THE ULTIMATE SUCKLER BREED

Feature: Bunna Salers

Salers introduced to the herd

I first came across Salers cattle by chance. About 15 years ago, after a trip to a local mart to pick up some heifers that might one day make quality suckler cows, I was surprised on the way home to discover the letters SAx on the animal’s passport.

Intrigued, once home, I began to research for more information on this new found breed. To my pleasant surprise, I had stumbled upon a continental breed of cattle with good calving ability and strong maternal traits. This one was a keeper.

That Salers cross cow delivered eight calves including two sets of twins. Two of her calves were retained in the herd, three were exported and of the remaining three, two graded U while one of the twins graded an R.

All calvings were unassisted, apart from the two sets of twins, which I have recorded as needing some assistance.

Certainly a cow that paid her way, I was hooked on the breed.

Salers trait

The big positive for me, as a commercial suckler farmer with an off farm job, is the breed’s calving ability.

Salers have a larger than average pelvic area, which ensures a smooth calving process, even when combined with the more muscled continental breeds.

I believe that the behaviour of a herd of cattle is directly linked to how they are handled and managed by the stock person. I’ve never had an issue with difficult Salers and anybody who observes the herd comments on how quiet the animals are.

Herd system

The herd is 100% autumn calving, with cows calving from August to October and heifers targeted to calve as two year olds.

All cows are served using artificial insemination and a range of sires across breeds are used including Salers, Charolais, Limousin and Angus. Commercial Salers cows now make up about 3/4 of the herd along with a number of pedigree cows breed by artificial insemination to Salers bulls each year.

Bull weanlings are sold off farm at under a year old, with heifers either retained for breeding within the herd of brought to beef. A number of heifers are selected each year for sale as breeding heifers.

Future breeding plans

Over the next few years, I intend to expand the pedigree herd using heifers bred on farm and

I hope to be in a position to sell more surplus heifers for breeding along with offering male pedigree stock for sale off the farm.

The Salers breed is ticking all the boxes for me.

Trevor Boland, Bunnafedia, Dromard, Co Sligo

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