As one of the last European breeds to be imported into North America, the
Salers (Sa'lair) breed has made tremendous strides in growth and is now an
influential part of the American cattle industry. Currently, the breed is
registering over 28,400 head per year and is growing at a phenomenal rate each
year. At a time when most breeds are registering fewer numbers, the Salers
breed is continuing to increase by producing profit oriented cattle for the
The historical journey for the Salers breed, was first recorded by
archaeologists as depicted from ancient drawings in cave dwellings dated some
7,000 years ago. The drawings were found near Salers, a small medieval town in
the center of France. These drawings and the Salers cattle of today, which are
very different from all other French breeds, bear some resemblance to the
ancient Egyptian red cattle.
With such a unique background, the breed is considered to be one of the
oldest and most genetically pure of all European breeds. This fact produces a
marked positive effect on the predictability of Salers in crossbreeding
Salers cattle are now known to be native to the Auvergne region of south
central France. This isolated, mountainous area noted for its rough, rocky
terrain and harsh, damp climate is characterized by poor soil and a wide range
of temperatures throughout the summer and long winter. As the topography
allowed for little cereal grain production, the Salers cattle were forced to
become foragers with bred-in range-ability to utilize, almost entirely, native
grasses in summer and hay in winter.
Until modern times Salers cattle were respected not only as beef animals,
but as milk producers for cheese products and were also utilized as strong
sources of animal power.
Salers cattle are typically horned and dark mahogany red in color, however
a growing number of polled and black Salers are available. The availability of
polled genetics in addition to both red and black, gives Salers the advantage
of breeding program flexibility.
In the late 1960's and early 1970's, North American cattlemen were looking
for new breeds to improve American beef cattle. In their search, a group of
Canadians and Americans were impressed by Salers in France and eventually
imported the first Salers bull, Valliant, into Canada in 1972. His semen was
sold both in the United States and Canada and a new chapter in efficient beef
production was about to begin.
Grassroots cattlemen were the breed's U.S. founders. They felt the cattle
should prove themselves under the tough rigors and conditions of the
commercial cattle industry before Salers were widely marketed. The breed was
equal to the challenge. Salers created a strong market interest and excitement
within the commercial cattle industry. This led to the historical formation of
the American Salers Association in 1974 by 14 innovative and progressive
cattlemen in Minneapolis, Minn.
The first imports directly into the United States came in 1975 with the
arrival of 1 bull and 4 heifers. From 1975 to 1978, 52 heifers and 6 bulls
reached the United States and more than 100 arrived in Canada. These cattle
are the foundation of the breed in North America.
With more than a decade of solid growth behind it, the Salers breed
continues to make lasting contributions to modern commercial cattle
production. Documented proof of the breed's attributes of calving ease,
maternal efficiency and carcass merit, through recognized research
institutions and universities, assure Salers a bright future and a viable role
in beef cattle production. The "balanced breed" is meeting, and will continue
to meet, the needs of the beef industry.
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