It All Stated With a Bird Hunt
Salers in the South
Talk with Andy Sims about Salers cattle and he gets a chuckle out of how it all started almost 30 years ago. “These two guys came by wanting to go bird hunting on my property. Well, we don’t allow anyone to go bird hunting on our property, so I told them that. We talked and talked for a while, talked about cows and it wasn’t very long and I could tell they were good guys, so I ended up letting them go bird hunting,” Andy laughs. ”One of those guys was Jo Colmore and he was getting started in Salers cattle and I ended up buying a red Salers bull from him,” tells Andy, “that is when Salers were red. We had been using Beefmaster bulls at that time. I’ve been sold on Salers ever since.”
Located near Sylvania, in northeast Georgia, Andy describes the farm on Sand Mountain as a great place to live and a great place to raise kids and grand kids. Their farm has seen a lot over the last 47 years; a lot of different crops and different livestock. “After I got home from the service, I began farming and that is all I have ever done for the last 47 years. We started in the hog business with 12 gilts and farmed about 40 acres of corn to feed the pigs. As the swine operation grew, so did the farming and we were growing 80 acres of corn before long. We had to keep growing more corn to feed the pigs and we got up to about 400 head of pigs.” Corn was a mainstay to the operation until one year the drought hit and they grew some wheat instead of corn and followed that with grain sorghum. ” We got up to farming 300 acres and double cropped that, so we were producing quite a bit of feed. We soon added soybeans to the crop mix.” Then, in 2000, when pigs got so cheap, the Sims’ went totally to cattle and got out of the pigs entirely. They have run a closed operation, bringing in only bulls and raising all of their own replacement females. All of the cows are now Salers influence and some of them are up to purebred Salers.
“I’ve had some of my neighbors ask about what kind of bull we are using. I tell them Salers. The conversation usually starts with them asking if I have any calving problems. Of course I tell them no, we just don’t have any kind of issues with the Salers cattle. Those neighbors usually become users of Salers and are just tickled with the results. I had one neighbor that was having a bunch of calving problems and was having to pull calves. He got a Salers bull and eliminated his calving problems. I could tell you several stories about other people as well. All the time I have used them in the last 30 years, I only ever pulled 1 calf and he was coming backwards. That is just tremendous calving ease,” confirms Andy.
The fertility of Salers cattle – the bulls and the females – has been excellent, in addition to the calving ease. Andy tells of some recent results, “We kept 19 heifers back as replacements recently and had 19 calves born unassisted. They just get bred up and stay that way. I have one cow that is old enough to vote! She is 18 years old and still producing good, raising a calf every year. The longevity of these Salers cows is really good. They make good mama’s, there’s just no doubt about it.”
The farm has truly been diversified over the years. “In 1989, we got 3 broiler houses and found that chicken litter made great fertilizer for our pastures. We quit that a couple of years ago” So, the farm has had pigs, chickens and continues to have beef cattle today. They have raised corn, wheat, grain sorghum and soybeans. They also raise Bermuda, Orchard and Fescue hay and grass.
“Being raised on a farm was a great thing for our kids. It taught them how to work. They have commented about this.” Son, Anthony, is a doctor in a large family practice and daughter, Stephanie, is a teacher. One of the things you really hope in life is that your kids will grow up and make a meaningful contribution to society. “We prayed that our kids would make a contribution and I think they are doing just that,” comments Andy proudly. They also have 2 grand daughters and 2 grandsons which they thoroughly enjoy when they come to the farm.
Andy’s father was from a family of 10 kids and they were sharecroppers. At a recent family reunion, Andy discovered only 1 of the descendants (Andy) remains in farming. Andy may well be the last Sims in his family to farm, but it has been a very rewarding livelihood and a great way to raise kids. Salers cattle have made the labor aspect much easier than some of the other options that are out there. The fertility, calving ease and longevity they contribute make it much easier to have time to spend doing other things rather than working for the cows, like getting the farming done, enjoying the grandkids and maybe even – bird hunting!