The Salers (aka La race Salers in French) has no definitive origin. One possibility is that they are descendants of some Neolithic Longhorns from the southeastern part of the Mediterranean who wandered up to France through the Iberian Peninsula.
Another possibility has them originating in the Iberian Peninsula about 2000 years ago and then brought to France by the Celts for use as transportation and work. This is believed because of the similarities between the Salers and the Retinta and the Alentejana.
Over time in France, shorthorned cattle were favored over longhorned cattle, but longhorned cattle held onto their position in some isolated pockets. One such place is Massif Central – a large region in the middle of southern France which occupies 15 percent of the country, has a rugged terrain of mountains and plateaus, poor volcanic soil, a high altitude of 600 to 1300 meters (1,968 - 4,265 feet), and very long winters. It is here that the Salers breed became a success.
Around the middle of the 19th century in the Auvergne region of Massif Central, a breeder named Tyssandier d’Escous began selection for improvement within these cattle. By 1853, he had officially given the Salers its breed name and was involved in both its continued development and promotion. However, a herdbook was not established until 1908.
The Salers is fairly large, has curly mahogany fur and light-colored, lyre-shaped horns. They also have dark, hard hooves and strong heels that can withstand shifting rocky terrains that would cause lameness in many other breeds. The cows are very maternal and birth easily.
Today, the Salers is very popular as a robust beef breed both in France and abroad. Their ability to adapt to extreme temperature fluctuations makes them very welcome in places such as Texas, Portugal, Canada and Russia. They have been exported to numerous other countries and are raised as both pure stock and to increase hybrid vigor through crossbreeding with other cattle populations.
You can also go to:
The Cow Wall® of France
My Daily Cow® France and read about other French cattle breeds.