Females in demand at Salco Salers
PUREBRED female Salers are in such high demand, that Salco Salers stud can’t breed enough of them.
The Lang Lang stud runs 120 breeders, and sell 40 to 50 females a year.
Stud co-principal Peter Rogers said this popularity comes from the breed being renowned for its calving ease.
“In the last five years, we just haven’t been able to meet demand for our females,” Mr Rogers said.
“It’s all about the maternal side with the Salers, all of our animals calve unsupervised, including the heifers.”
This is convenient for Mr Rogers and co-principal Cheryl Bass, as they both have jobs in Melbourne during the week, only working on their West Gippsland property on weekends.
“Salers are quite big animals, an average cow might weigh 650 kilograms, and an average calf about 37kg, but is super narrow and will just pop out,” he said.
“Nobody needs to stay on the property to watch them calve, and I think other breeders are realising these benefits.”
They first got into Salers in the 80s, after not originally knowing a lot about the breed.
“There wasn’t a lot of information, it was a new breed at the time, but a few people had been doing well with them,” he said.
“We knew some people who were getting involved, and we liked what we saw.
“Our first five females were from France, and we did a lot of embryo work to try and build up our herd from those foundation animals.”
Mr Rogers said even though the breed was not initially known for its docility, he has worked hard to ensure his herd has good temperament.
“We select quite fiercely on temperament, you can’t sell bulls to people that aren’t docile,” he said.
“Like a lot of other European breeds that came to Australia, Salers had temperament issues, which mainly came from the way they were farmed in Europe.
“Typical practice in France is for cattle to be housed and hand-fed during winter, which teaches docility, rather than being paddock-run as in Australia.
“I think at the start, not a lot of Australian breeders had the numbers to be ruthless with their selection, so there were some poor examples of the breed being sold to commercial breeders, but this has changed.”
Salco sells around a dozen bulls a year, and Mr Rogers said they get three types of customers that are after animals from their stud.
“A lot of people come for females and bulls, or females that they want to produce purebred bulls out of,” he said.
“But there are other customers who run completely different operations, like one in Bairnsdale, who runs quite a big herd of Herefords, and crossbreeds, looking for hybrid vigour, and needs terminal sires, so our Salers bulls with strong BreedPlan figures are a perfect fit.
“He wants his calves to be 100kg heavier at weaning, and I’ve seen some photos where his calves are as big as their Hereford mothers, and these crossbred calves are very popular with the feedlots.”
He said as well as selling cattle to many regular clients, Salco also leases bulls out to Victorian farmers.
“You’d usually only have one bull to about 30 females, so we sell a fair few more females than bulls, but we do a bit of leasing for people who don’t run big enough properties to house the bull all year around,” he said.
They also recently sold a handful of bulls to a station owner in Queensland.
“This was a big first for us a few months ago, he’s been breeding Salers across Brahmans for some time now, and bought six bulls from us,” he said.
“The Salers give him the extra growth and fertility characteristics that the Brahmans lack.”
Mr Rogers said he is looking forward to participating in Stock & Land Beef Week again this year, after having taken part almost since the event’s inception.
“We’ve taken many benefits out of Beef Week, I think we at least get one new customer out of the event every year,” he said.
“Even if you don’t get many people turning up on the day, people will find you through the magazine, or website, and other things like that.”