Mahogany coat, horns in the shape of a lyre
The Salers are found on the high plateaus of France’s Cantaldépartement, and are a key feature of the landscape. These large, sturdy cows with red coats and lyre-shaped horns are descended from a breed which goes back to the dawn of time (they are depicted in the Lascaux cave paintings) and which has changed little over the centuries. The Salers are hardy creatures and are beloved by farmers, since they do not have to worry about them! Able to withstand the region's harsh winters, the female weighs 700 to 750 kg on average and can cope with significant variations in temperature. And they are not very particular about the kind of fodder they get. They are also very good mothers: they have a high fertility rate and suffer very few calving accidents.
As far as what they are bred for is concerned, Salers are dual-purpose cows which produce both high-quality meat and fat-rich milk. Salers milk is used to produce the famous rich-tasting Salers cheese, as well as a number of other Cantal cheeses. All of these cheeses get an outstanding fat-to-protein ratio of 1:2 from this breed's milk. The reason for this is the fact that Salers can only be milked when their calves are present. The calves trigger the milking process – they start suckling, and then have to stay next to their mother, attached to their front leg, otherwise… Obviously, this method reduces the quantity of milk obtained from a Salers by 200 or 300% compared with other specialist milks… but what flavour, and what high protein levels!
There are currently 300,000 Salers in France. And many others elsewhere – the breed has been exported to more than 25 countries in Europe, North America, Africa and Oceania.
Before Aïda, Star the Prim’Holstein (2009), Volante the Rouge des prés (2008) and Titine la limousine (2007) all enjoyed their time in the media-rural spotlight.