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Our History with Salers

Salers were first brought to the Flying T Ranch in 1982. We had read the propaganda about these ancient red cows and agreed that it sounded too good to be true. After all, every breed claims to be the best so why should we figure this one was any different. Still we needed some light birth weight bulls for our heifers and these were supposed to reduce calving problems and give us a worthwhile calf at weaning time too. To make a long story short, we located two Salers bulls and turned them out with the promise, or threat, that we would tell the world what was wrong with this breed after a couple of years of "on the ranch" experience.

Well, that was seven years ago now, and our report is not what we would have anticipated. Our first Salers calves out of commercial heifers averaged 70 Ibs. at birth and were slender and in the correct position. They were the most vigorous calves we had ever seen and if they weren't tagged within the first hour we couldn't catch them. Often they were up and looking for milk before their mothers got up. They were the first calves that the coyotes couldn't catch! And to our surprise the little critters were very winter hardy. We lost no Salers to the cold. That couldn't be said of calves out of our other bulls. When we finished calving 80 Salers cross calves that year, all were alive and so were their mothers. Their birth weights were 15 Ibs. lighter than the previous year and we expected to pay for that at weaning time so we were completely surprised when the Salers cross calves outweighed the rest of our crop by 70 Ibs. and those calves were raised by first calf heifers!

That first year convinced us that we couldn't afford not to use Salers bulls. We replaced all our bulls with Salers and have watched our weaning weights climb ever since. This year our entire steer crop averaged 600 Ibs., which is a 130 Ib. gain since we switched to Salers bulls on our English cross cow herd.

Now that our herd is nearly all Salers cows, from half bloods to full bloods, we can see how the mature cattle fare in our eastern Oregon environment. They are definitely easy keepers. They grow an impressive hair coat that keeps them warm in the winter, which is a much more economical approach than the thick fat layer that other breeds have to use. This is probably why these cattle produce carcasses with a minimum of external fat. Anyhow, in our subzero winters these cattle thrive without eating us out of house and home..

They have also proven to be very fertile. We had some bad experiences with other European breeds that reached maturity late and then didn't breed back on time. This has not been a problem with Salers. Our heifers calve on their second birthday and breed back to calve as 3-year-olds.

The bulls have proven to be exceptionally fertile. We exposed 110 cows to one Salers bull and had 90 calves born during February the next winter. Another Salers bull ran with three exotic cross bulls for three months. When the calves were born we had 85 Salers out of 175 cows bred by the four bulls.

Salers are not a breed that needs to be pampered. They are the only European breed that we have run across that can truly be called range cattle. They like mountains and will graze places no other cattle will go. And they will eat whatever feed they find. They are tough!

To sum up our experience with the Salers breeding herd: calving problems are nearly nonexistent in the half blood to full blood Salers cows, there have been no prolapses, we are essentially free of pinkeye and foot-rot problems, we need only half as many bulls to settle the same number of cows as with other breeds, we have a lot more twins, and the cows are easy keepers.

Our experience with feeding and carcass contests suggests that the steers are very competitive and worthy of the premiums we have been receiving for our steer crops. The first Salers cross steer we had in a feeding contest won the rate of gain with a 4.62 lbs. per day for 112 days. He was butchered at 14 months of age and weighed 1208 lbs., graded choice and had a yield grade of 2.68. The next year our Salers cross steer won that carcass contest. In 1987 we sold only two Salers steers for 4-H club calves. One became a Carcass of Merit in Santa Maria, California and the other won a Carcass of Merit at John Day, Oregon. So our experience has been that in the feedlot and on the rail our Salers crosses are performing as advertised.

These cattle just may be the best adapted breed to our conditions in Oregon. If what we have seen on the Flying T is at all typical of the results that other ranchers could obtain in their herds, we certainly feel safe in recommending that they give Salers a try.

We have bulls of all ages as well as semen and embryos always available. We're especially proud of our polled Salers, which are considered to be among the best in the breed. When you're in our area stop by and we'll be glad to show you the cattle that have caught the attention of progressive ranchers around the world.

NOTE: This report was originally released in 1988. In the past twenty seven years we have found no reason to change any of its conclusions.

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