Veterinarians from around the country give their viewpoints and experiences on Salers cattle. Here’s what they have to say :
Dr. Harvey (William) Hall, retired veterinarian from Crossville, Tennessee, has seen on several farms in the area what Salers cattle can do. “I’ve just been amazed at the level of performance these Salers cattle have with their tremendous calving ease.” I’ve recommended Salers cattle to several producers in the area. One of them is Triple C Farms at Jamestown, Tenn. They took my advice and have ended up with a bunch of Salers cattle at their farm and have turned into a top breeder in the area. I’ve had just about all of the breeds over the years and I haven’t seen one that will perform with the calving ease that Salers will. If I was getting back into the cattle business I would definitely choose to raise Salers cattle.”
“Calving ease is what the old vet wants because he doesn’t want to get up in the middle of the night,” comments Dr. Hall. “I was up at the Salers sale in Cookeville a few years ago and met a lady there that found out I was a vet. She said she had called her vet when a calf needed assistance at delivery, and the vet came and delivered it. Before the vet left he told her that he ‘was getting too old for this and she needed to get a Salers bull’. That is what she was at the sale for, to get that Salers bull.”
Dr. Hall tells about a Salers steak he had at Claiborne Farms – another former client of his that raises some top Salers cattle, “The best steak I’ve ever set in front of!” he proclaims.
Dr. David Freuh operates the Maryville Vet Clinic in Maryville, Missouri, and likes what he sees the cattle doing for commercial cattlemen. The fertility of the bulls is where it starts. “The Salers bull can cover more cows and gets more cows pregnant early” in his experience. “They just have fewer problems and are aggressive breeders,” adds Dr. Freuh, who began using the cattle back in 1984. Since then, the operation has been selling seedstock to purebred breeders and commercial producers across the United States and the family knows first-hand what they can add to a cow herd. Dr. Frueh tells of “one customer that has been with us since 1986. He runs about 250 cows in a crossbreeding program and he has been tracking his fertility and pregnancy rates by the age of his females. He has a short 45 day breeding season on his heifers and gets about 95% of them pregnant. His 2 year olds had 92% pregnant while his 3 year olds had 95% pregnant. Then, on his 4, 5 and 6 year olds, he got 100% of them pregnant and calving within a 45 day period. They have done this for 3 consecutive years. The older cows taper off a bit at 90-95% depending upon the year. So, his whole herd is getting 93-95% pregnant on a 60 day breeding season and all of them are Salers influence.”
The calving ease due to the shape of the calf and the calf vigor at birth are very important to his commercial customers. “The people that are currently our customers are absolutely sold on this. Until you’ve used them it is harder to convince someone who has never experienced it, until they try them,” continues Dr. Frueh, “They literally have to see it to believe it.”
“When our customers buy a bull they know they are going to get high weaning weights and good growth and be able to sell more pounds of calf at weaning time,” adds Dr. Frueh.
Dr. Frueh has fed a lot of Salers cattle over the years for the commodity market and branded beef programs. Having fed over 1000 head of his customers’ calves through the PM Beef program in 2001 and continuing to feed out all of their calves, gives them real appreciation for carcass traits and feedlot performance. “Their red meat yield, consistently good yield grades and overall quality makes them hard to beat. One of the reasons we got into the business was because of how well the Salers cattle had done in the National Western Stock Show’s Fed Beef Contest. Maverick Ranch won the contest or were reserve champion most every year they entered,” emphasizes Dr. Frueh.
Dr. Mark Poell, operates the Hoxie Vet Clinic, Hoxie, Kansas, and shares his experience with the cattle. “We’ve been working with Salers cattle for about 18 years and the fertility of the cattle is one of the things that just really stands out. The fertility on the heifers is very impressive. When we pregnancy check them, they are usually all bred up in pretty good shape. The semen tests on the bulls have always been good. I can only recall 2 bulls in all those years that had any issues and one of them was a yearling that had a slight infection, we treated him and 30 days later, he was fine. The fertility on Salers bulls has just been outstanding.”
“The calving ease has never been a problem,” Dr. Poell continues, “We have very seldom seen any OB problems in 18 years. You’ll have the odd one that needs help, but very seldom do we see any issues. If I was in the commercial cow business breeding yearling heifers, I would definitely have a Salers bull turned in with them.”
“We also don’t see any eye problems in them. This year with the grass and flies we are seeing lots of eye problems, but we just don’t have that with Salers calves.”
I’ve talked with several commercial producers that use them in some big rugged country and the Salers bulls will really cover the country and find those cows in heat.
Dr. Dave Gallob, Crawford Veterinary Clinic, Crawford, Colorado, uses Salers bulls on his cow herd after seeing how they work on other ranches in the mountains of western Colorado. “The main reason I use them in my cows is I’m busy pulling calves somewhere else and I can’t be with my cows, so they have to have them on their own. I very, very seldom would ever have to assist one. And the calves get up and nurse right away in the rain or snow whatever the conditions are.”
Dr. Gallob adds, “Health-wise, they are very healthy cattle. We get no cancer eyes and very seldom a footrot on the higher percentage Salers cattle. Another benefit he sees is the fertility of Salers cattle. “The fertility is just excellent. We consistently see well above 90% on pregnancy checks and in our own herd only had one open cow last year - an old cow – out of about 40 cows,” he replies.
The West End Veterinary Clinic, Buhl, Idaho, is where Dr. Todd Wells, calls home. Dr Wells began working with some Salers customers about 10 years ago and about 7 years ago, decided to give them a try on his own family’s cows. “My family has always had some beef cows and I had been working with Sunken Canyon Ranch, fertility testing their bulls and I was always really impressed with the fertility on the bulls and their conformation. So, I decided to try them in our own cow herd,” says Dr. Wells. It wasn’t long after that he had the opportunity to purchase about 30 head of Salers influence cows to add to their cow herd. “The one trait I am by far the happiest about is the calving ease. We have really never had to pull any Salers calves, they come out really easy and the vigor of the calf and the mothering ability of the cow are all just very impressive” comments Dr. Wells. His dad does all of the calving as he is usually unavailable, assisting clients with their calving, so the cattle need to calve on their own.
“I tell my clients that a good rule of thumb is that calf needs to be up and have nursed within 2-3 hours after birth. With our Salers calves it is usually 10 to 30 minutes and they are up nursing,” he continues, “the vigor of the calf is a great asset as well and will they ever perform. The calves may weigh less at birth, but by 30 days they have usually caught up with or surpassed some of the other cattle that weighed 90 to 100 pounds at birth that you had to work so hard to get and keep alive.”
The other area that has really impressed Dr. Wells is the carcass data he has been able to get back. Each year we send a steer up to the University of Idaho, its kind of a donation program, we send the steer up and they feed it out and get all of the carcass data back to the producer. I’ve been very impressed with the results; the ribeye area, the way the cattle grade – its very impressive. Out of about 60 steers we end up being in the top 2-4 in each category. After seeing the data, I am just very impressed with the carcass, I had heard about this, but to see it is very impressive,” he relates.
Dr. Wells comments about a convenience trait that has tremendous economic impact, adding “The longevity on the cattle is above and beyond what usually happens. We just sold our first bull that we got 7 years ago, so he would have been 8 ½ years old. We’ve got some good old cows that we bought in that first bunch of Salers cows that are 15 years old. They still have good conformation, structurally and in their udder, and they continue to get bred. They’ve just really held up well in some pretty dry conditions.”
Dr. Brent Barton, Hermiston, Oregon, operates out of the Oregon Trail Veterinary Clinic and is a veterinarian for Dick Snow’s Muleshoe Ranch of Echo, Oregon, for going on 20 years. “I’ve worked with several Salers operations over the years, first in Montana and now in Oregon with the Oregon Trail Vet Clinic, in the Hermiston area.”
The trait that really sticks out first with Dr. Barton is, “Certainly the maternal abilities of the Salers cow and her ability to cover the country and raise a calf,” he comments. “The growth characteristics of the calf are excellent and then in the feedlot, the growth and performance coupled with their marbling and meat characteristics have the cattle really contributing positive traits to the ranch and beyond.”
“One of the herds we work with is from Dick Snow of Echo. He does it right, he has the cattle ready and at weaning or in a pre-weaning program the cattle are just rock-solid. The immunity in the cattle is excellent with the way they are getting handled, part of this is genetic and part of it is management, and the cattle really respond well.”
When asked if he sees any fertility advantages with Salers cattle, he responds, “The fertility levels have been very good. Again, he preps the heifers well and they just respond tremendously well. We are getting a lot of the heifers bred to the AI (artificial insemination) breeding.”
“The big attributes I see for Salers cattle are Salers bulls being used in a crossbreeding program and using those Salers influence cows in the cowherd. Producers will really like how these cattle work.”
Well, the response from veterinary professionals says a lot for the Salers breed as a whole. Whether you consider the bulls to be used on heifers to get some added sleep during calving, using them on cows to get the same advantages and have growthy, heavy weaning calves, or retaining replacements in your herd to capture their maternal contributions (value), there are an abundance of traits they bring to the table.