SALERS IN THE UK
In the spring of 1984, a herd of Salers was founded in Cumbria – 60 females and 4 bulls with as wide a genetic base as possible. Consequently, heifers by 45 different sires and 4 bulls completely unrelated to each other were imported into the U.K. from France.
All the cattle were first choices. Growth rate, docility, femininity, straight top lines and correct legs were the main criteria for selection. All dams, and grand-dams where possible, were inspected and had to come up to the same standard. In that importation were two females carrying the poll factor. All lived up to expectations, bred and gave no calving problems whatsoever.
From the original importation Salers cattle quickly spread all over the British Isles from the Shetlands to Cornwall and Ireland. The Salers Cattle Society of the U.K. was formed by Bryan Walling, Robert Hudson, Fiona Walling, Thomas Dobson and Bruce Worsley of Crosthwaite, Kendal.
The first AGM was held in November 1986, at that point there were a mere 10 members. Bryan Walling was elected as first Chairman. Since then the breed has continued to expand with approximately 1000 pedigree Salers being registered annually by 175 members.
Devons, Durhams (Shorthorns) and West Highland cattle were imported into the Salers area in the mid 19th Century with the intention of improving the breed. At the same time a M. Tyssandier D’Escous challenged the introduction of outside blood and set about improving the Salers by selecting from within the breed. His method was considered most successful, and he became known as the Father of the Breed. A statue honouring his work stands in the middle of the small medieval town of Salers from which the breed takes its name.
From that time until well into the 20th century the breed was improved and developed as a triple purpose animal, Milk-Meat-Draught. In 1925 milk recording became compulsory and weight recording started in 1962. Resulting from all this improvement and recording has emerged the ideal suckler cow with bred-in foraging ability, able to utilise and thrive on native grasses and forage both summer and winter.
Modern genetic analysis shows that the effect of this importation, if any, was very small. Indeed one study shows that there is 400 times more Shorthorn blood in Charolais than Salers.