The Salers is a breed of cow from the Massif Central, specifically the region of the Auvergne. They are mountain cows that spend summer up in the estives, the mountain pastures of the Auvergne. As mountain cows they have been bred to perform well on a range of sparse grasses. This means they are not fussy eaters and are reported to have the fastest eating rate of French cows – more nibbles per minute.
If you stand in the herd after you move them to new pasture it is quite an experience. They don’t mess about. Everyone stands and eats. They eat right up to you as though you aren’t there. There is only the noise of munching.
Here in there Gers we don’t have any mountains. Gascony is Club Med for these cows. Plenty of year-round grass and the weather never gets as cold as the Auvergne.
The Auvergne is not a grain-growing region, and as a consequence the Salers cows have always been bred to perform on grass alone. This makes them different from the majority of French cows, like the Limousine, Charolaise and Blonde, which need cereals to properly finish. Salers love grass.
Many people believe that the Salers have some of the oldest genetics of European cows. With the red fur and the long horns they do look old-school. What is important to us is that the genetics of the breed have not been messed with in recent decades to make industrial feedlot cows. These are grass cows, they are healthy and happy on grass and they make incredible beef on grass alone.
The beef from Salers is different to all other French cows. The meat isn’t wet, so when you pan-fry a steak it does not dump a lot of water into the pan. You can properly brown a steak to get the good maillard reaction and the full beef flavour. Try this with your butcher’s meat and you often get pale steamed beef.
The colour of the beef is much redder than butcher or supermarket beef, even when cooked well-done. The animals also marble well, with the most marbling of any French breed.
For us the biggest test was the taste. Beef flavour was something we had missed since we moved to France, and we needed to raise our own cattle on grass to get it back again. Now we have Salers beef available in 10kg boxes and you can be a beef eater again too. Remember beef?
17 thoughts on “Salers Mother Cows”
Big cheers for you both… the only thing I’ve missed since moving from the U.K. to south west France is superb beef (e.g. Aberdeen Angus). my mother’s pre-marital advice to me was nothing about sex/relationships but, “Darling, you’ll have a husband to feed. Find a first-class butcher and learn from him. You’ll know you’ve found a good one when his beef is neither maroon, nor scarlet, but a rich red well-marbled with creamy fat.” Will definitely have to make a trip to find you.
I am so delighted to have stumbled over your website. Coming from an Australian beef farming family, I can totally relate to your findings of beef here in France. I was slowly giving up on buying beef here because the right taste, and marbled texture are nearly impossible to find. But now, all will be different! I can’t wait to sink my teeth into a good steak fed from your grass!
Hello Suzim, Thanks for posting! I will send you some email.
And Suzim, I worked on a sheep/beef farm in NSW out of high school then figured I’d never make enough to buy my own farm and so went to uni instead.
I also just stumbled upon your web site. You have Beautiful cattle and your pastures are Gorgeous! We live in NW Oregon, USA. On our small farm we have chosen to raise American Dexter cattle. Grass-fed their meat too is dark red, well marbled and delicious! We are working on creating and improving pasture for them. Yours are an inspiration.
I hope your winter was mild and spring grass is coming to you soon.
Michael, the winter is mild but long this year. The grass is taking a bit of time to get going. Most farmers still have their cows in but I am seeing a few herds beginning to show their faces outside.
We live in England but travel in France for six weeks each year with our caravan. One of our frustrations is that of finding edible beef. Why, if the French are so keen on cuisine, do they not know about beef? Neither is it easy to find good lamb chops or steaks.
Dear grasspunk, my family has around 30 Salers cows and they are enjoying the pastures in Croatia all year long, they indeed are very special breed, resistant and very productive, we are very happy with them
Hello Maja, part of my family came from Croatia a hundred years ago and migrated to New Zealand!
Facinated by how well these cattle fatten on grass alone. Great for lovers of grass fed meat. Do they take longer to mature?
Are they available anywhere in Australia yet?
Keep up the good work.
Australia does have Salers cattle. Australia also has grass-fed animals from many breeds, like Angus or even their own Murray Grey breed.
Salers do take longer to mature than, say, Angus and also finishing on grass alone takes longer than using cereals.