Simmental bulls and cows originated in a period of history when cattle served many functions. These cattle have maintained diverse purposes throughout their growth and adaptations as a species, making Simmental cattle in the modern age a popular choice for livestock farmers. They are strong milkers, calve easily and serve well as beef cattle. This breed accounts for a large percentage of cattle in many European countries, including Switzerland, Germany and Austria.
The origins of Simmental cattle lead back to the Simme Valley in Switzerland. Simmentals were first introduced to the United States in the 1800s, but they did not experience much population growth until their reintroduction in the 1960s. The World Simmental Association was formed in 1974, and the American Simmental Association shortly thereafter. Since the time of its origin, this breed has spread to six continents of the world, with estimated worldwide numbers of between 40 and 60 million animals.
The Simmental breed is known by many names depending upon location. The name “Simmental” stems from the Simme Valley in Switzerland where the breed originated. The breed is dubbed “Fleckvieh” in Germany, Austria and some parts of Switzerland. Italians call these cattle “Pezzata Rossa,” while in France they may be known as “Abondance,” “Pie Rouge” or “Montbeliard.” Simmental cattle with differing names around the globe differ slightly in characteristics, including milk production and beef quality.
The original coloring for the Simmental breed was red or gold and white. However, all colors and patterns are accepted by the American Simmental Association. Most Simmentals are spotted, with white on the face and lower legs. Simmentals are known for their large size and strong bones. Mature bulls typically weigh between 2,200 and 2,800 pounds. They have long, straight top lines and a muscled back and loin.
Purpose of Bulls
As with any breed, Simmental bulls are most useful for their contribution to the continuation of the species. Simmental cows are above average milkers and easy calvers. Cows and bulls of this species are docile and produce a high carcass yield, making them prime slaughter animals. Simmental beef is tender and naturally lean. Simmental bulls are often crossed with other cattle breeds, as they are excellent cross-breeders. The most common cross for Simmentals is with Angus cattle.