French breeders outbide for promising young Saler

UK - A North Yorkshire farm outbid top French breeders to snap up a promising young Saler bull.
calendar icon 24 May 2002
clock icon 3 minute read
Fifteen-month-old Sagitaire is now residing at Middleton-on-Leven near Yarm, home to the noted Rigel pedigree herd of Salers.

Partners Terence and Jane Pye and Malcolm and Gill Pye bought him from a bull testing station in the face of strong competition from leading French breeders.

He was bought as a replacement for their highly successful bull, Crocodile Dundee, who produced many champions in the UK and elsewhere.

Sadly and totally unexpectedly, Dundee died just a few days before Sagitaire arrived. He was 15.

His dam was the famous Sierra, who holds the record for winning the Paris show championship six times and who lived to be 21, producing 15 calves.

His grandsire, Songeur, also sired Slammer, who was exported to the USA and played a key role in establishing the breed there.

Crocodile Dundee was the top bull from the Saler bull test station and had been bought to be exported to Australia. However, he was en route via the UK in 1988 when BSE struck and he was prevented from travelling, so he was bought by the Pyes.

Although he was never shown, he sired many champions in the UK and elsewhere, including the Pyes' own Rigel Duncan, breed champion at Newark and Notts and reserve champion at the Great Yorkshire in 1998, and retained in the herd.

Dundee also sired Rigel Francisco, who was reserve champion at the Newark and Notts in 1999 and was sold to Mr John Ryder of Guisborough.

His daughters also proved outstanding and produced a number of champions, particularly when bred to the Pyes' original winning bull, Bruno.

They included Rigel Cordelia, who won seven major championships in a row in 1996-97, including the Royal, the Royal Highland, the Great Yorkshire and the interbreed at the Royal Lancashire.

Crocodile Dundee sired the 10,000 guinea bull, Cumbria Flip which is still the breed record price.

The Pyes were obviously upset to lose him but have high hopes for Sagitaire, who was bred by Michel Tafenal.

He is still settling in at Levens Field but will be shown in the junior bull section at the Great Yorkshire Show before joining the females on the farm.

The farm operates a pedigree and commercial enterprise. There are 240 head of cattle in total, including a 110-suckler cow enterprise with followers.

The pedigree Saler herd produces stock bulls and breeding females which are sold to farmers all over the UK.

A commercial Saler herd is put to Charolais to produce top quality stores which are all sold through Stokesley mart.

The farm also runs a small pedigree Charolais herd to produce a more extreme type of Charolais suited to Saler cows, and a business that is the main source of Saler semen to the UK.

Jane and Gill run the farm enterprise and are pleased at their success. When they first introduced the breed to the area about eight years ago they were greeted with some scepticism. However the qualities of the breed and the Pyes' fine breeding policies have led to keen demand and interest.

The Saler is second only to the Charolais when it comes to fast growth rates, combined with extreme ease of calving - it has the largest pelvic area of all major beef breeds - and a short gestation period of 279 to 283 days.

The breed is also said to have excellent length and conformation, strong legs and feet, tight udder and noted foraging ability and hardiness - in Scotland they are out-wintered

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