Black Salers and Blackie Onassis

Salers cows are red. They look like this, although usually not quite as silly as 33 here:


There’s a rare gene in the herd that gives you black Salers. A lot of the French farmers don’t like the black color, so they don’t breed from it. Jean-Claude, the farmer from which I bought my cows, is the opposite. He has been trying to breed black cows for fifteen years. He has a very good looking black Salers bull, too:


Black cows can be more expensive. He bought two black mother cows recently that cost 50% more than a regular cow. This seems odd to me: if many breeders want to get rid of the black gene then there should be a supply of cull heifers that would lower the price.

The USA likes their cows black and polled, so photos of Salers in the USA are often of black animals, like the ones at Weyer Ranch.

In the fifteen years of his black Salers hobby, Jean-Claude has never sold a black female. There just aren’t that many.  This has all changed with the black heifer below.


She’s nearly three and she’s about to have her first calf. The word they use for a first-calf heifer is ‘tersonne’ but that seems to be a word local to the Auvergne since my Gascon cow farmer neighbor don’t know it. Also cows are about three when they give birth to their first calf which is late by US standards.

We’ve just bought set of cows to enlarge the herd, and the black heifer is now on our farm. She’s not a classic beauty – she short and stocky with a broken right horn. She’s an intelligent and curious cow who always seems to be in the middle of things. I like her. She’s now on our farm.


We call her Blackie Onassis, so named to honor the drummer in Urge Overkill.

There’s so much going on at the farm right now between discing and seeding, dealing with the new herd, tagging calves and building the new corral. All three elements of the farm are in major work mode. And just around the corner is hay making.

The story with black Salers is that having one in your herd guards against storms. Thanks, Blackie.

5 thoughts on “Black Salers and Blackie Onassis

  1. bizzyella says:

    All this talk about the Auvergne has me wondering about something. In a couple of months the hubby and I will be staying in or fairly near Laguiole for a few days. Are you guys anywhere near Laguiole and if you are, would you consider a visit from a couple of total city folk? We can bring goodies from Paris…

  2. wobbly says:

    Hey Lynn,

    A visit would be grand but we are a very long way from the Auvergne. We’re talking five hours drive. I’ve never been to Laguiole, but there’s a super fancy restaurant there. I have the guy’s cookbook (Michel Bras) but I’ve never been brave enough to cook anything from it. The place looks very interesting although I am glad you are waiting for it to warm up before visiting. 🙂

  3. bizzyella says:

    Oh, five hours is pushing it. Bummer. We are actually going to be staying at Michel Bras, I guess so we can have dinner and then just allow ourselves to be rolled back to the room. Another time though, seriously. I’m doing photos for a cookbook and I just can’t believe there could be too many pictures of “la France profonde.” Or, if you or Jean will be up in Paris between April 9 and August 9, check to see whether we are there. I don’t check in at the Café very often any more, so something on a blog might work best. Mention that you’ll be coming up or something.

  4. paddy Fenton says:

    Delighted to see your Salers.I am really interested in French non mainstream breeds but all the societies make similar claims -easycalving ,low maintenance ,good fertility feet etc.I am looking for a low maintenance breed and am considering Gascon for their hardiness.Salers have a wild reputation here in Ireland .Aubrac are also an option but I just am veering towards Gascon.
    I would love to hear an unbiased opinion on the pros and cons

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