National Saler cattle tour features Saline County livestock

Monday, October 3, 2011
R.W. Mitchell (right) talks to Ron Skinner of Hall, Mont. during the 2011 National Saler tour on Oct. 1. The bull in the forefront, Monte, was originally puchased by Mitchell and his family of M&S Salers from Skinner's ranch. About 60 people from across the U.S. were on the tour. It stopped at Lindenhill Farms north of Sedalia, as well as several other Missouri farms.

About 60 ranchers and farmers from across the United States were in the area on Saturday, Oct. 1 for the 2011 National Salers tour.

A Saline County farm, M&S Salers, located in the Houstonia area, had several of their cattle on display during a stop at Lindenhill Farms north of Sedalia.

Lindenhill owners Pete Phillips and his mother, Susan, also had many of their Saler cattle on display.

At left, Russ Mitchell of M&S Salers in Saline County talks to another cattleman during the 2011 National Saler Tour. The tour was north of Sedalia at Lindenhill Farms on Oct. 1. The stop featured cattle from M&S, as well as Lindenhill, which is owned by Pete Phillips and his mother, Susan Phillips.

M&S is owned by Russ and Donna Mitchell; daughters Shelly Bockstetter and Mandy Riley and their families; along with Russ's parents R.W. and Bernadean Mitchell. They have been breeding Salers (pronounced "Sa-lairs") since the early 1980s.

"When my dad was younger, he had Shorthorn, then we had Simmentals and we started getting docked on color, because we had the traditional color," said Mandy Riley. "So we bought our first Saler bull and started cross-breeding." Saler cattle are dark-red or black.

R.W. Mitchell said they liked the calving ease of Salers, adding "we never have to pull any calves." He said he also prefers the dark red color over the black.

This bull, "Monte" was one of the animals from M&S Salers on display during a tour stop of the 2011 National Saler tour featuring Missouri breeders. During the stop, many of the 60 tour participants entered a contest to guess his weight - 2,300 pounds.

"They look really pretty against the green grass," he said, adding they also stay cooler in the hot Missouri summers.

The Mitchells have traveled to other states for the fall tours, held in a different state each year. However, having it in Missouri was a chance to showcase the breed here.

"The tour is kind of to put the word out because there aren't so many Saler breeders in Missouri," said Riley.

Several cows, calves and bulls from M&S Salers and Lindenhill Farms were featured during the 2011 National Saler tour.

Lindenhill owners Pete Phillips and his mother, Susan, who hosted the tour stop, also had many of their Saler cattle on display. At the farm they own about 60 Salers. They also have some Angus cows, which is a better-known breed in the area.

"We got some Angus because a lot of time people will come to your farm to see the Angus and they'll buy the Saler once you get them here," said Susan Phillips. She said at their farm, they also do some cross-breeding between the two breeds.

The national tour also helps Saler breeders get more people involved and socialize with others. It also helps them network with others who may be interested in buying their cattle or semen.

"Several of these people have really good bulls that they have AI semen on so they are looking to see what we have," Riley said.

Besides cows and calves, the Mitchells also had one of their bulls, Monte, on display. He had been purchased over the internet from Ron Skinner of Hall, Mont., who was on the tour.

Skinner Ranch normally sells 150 bulls a year through an internet sale. He said they sell about 100 Saler and 50 Angus bulls, as well as some crossed between the two.

"We have a lot of ranchers out there that want a little hybrid vigor, so we use half and halfs. Some are red, some are black," he said.

Skinner, who normally goes on the annual tour, said he was enjoying his time in Missouri.

"There is lots of grass and lots of cows--that makes a cowboy happy," said Skinner.

Later this fall, the Mitchells, who have about 75 cows at their farm, are planning to have semen collected from Monte.

The national tour began in Kansas City on Sept. 29 and ended there on Sunday, Oct. 2. Most of the participants traveled through the state on a tour bus, although some followed by private vehicle. Those touring came from Montana, South Dakota, Tennessee, Nebraska, Minnesota, Kentucky, Iowa and Kansas, as well as Missouri.

Among the other farms they saw during their Missouri tour were Silver Spur Salers in Maryville, Ecker Farms in Elmo, C&E Salers in Moberly, and Salyers and Sons Salers in Billings Mo. Other stops on the tour was Biozyme in St. Joseph, Wilson Creek Battlefield in Republic and a dinner cruise in Branson.

Contact Marcia Gorrell at