The breed originated in the Simme Valley of Switzerland during the 18th century, and the first Herd Book was established in 1806. The breed has since developed along specific lines throughout Europe, the United Kingdom, the Soviet Union, South Africa, the Americas and Australasia. Known by local names in Europe such as Pie Rouge (France) and Fleckvieh (Germany), the ‘simmental’ breeds may be fullblood or upgraded purebred Simmentals. They vary in type according to the demands of the local environment and market requirements.
World Simmental Federation statistics put the number of Simmental cattle worldwide at over 40 million head, making them second only to Zebu in worldwide numbers.
Importation of semen into Australia commenced in April 1972 with both German and Swiss strains. In later years many Simmentals were imported through New Zealand and this, together with access to semen from North America, has expanded the gene pool.
The breed has rapidly increased in number since the early imports and is now well established in most parts of Australia in areas as diverse as the Kimberleys and Tasmania. There are over 70 000 registered Simmentals in addition to the thousands of Simmental-infused commercial cattle.
Simmentals vary from yellowish brown to straw colour to dark red, with white markings on the head, brisket, belly and legs. They often have red pigmentation around the eyes, and white patches on the body, especially behind the shoulders and on the flanks. Ideally the hair is soft and short. The breed is naturally horned although breeders are producing polled Australian purebred cattle.
Simmentals are well-muscled animals, being long and deep-bodied with strong bone. They have good temperament and high milk production.
Simmental carcases are significantly heavier and leaner than other European breeds, with little waste, and they give a higher yield of saleable meat.
The breed is ideal for crossbreeding, particularly with Herefords, giving even lines of red and white cattle which can be selected to suit a range of markets.
For further information, Simmental Australia at:
c/- ABRI, University of New England
Armidale NSW 2351
Ph: (02) 6773 3341
Fax: (02) 6772 5376
The author thanks Simmental Australia for their help in preparing this Agfact.