Simmental by Simmental
The Simmental is a cattle breed whose history goes back to the Middle Ages. Early reports suggest that a hybrid between large German cattle and a smaller breed indigenous to Switzerland was the result of Simmental cattle. The name Simmental is derived from the name of the Simme Valley, which is situated in the Berner Oberland in Switzerland, the region where cattle were first raised.
The Simmental designation technically covers many breeds in Europe.
The name is given specifically to the breed in Switzerland, while it is known as Fleckvieh in Germany and Austria, and Pie Rouge in France. Three distinct herd book registries are included in the Pie Rouge, namely Abondance, Montbeliard and Pie Rouge de l’Est.
The breed has spread to all six continents since it originated in Switzerland. The total number of Simmental cattle worldwide is estimated to be between 40 and 60 million, with more than half in Europe. Up until the late 1960s, the worldwide expansion was incremental. Records indicate that as early as the 1400’s, a few animals were shipped to Italy. Simmental was spread in much of Eastern Europe, the Balkans and Russia during the 19th century, finally reaching South Africa in 1895. The first Simmental cattle were introduced into the Western Hemisphere by Guatemala in 1897, with Brazil following in 1918 and Argentina in 1922. They were also shipped to the Republic of China in 1976.
Three characteristics were originally picked in Europe – milk, meat and as draught animals. Today, the demand for working animals is drastically reduced, but muscle and high milk production are still important to Simmental’s success.
Tap here to go to the dairy breeds to learn about Fleckvieh.
The colour of the seed ranges from gold to red and white, and can be scattered evenly or distinctly in patches on a white background. The head is white and, as in the pictures above, a white band also appears around the shoulders. The majority have pigment around the skin, which helps to decrease eye problems caused by bright sunlight.
American Simmentals are coloured differently, as the pictures below are mainly black or red, the lighter shades are referred to as Fleckvieh.
If horned horns are turned up, another distinctive characteristic is that they have a thick dewlap, Simmental may be horned or polled. With cows at around 135-150cm tall and the bulls at 150-160cm tall, they have a wide frame with good muscle. Their weight can vary with their use, but the weight of cows can be about 700-900kgs and 1300kgs of bulls.
Generations of selective breeding have produced a healthy genetic proponent that is highly adaptable, heavily muscled, fine lined, and well conformed, with the goal of optimising milk and beef production at minimal expense. Other qualities of the breed include docility and strong mothering traits.
From rural small-holders to large extensive ranching operations, the breed easily adapts to the most varied conditions.
Simmentals are bred for their high beef yields around the world. However, it enables disparities in focus from mothering ability to beefing qualities in breeding. In order to create a well-fleshed carcass of strong red meat with a minimum of waste fat, the thick muscle, length and total size and weight of the animal are combined.The Simmental has been very effective in crossbreeding. It provides its crossbred progeny with good growth, a large frame, and thus a better beef yield. It increases the consistency and excellent marbling of the meat with white fat. This increases the production of milk, leading to good growth of the calves in suckler herds.
Elevated, long-term fertility
Ease of Calving
Short calving intervals
Outstanding mothering capacity
Strong capacity for grazing
Good rates of growth
Quick to manage
Conversion and Quality of FeedStyle & colour uniformity