The Key Attributes of Irish Simmental are:
- Maternal Abilities – Replacement heifers/cows must have enough milk to rear their calves to full potential and Simmental is the breed whose background guarantees milk supply.
- Growth Rate – Simmental being a Continental breed that is very strong on growth rate ensures that offspring will mature early, well ahead of any 30-month deadlines.
- Ease of Calving – Simmental has the reputation as being a very easy calving Continental breed, an attribute that is now more important than ever due to the increased number of part time farmers involved in suckling.
- Docility – Having cattle that are easily handled and not excitable, adds to improved herd performance, an objective that is easily achieved by using Simmental.
- Muscularity – Today’s Simmental bull is well muscled. This is evident by the increase in demand for Simmental weanling bull calves for finishing.
Simmental were first imported into Ireland in 1971 by very discerning cattle breeders seeing a key role for the breed due to its high beefing qualities.
This first importation of live animals came from Austria and was later followed by importations form Switzerland, Germany, France and UK. Embryos and semen has also been imported from Canada, USA and Demark. This has resulted in the Irish Simmental population being very diverse. Irish Simmental breeders have focused on the beefing traits of the breed while ensuring that adequate milk supply is not lost.
The breed has grown steadily in Ireland since its introduction driven by demand from commercial farmers and a desire by pedigree breeders to move the breed forward. Now there are on average 2,500 pedigree registrations per year. The strong trade for commercial replacements has resulted in only the very top end of pedigree females being registered and retained for pedigree breeding.
This has resulted in the Irish Simmental having very good shape while still retaining the maternal qualities to leave the breed as one of the most after commercial dams. The role of the Simmental dam in the present National suckler herd is clearly visible with demand for quality Simmental heifer’s far outweighing supply. The popularity of the Simmental can clearly be attributed to her ability to calf any breed, having enough milk to maximise the performance of that calf. When high fertility and docility are added, it leaves Simmental in a very strong position within the National Herd.
Irish Simmental has been exported to the UK, Canada and the USA in the past. Recently there has been a strong interest from the countries of origin (Austria & Switzerland) as well as Denmark for semen from Irish bred bulls. It is the beefing qualities that are attracting this interest with many countries now seeing Ireland as an ideal source for Beef Simmental.
New Euro Star Index
The Irish cattle Breeding Federation are now publishing all indexes in the form of Star Index both within and across breed. This has resulted in the Simmental Breed coming to the fore as the most profitable BEEF breed. Simmental is the most consistent breed across all traits.