Simmental cattle get their name from the Simme Valley in Switzerland – the area where they were first bred. Today, the dual purpose Simmental is one of the most popular breeds in the world. In Germany and Austria it is known as Fleckvieh and in France as Pie Rouge.
Total numbers of Simmental cattle are estimated to be around the 50 million mark. The highest concentrations can be found in Europe, but this is an animal that is successfully used on 6 continents. Interestingly, the worldwide spread didn’t really occur in any great number until the late 1960s and Simmental cattle were only shipped to China in the 1970s.
Simmental are renowned as a fantastic dual purpose breed. Muscularity and high milk production are important features of their popularity. Simmental cattle can be crossed successfully with any other breed.
The Simmental can vary in colour from chestnut/gold to red with white. (American Simmentals are often predominately black or red.) They have a short, soft coat with white markings on the head and belly. Simmental cattle can be horned or polled.
They have a large frame and good muscling. Cows reach up to 900 kilos in weight, mature bulls around 1,300 kilos.
The breed is known for its good temperament and they are easy to handle. Selective breeding has focused on maximising milk and beef production at the minimum of cost. Growth rates are excellent and daily live weight gains of 2kg a day are achievable. Cows are very maternal and able to rear their young on milk and not concentrates. Cows can produce 7 – 11 kg of milk each day.
Simmental cattle are renowned for their high beef yields. The carcass is heavier yet leaner than many other European breeds. The good quality meat has little waste fat.
The Simmental has proved very successful in crossbreeding. They can improve milk yield and the quality of meat. Little wonder that this genuine dual purpose breed is so popular.