Breed Features

At birth, Salers calves are typically long and slender and have small heads. This shape is a major contributor to the renowned calving ease of the breed. Birth weights of Salers-sired calves are usually between 30 and 40 kilograms and vary with age, size and breed of the dam.

A Grey Bull Newborn Salers are extremely active and aggressive sucklers. Salers females are usually very conscientious and vigilant mothers, often caring for other calves in the group as well as their own. Dingoes would have great difficulty in taking calves from Salers cows but weighing or tagging a newborn calf rarely presents a problem. The gregarious nature of Salers makes them easy to muster and work through yards.

featuresSalers teats are normally very functional and udders are well attached and positioned out of harm’s way. Longevity of the breed is excellent, so Salers cows can still produce efficiently at more than 10 years of age. This can mean big savings in costs for replacements.

A Grey BullSalers normally have well hooded eyes with dark skin pigment around the eyes and teats and dark pigment on the eyeball itself. Eye cancer and pink eye in Salers and Salers-cross animals are virtually unknown.

A Salers bull over British or Bos Indicus breed cows can produce the extra muscle and growth normally sought from terminal sire breeds but without the calving difficulties and loss of eating quality.

Another big advantage with the Salers bull, is that the females produced can be retained as ideal replacement breeders. A second cross Salers is still an excellent animal for meat or as a breeder.

Salers bulls have been used over all the major British and Bos Indicus breeds in Australia with impressive results. Lines of uniform cattle have been produced which bring premiums in the saleyards or on the hook.

Do Salers make More Money?

Peter Ford in Victoria sent a pen of 30-months-old Angus steers and a pen of 18 months old Salers/Angus cross steers that had been raised under similar conditions to the Wodonga Saleyards on the same day. Even though they were 12 months younger, the Salers-cross made $100 per head more.

Is there any value in the high libido of Salers Bulls?

Basalt Grazing Company of Rolleston, Queensland, used a Salers bull in each of two paddocks with seven or eight other bulls and 220 cows. In these two paddocks, the pregnancy rate was 96% while in another nine mating groups with similar numbers but without Salers bulls, the calving percentage was consistently 80%. This represents a 20% increase in production with no extra cost.

Are they Survivors?

The Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University in the USA conducted a study in which Salers bulls and Angus bulls were used over similar heifers to evaluate calving ease. Birth weights of calves were similar – 33 and 34kg – but the Salers sires gave 10% fewer calving difficulties. The significant difference in the study was that all the Salers sired calves survived to weaning while only 63% of the Angus sired calves survived.

Reg Haywood joined 20 Salers bulls with 2200 Brahman cows at “Avon Downs” Clermont in Central Queensland in early 1996 during severe drought conditions and all these bulls survived the joining.

Do Salers have Bigger Pelvic Areas?

The Montana State University in the USA measured 153 Salers, 175 Angus and 94 Hereford yearlings and found the average pelvic areas of the Salers to be 15 square centimetres greater than the Herefords and 10 square centimetres greater than the Angus. In a similar study, the Colorado State University measured more than 900 yearlings representing 17 breeds in the USA and again confirmed that Salers had, on average, larger pelvic areas than any of the other breeds examined.

Are Salers females Ferfile?

Lindsay and Lysa MacKenzie of Jondaryan in Qld have their Salers recorded on Breedplan. The figures show Salers females with a calving interval of 315 days. These are heifers which calved as two year olds in 1992 and have had five calves in four years in what has been virtually continuous drought conditions. Welby Davidson of Legume (NSW) had Salers/Braford cross females with their second calf by the time they were 30 months of age.

Will Salers females Milk?

Research conducted in France with 4864 lactations found Salers to have an average daily milk production of 11.1 litres over a 274 day lactation (more than 3000 litres). By comparison, this same trial shows Charolais at 5.7 and Limousins at 4.9 litres per day. Also, high protein milk necessary for cheese production is another Salers characteristic.

What about Eating Quality?

Shane Spargo operates a butchery near Lismore in NSW and he put some Salers-cross carcases bred by his father, Tony, at Tabulum, through his shop. The customer response was such that sales increased by 300 kilograms per week. The majority of Tony’s calves now are sold direct to consumers through the butchery. Terry Gleeson of Chinchilla in Qld is one of a number of butchers using Salers bulls to breed cattle to put through their own shops.

Do Salers really Calve Easily?

Every breed claims easy calving, so personal experience of Salers is probably necessary to be convinced that they really are out on their own for calving ease in a beef breed. Talking with any Salers breeder should help.

The US Meat Animal Research Centre (MARC), in the world’s most comprehensive multi-breed comparison trial conducted over the last 20 years established in Cycle 4 Phase 1 that Salers bulls over Angus and Hereford cows produced 97.8% unassisted births. In Cycle 4 Phase 3, the performance of females of various breeds was compared. (See table 1). Salers-cross females calving as two-year-olds had considerably fewer calving difficulties than traditional breeds. The table also shows that the MARC trials confirm that Salers cross females WEAN HEAVIER CALVES.

Breed Group of Dam Calving unassisted 200-day weight
Salers 85.7 523.9
Hereford-Angus 68.9 487.5
Charolais 72.9 498.7
Gelbvieh 70.7 507.7
Pinzqauer 64.0 508.1
Shorthorn 75.2 512.6
Galloway 74.9 449.2
Piedmontese 64.6 491.9

John Arnell of “Crescent Vale” near Tara was losing about 20% of his heifers with calving problems. He introduced Salers bulls and the losses fell to around 2%. Not only does John have the extra calves to sell, but the number of replacement females he needs to retain is 20% less.

Will Salers Marble?

At Beef ’94 the only steer with a marble score above 4 was a three-quarter Salers. The other Salers cross steer in the competition had a marble score of 4.

In Tasmania, 79 Salers/Angus steers processed by a Japanese owned feedlot in 1995 marbled twice as well as a different crossbred group and better than a group of pure Angus, fed for comparison.

How will they Perform in Feedlots?

A consignment of 600 Salers/Santa and Salers/Shorthorn steers fed at Beef City near Toowoomba gained weight 20% faster than the industry average and produced outstanding carcases with fine textured meat and marbling scores as high as 4.

Salers have been Champion or Reserve Champion 18 times in the last 17 years in the USA’s most highly regarded lotfeeding and carcase competition, the National Western in Colorado which compares feedlot performance in terms of feed efficiency and carcase merit. For six consecutive years, Salers steers topped the “best net” return category in this competition.

How well will they Fatten on grass?

Glen and David Lamb from Legume in Northern NSW used two Salers bulls in their Devon herd. The Salers/Devon cross steers were run on grass until consigned to AMH Meatworks as two-tooth steers for the Japanese trade. Every Salers/Devon cross steer in the consignment of 60 had a fat depth between 8mm and 22mm and excellent growth rates, which put them squarely into the top price bracket.

Can Salers Produce Quality Carcases?

At Beef ’97 the “best two carcases” were five-eighth Salers and three-eighth Brahman steers entered by Wally MacKenzie of Comet, Queensland. A heifer of similar breeding won the Macks Meats Carcase Competition a few weeks later, with an outstanding 91 points – well clear of the opposition.

How good is their Growth Rate on grass?

The Gippsland Field Days Steer Trial is an annual grassfed competition conducted at the Lardner Park property for up to 120 entries with emphasis on the comparison of a variety of breeds.

Results below show the consistent ability of Salers:

  • 1993/94 (Salers/Poll Hereford) highest weight gain, Japanese Trade Section – 36.5% above the average.
  • 1994/95 (Salers/Poll Hereford) highest weight gain for a pair of steers – 42% and 30.4% above average.
  • 1996/97 (Salers) highest weight gain for a pair of steers Japanese Trade – 27% and 18% above average.
  • 1996/97 (Salers/Hereford) highest weight gain Domestic Trade Section – 38% above the average.

In the recent Mansfield Grassfed Trial, a Salers/Hereford steer had the highest weight gain (22kg more than second place) and went on to be second in the carcase section with 10mm of fat and the largest rib eye in the competition.

John Davis manages a property at Cunningham’s Gap near Warwick for the total Health and Education Foundation where he runs 80 Murray Grey breeders. John joined the top half of the herd to a Murray Grey bull and the bottom half to a Salers bull and all progeny were run together on hardwood forest country with some cultivation. When sold, the Salers cross were 33% heavier than the Murray Greys.