

He keeps around 90 suckler cows- 60 spring calvers and 30 autumn calvers on good around Newtowncunningham in Co. Donegal. He began keeping sucklers cows in 1987 buying Angus X Friesian, Simmental X Friesian and some Hereford X Friesian heifer calves from local farms. These were bulled to calf in March 1989 as 2 year olds. They were bulled first time top a Romagnola and Simmental. The Romagnola calves although very easy calved, were born almost every colour to the Simmental and Hereford Cows and mostly black to the Angus cows. Because he wanted a bit of colour consistency in his calves he stopped using Romagnola and bulled everything to Simmental from then on.

He bought his first Salers bull in autumn of 1993 initially to use on heifers to give them easier calving. The first heifer to calve to a Saler bull calved outside in September 1994 at 2 years old. To date over 100 heifers have calved unassisted to Salers bulls.

For the next four years all cows and heifers were crossed to Salers bulls. The spring born calves are weaned in October. The bulls are then fed intensively to be finished at 13-14 months the following May/June. The Autumn born calves are housed in November (the cows kept on slats with a creep for the calves) grazed the following summer with their dams, weaned in July, housed in September and finished at 16-18 months, again as bulls.

The top 1/3 of the heifers are kept as replacements and most of the rest are sold either as bulling heifers or else incalf. He now has a mixture of Simmental X Salers, Angus X Salers and an increasing number of 3/4 and 7/8 Salers cows.

The Simmental X Salers cow is an excellent cow born almost always red with a white splash on their faces- they are very milky and very good cslvers. Their one drawback is because they are so milky they need to be well fed for the first 2 to 3 years until the achieve their adult weight. Pure bred Salers cows are only fully mature at six years old.

The Salers X Angus cow is probably his ideal cow. The Salers add a bit of size and "continental" to the fleshiness of the Angus. She is easier fed and weans a good calf and can be wintered cheaper. As Donegal winters are long it is important that cows carry a bit of flesh at weaning rather than having to put it on when housed.

3/4 and 7/8 bred Salers cows have been AI'd to Belgian Blue, Culard Charolais and angus bulls. All calves were born unassisted except one exceptional double muscled Charolais heifer which was coming backward and had to be assisted.

Ivan says " Everything i had been told and read about the Salers breed has proved to be true. As more and more farmers reduce their labour or go part time we need an easy calving and easy to manage breed- Salers "THE SUCKLER COW"










Farm Feature: Plain sailing with Salers

Tadgh Crowley

My first expoasure to the Salers breed was when I visited the stand at the National ploughing Championships in the mid- 90's. My interest was immediately aroused by their apparent abilty to calve with ease and their good reputation as a suckler dam.

At that stage, I kept a herd of 90 Spring calving sucklers, down on the south coast in Co. Waterford. There was a mixture of Simmental and Angus crosses, with a few Limousin thrown in for good measure. I had two Charolais bulls which I considered as good finishing cross. I was producing weanlngs for sale in earl;y November. The bulls were making great money but the heifers were giving a poor return and added to this, was the problem that they were unsuitable for replacements.

The calving season was becoming a nightmare- keeping losses to a minimum, demanded and awful lot of vigilance. A big percentage of the herd (up to 35%) needed assistance...many nights of broken sleep!! Around this time also, in the year 1994 to 1997 I became the proud father of a daughter and two sons. Such a hectic lifestyle left both Mum and Dad totally wrecked and feeling very frayed at the edges! One more problem, which reared its ugly head quiet regularly on the farm was photsynthesization on animals with white pigmentation which led to severe burns.

An accumulation of these factors, sent me searching for an alternatyive breed to cross with, which would the characteristics to ease these problems......entrez LA SALERS.

In April 2000, I purchased the first Salers bull, Wicklow Max, from Gertie and James Mason at Ballymerrigan, to cover 19 heifers. These duly gave birth to 19 live calves all on their own! I realised that I was on to a winner! There were also 7 or 8 cows served by Max that season with similar results. The second Salers bull, Wicklow Bismarck arrived in Ballydwan for Spring 2002.

Some of the finest stock ever produced on the farm were sold to Kepak, Clonee in early Nov 2002. They were a batch of Saler bulls e.g.





475 kg

470 kg




6 weanling heifers were sold at a special replacement heifer sale at Tullow Mart in Co. Carlow. They were born in early February, and averaged 348 kg and made €584. This performance surpassed my expectations and this year all the calves born, are by the two Salers bulls.

The first Salers X heifers calved this Spring and i am reaping the benefits, namely ease of calving, lively and healthy calves and literally no veterinary bills!! A farming neighbour pops in occasionally and asks " How are those 'sailors' going for you?" I don't even need to answer, he can see for himself!!

Farm Feature: The change to 12 month beef

It's only within the past 12 months that Co. Westmeath based farmer Billy Small from Rathconrath, Mullingar has changed his suckling system to 12 month old beef. Perhaps, now than ever before, quality is becoming more of an issue especially in the light of Fischler's decoupling proposals. For Billy, finishing his weanlings at 12 months is one route to secure a niche market at a premium price. This premium market, in addition to capitalisation on the slaughter premium justified the change according to Billy.

This Co. Westmeath based farmer manages 100 Saler/ Charolais cross cows- the majority of which are 3/4 and 7/8 bred Saler crosses. A Culard Charolais bull is used on the herd. Up to last year, bull weanlings were sold after weaning at autumn sales. Taking a look at soe of the statistics from 2001, bulls average 325- 350 kg and made from €700 to €750. In comparison, having changed his system in 2002, bulls averaged 512 kg liveweight (297kg carcase or 64.9 lbs per cwt) and produced an average of €1,145. Similarily heifers averaged 430 kg liveweight (249kg or 64.75 lbs per cwt) and average €790. In terms of grading, Billy reports that 85% of the bulls scored U grade while 65% of the heifers were U's. A top price of €1,330 was received last year for one of his Charolais/Salers cross bulls. Not bad for 12 months work! Certainly for the moment, the higher input system, that involves feeding a cereal-based ration seems to be justified.



  • Salers a suckler breed that
  • Are easily maintained even on rough forage, having lots of milk and a
  • Large pelvis. They calves unassisted
  • Even when crossed to a Heavily Muscled sire which
  • Reduces time and labour costs at calving and are the ideal
  • Solution to part-time and extensive farmers needs.