The roots of Simmental cattle can be traced as far back as the Middle Ages. Early sources suggest that breed emerged when cattlemen crossed indigenous Swiss stock with large German cattle. The breed is named after the Simme Valley- the area where the breed was initially developed. This title is used to refer to stock in Switzerland, the term ‘Fleckvieh' is used in Germany and Austria, and in France, the name ‘Pie Rouge' is applied.
Simmental cattle have spread to every continent in the world. Italy received imports as early as the 1400's. It wasn't until the 19th century that the breed became firmly established throughout Eastern Europe. By 1895, the breed had been introduced in South Africa and two years later, the breed spread to the Western Hemisphere for the first time when it arrived in Guatemala. Early in the 20th century, Simmental cattle reached Brazil and Argentina. China received stock in 1976.
Simmental cattle have large frames. Their coat colour ranges from gold to red with white markings, commonly found on their heads, belly and shoulders. Their eyes are protected by pigmentation, greatly reducing the risk of eye cancer. Both horned and polled strains exist. Mature bulls typically weigh around 1300 kilograms, while mature cows generally weigh between 700 and 900 kilograms.
In the early days, Simmental were bred as a triple-purpose breed. Today, draft animals are somewhat obsolete, however Simmental cattle are still greatly valued for their beef and dairy production. They are known for their well-muscled conformation, efficient feed conversion, rapid weight gain, good mothering traits, early maturity, brief calving intervals and adaptability. Their carcase is known for its heavy muscling, high yield, red meat and minimal waste fat. Simmental cattle are popular candidates in cross-breeding programs that aim to improve beefing qualities in a herd. Simmental crosses will also enhance milking abilities, which ideal in suckler herds.
Simmental cattle were first introduced into Australia in 1972 when semen from Germany and Switzerland were brought to the country. In later years, North American strains have also been introduced. Now, Simmental cattle are found in most areas throughout the country.
Today, Simmental cattle are distributed throughout the world. After Brahman cattle, they boast the second largest worldwide population. The World Simmental Federation estimates that there are more than 40 million Simmental cattle distributed around the world. Different lines have developed in different parts of the world, some are full blood, while others are upgraded purebreds. Of course, different environments and markets have seen the emergence of different types.
Simmental Australia provide a range of value and services to its members and commencial breeders across Australia.
As the name suggests, Black Simmental cattle are distinguished by their coat colour, which can be either black or grey. They share all the desirable qualities of the Simmental breed. They are the product of crossing Simmental stock with black/grey breeds including Angus, Friesian and Murray Grey.
Black Simmentals are mostly polled. They are ideal for cross-breeding programs that aim to affect colour and polling, enhance weight gain, improve carcase yield, and increase fertility.