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Simmental is an influential breed of cattle whose history dates back to the Middle Ages. Early records indicate that Simmental cattle were the result of a cross between large German cattle and a smaller breed indigenous to Switzerland. The name Simmental is derived from the name of the area where the cattle were first bred - the Simme Valley.

Technically, the Simmental designation includes several breeds in Europe. The name is given specifically to the breed in Switzerland, while in Germany and Austria it is known as Fleckvieh, and in France as Pie Rouge. The Pie Rouge includes three separate herd book registries namely Abondance, Montbeliard and Pie Rouge de l'Est. In Canada the breed is known as Simmental.

Parisien, the first Simmental bull brought into Canada, was imported in 1967. By 1969 the Canadian Simmental Association was incorporated under the Livestock Pedigree Act. Excellent performance in production of milk and beef, plus exceptional adaptability to a variety of environmental influences has led the Simmental breed to world-wide popularity and distribution. There are approximately 35 million head of Simmental in Europe, where they are most popular. Export to a number of other countries has resulted in an excellent representation on all five continents. Simmental breeders in a variety of countries have achieved favorable results in the crossing of Simmental with British and continental breeds. In sub-tropical areas, crossing with the indigenous breeds (eg. Brahman, Zebu) has resulted in calves exhibiting a great deal of hybrid vigor with an excellent rate of gain and an ability to withstand environmental pressure.

Generations of selective breeding, with the objective of maximizing milk and beef production at minimum cost, have created a well-balanced hereditary proponent that is highly adaptable, heavily muscled, fine lined, and well conformed. Docility and exceptional mothering traits are other outstanding characteristics of the breed. Color varies from gold to red with white, and may be evenly distributed or clearly defined in patches on a white background. The head is white and often a white band appears over the shoulders. The majority have pigment around the eyes, helping to reduce eye problems which occur from bright sunlight.

The heavy muscling, extraordinary length and overall size and weight of the animal are combined to produce a well fleshed carcass of solid red meat with a minimum of waste fat. In meat production, Simmental are more than competitive with all other breeds, as their body length gives a higher percentage of choice cuts.

To assist cattlemen in selecting bulls that fit their needs, the Canadian Simmental Association has developed the beef cattle industry's most comprehensive Expected Progeny Difference (EPD) system. This system enables buyers to identify traits such as easy calving and low birth weight; weaning and yearling growth performances; and maternal traits such as milk, calving ease, and weaning weight.

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