It’s great to report that 2023 was a busy and successful year for the East Anglian Simmental group. With member numbers continuing to increase, and being at a record high, it is definitely a club that is thriving. With a great mix of youth and experience hopefully this will continue into the future.

It has been another fantastic year for animals from across the region with herds from the club supporting several shows and sales this year.

Judge John Barlow with Sally Liverton, Simon Key and Champion Bull Hollybrook Maximum and Key Marvel at the Melton Mowbray Multi-breed Pedigree Sale.

The first significant achievement was at the Melton Mowbray multi-breed Show and Sale. We are proud to say that four herds from our club made the trip to support the sale and it was Hollybrook Maximum from Chris and Zara Curson who claimed breed champion, with Key Marvel from Simon Key taking reserve champion. Hollybrook Maximum also went on to claim reserve interbreed champion and sold for the top price of 3,900gns. Although with only a small selection of Simmental’s on offer at this fledgling show and sale we hope that with such success we will see a growth in numbers in years to come.

Hemingford Nelson

The biggest success goes to our new club members James and Rachel Griffin of the Hemingford Herd with their March 2022 born bull Hemingford Nelson. Not only did he claim first place in his class at Stirling in October, he went on to secure Reserve Senior champion and sold to the renowned Auchorachan herd for 11,000gns. We want to say a massive congratulations to James and Rachel and hope your success continues in the coming year.

Moving into the show season and our very own Simon Key kicked had the huge privilege of judging at the Royal Highland Show. What an honour it was for him to judge at such a prestigious show, and we at the club are very proud of him.

Again members from the East Anglian region were very successful at both nationwide and local shows with breeders bringing home rosettes and sashes from near and far.

Sam Steggles of the Wacton Herd with Denizes Eve’s Beauty & Holly Lutkin with Fircovert Neptune, Taking first place with the pairs at the Suffolk show.

The Suffolk show saw the return of the Wacton herd to the show circuit, and it was Denizes Eve’s Beauty 7th bred by the Barlow family who claimed breed champion for Sam Steggles, with Heathbrow Jasmine taking reserve breed champion for D.A and L.A Sapsed. Sam and his team went on to do well this season at further shows and also claimed the Imex Plate at the English National show.

This year would turn out to be David and Lesley Sapsed’s last year on the show circuit after numerous years of supporting the agricultural shows. In a career that has seen them take many titles and also interbreed titles, they will be a big miss at future shows and we wish them all the best in the future.

Royal Norfolk

Without doubt the highlight of the year was hosting the Simmental English National at the Royal Norfolk show. The show was supported and attended brilliantly and with fantastic numbers of almost 60 Simmental’s entered, the competition in many classes was fierce. Club secretary Zara Curson said it was an absolute honour to be a part of the organising team for this event and with the help of others, it was never in doubt that the show would be successful. We would like to again thank our judge John Moore of the Omorga herd, and our generous sponsors, exhibitors and those who travelled from all over the U.K to help make the show a roaring success.

Our overall champion went to the Woods family for Popes Princess Immie. Sterling Celia’s Fifi jointly owned by Paul & Sharrie Cade, Jimmy McMillan and Simon Key won overall reserve champion. Popes also lifted the Junior Championship with Popes Princess Noor with Cade Nugget claiming Reserve Junior Champion.

Cade Nugget owned by Chris & Zara Curson was shown by up and coming young handler Erin Cade who’s family bred Nugget. Erin at only 14 years of age halter broke the February 2022 born bull so it only seemed right that she put him through his paces at the English National, and they didn’t disappoint with them not only taking Male Champion but also Continental Interbreed Champion too.

On the second day of the show it was the young handlers who took centre stage and with a good turnout it was great to see the breed is in good hands for the future. A massive congratulations to everyone who was involved but in particular to Finlay Soutter who went on to win the prestigious Overall Championship for young handlers and was presented with his prize by William, the Prince of Wales!!

With the national show heading back to the Norfolk show again this year we will be looking to make it bigger and better for 2024!!

The Aylsham show concluded the showing season in East Anglia and it was Theberton Joanne who took champion for Mr and Mrs L. J. Dowley, with reserve going to Fircovert Lizbet, from Paul & Linda Gunther.

The Great Yorkshire show didn’t disappoint for Paul & Linda Gunther, Andrew & Hayley Clarke and Sam Steggles making the trip north and all placing well within their classes. Andrew & Hayley also featured in the winning Junior Interbreed Group!

Young handler Bella Markham at the Suffolk Show

Cade Simmental’s made the trip this year to the Agri Expo in Carlisle in October and their 2022 born heifer Cade Fifi’s Nala, placed 3rd in her class and with 2023 born Cade Kathleen’s Prada, 4th in her class. The Cades very much held their own against some very stiff competition in large classes. Also daughter Erin came 3rd in her young handlers class with Bella Markham claiming 1st in her young handlers class.

Young handler Erin CadeContinental Champio
Young Handler Chloe Cade at The Suffolk Show

It has been fantastic to see so many breeders from our region supporting shows and sales across the country and returning home with such tremendous results. It shows that we are producing some great quality cattle in our area.

In September we had our annual herd competition take place with Phillida Hurn judging from the noted Twyford herd. With herds continuing to increase and therefore the time taken to organise and carry this out, our extended thanks and gratitude go to Phillida and her stockman Paul Monaghan, who accompanied her, for taking the time to judge. Phillida was very complimentary about the standard of cattle and had a very difficult job to decide the placing’s in the various categories.

East Anglian Club’s herd walk & herd competition results event was very well attended and hosted by the Brice family

At the start of the year our aim as a club was to do a herd visit as this hadn’t happened in a while so in November we organised a farm visit to our Rendham herd which was well attended. It was great to have a catch up whilst walking amongst the cattle and hearing what people thought. The visit also coincided with Phillida announcing the herd competition results and doing the presentations.

Herd Competition Judge Phillida Hurn presenting rosettes at the Herd competition results day

We rounded off the year with our annual Christmas dinner which was well attended by members, and we now look forward to what the New Year has in store for our club.

East Anglia herd competition results 2023 are below.

Best Bull Calf
1. Rendham Poacher
2. Hollybrook Paxton
3. Guiltcross Proudlock

Yearling Bull
1. Brandane Nutcracker
2. Rendham Neptune
3. Cade Nugget (Hollybrook)

Stock Bull
1. Blackford Galaxy (Key)
2. Saltire Jaguar (Hemingford)
3. Wolfstar Jumanji (Rendham)

Wolfstar Jumanji

Best heifer calf
1. Rendham Pixie
2. Therberton Purple
3. Hollybrook Pandora

Group of yearling Heifers
1. Hemingford heifers
2. Rendham heifers
3. Cade heifers

Best 2Yr Old Heifer
1. Therberton Mouse
2. Key Heifer
3. Guiltcross Mable

Group of 2Yr Old Heifer
1. Fircovert heifers
2. Rendham heifers
3. Cade heifers

Cow and calf
1. Rendham Lucky & Pixie
2. Therberton Forget me Not & her Bull calf
3. Thursford Tina & Hollybrook Pandora

Family Group
1. Iris Family (Therberton)
2. Thursford Tina Family (Hollybrook)
3. Honeysuckle Family (Fircovert)

Jimmy MacMillan & Marcus Searle with Brandane Kirsty & bull calf Brandane Nutcracker who won Supreme Champion at the Edenbridge & Oxted Show.

Overall Herd.
Rendham Herd

Judges Choice: Brandane Kirsty and her bull calf Brandane Nutcracker



  • Sterling Celia’s Fifi wins Overall Reserve Supreme
  • Cursons take the Male Championship with Cade Nugget
  • Popes Princess Noor lifts the Overall Junior Championship
  • Wacton herd wins most points across the show classes
  • Cade Nugget wins Male Continental Interbreed
  • Finlay Soutter wins Royal Norfolk Young Handlers Championship

The high-quality Simmental summer road show moved to the Royal Norfolk which provided the platform for the 2023 Simmental English National Show held on Wednesday 28th June.  Close on sixty pedigree Simmentals put on a super breed spectacle in front of the judge John Moore of the highly noted Omorga herd, Omagh, Co Tyrone.  After some strong competition across the classes it was the six-year-old cow Popes Princess Immie, with her bull calf at foot Popes Premier, who took the Overall Supreme Championship title, and Champion Female title, for Jimmy & Vikki Wood, Popes Farm, Preston, Lancashire.  

Popes Princess Immie

For the Popes herd of some 50 cows and followers, and which is synonymous with producing quality Simmental females and bulls from high end cow families, this was a remarkable two in a row, and three out of the previous four, Overall Supreme Championships at the breed’s English National Shows!  There’s clearly something in the Norfolk air that brings the best out of Popes Princess Immie as she won her class as a heifer in 2019 at the last English National held at the Royal Norfolk, and in what was her only previous show outing other than being shown as a calf at foot in Interbreed winning teams with her mum in 2017!  Full of breeding Popes Princess Immie is by the 20,000gns stock bull Kilbride Farm Comber who the Woods say is ‘really stamping some quality females through the herd’ and is out of the noted Popes Princess Cleo EX95. This highly decorated show cow in her own right was also the dam of last year’s English National Show Champion, Popes Princess Lumi, and the dam of Popes Princess Hettie, the mother of the 2023 Junior Champion at the English National Show, Popes Princess Noor.  For good measure, Popes Princess Immie’s cracking bull calf at foot, the January born Popes Premier by Popes Lethal Weapon, went on to win the prize for the Best Simmental Calf at Foot.

Commenting at the close of the judging, John Moore said: “Popes Princess Immie is just a very modern Simmental cow.  She’s a super easy fleshing female with a lovely second thigh, is full of milk, and is a working Simmental mum rearing a really good calf at foot.  Across the classes there’s been a terrific show of Simmentals, particularly the females, and the standard is a great credit to all of the exhibitors who I warmly congratulate.”    

Speaking to this further Championship win, Jimmy & Vikki Wood said: “It’s really fantastic, and a great honour, to win the Simmental English National Show.  A lot of hard work and dedication goes into the cattle by all in the Popes team and days like this continue to make it all so worthwhile.  There have been some tremendous Simmental cattle on show this summer and today very much continued that trend.  The local breeders in the East Anglian area are producing some great cattle and the quality of Simmental stock across the show was of a really high standard.  We’ll continue to be very loyal to both the Simmental breed and to the English National Show as we feel it’s a terrific shop window.”

The aforementioned Popes Princess Noor cemented another top day for the Popes Herd when she won the Overall Junior, and Junior Female Championships.   With a connectivity in breeding, this April 2022 born ET calf is by the noted Team Celtic and out of Popes Princess Hettie making her a full sister to the 2022 Champion Popes Princess Lumi, and a half sister to this year’s Champion. Again, this was a first show outing for this stylish young heifer.

Popes Princess Noor

Lifting the Reserve Overall Supreme, and the Female Overall Reserve, was the senior cow Sterling Celia’s Fifi who is ‘multiply owned’ by the Cade herd of Paul & Sharrie Cade, Paddock Farm, Buckden; the Brandane herd of Jimmy McMillan, Bradwell Ash, Bury St Edmunds; and the Key herd of GD Key & Sons, Loddon, Norwich. It was very much a high powered ‘shoot out’ in the classes as this nine-year-old cow, shown with her February heifer calf Cades Fifi’s Patience, placed second to the Supreme Champion in the class and followed her all the way through to the Overall Reserve.  Sterling Celia’s Fifi, bred by Boddington Estates, by Sterling Cotswold, and out of Sterling Delores Celia, is a past winner of the English National Show having lifted the title in 2017 as a calved heifer at the Three Counties Show.  Later that same year she was sold for 22,000gns, a then albeit briefly held Simmental female record, at the Boddington Estate Herd Dispersal Sale and to Harte Farms, Republic of Ireland. Roll on to 2021 and the animal in herself allied to the know depth of breeding and performance, saw the consortium put together buy Sterling Celia’s Fifi for 6200 Euros at the Harte’s online Dispersal Sale.

Sterling Celia’s Fifi

It was a major show debut to remember for local breeders Chris & Zara Curson of the Hollybrook herd, based some ten minutes from the showground, at Hollybrook Farm, Dereham, who lifted the Overall Male Championship, and Junior Male Championship with their February 2022 born bull Cade Nugget.  Purchased privately in March this year from Paul & Sharrie Cade, Paddock Farm, Buckden, this bull is by Sacombe Jameson, and out of Brandane Kathleen, a Blackford Hurricane daughter.   On the day the bull was shown by the Cade’s daughter Erin who was also the person who originally halter trained Nugget!  On the second day of the show, and drawing an emotional tear or two from the exhibitors, Cade Nugget was tapped out as the show’s Interbreed Male Continental Champion by the judge Mary Cormack. Commenting firstly on the purchase of the bull Chris Curson said: “We first saw the bull in January this year before buying him in March.  I liked the breeding behind him with Sterling Gino and the bull in himself is just very correct with great lines, he’s good on his plates, walks well and just carries a bit of style.  He’ll be used on both our 20-cow-pedigree herd and also in the 40 cow suckler herd which is predominantly Simmental based.”    More generally on their fantastic showing debut, Chris went on to say: “Living just ten minutes away this is a show I grew up with and have been to over many years.  To now meet with this success is truly amazing and just a tremendous honour.  With the English National on our doorstep we really wanted to support the show.  There’s some great Simmental cattle in this area as we’ve seen today from a number of breeders and the show was really competitive but in such a friendly environment amongst supportive exhibitors.”

Cade Nugget

Following the Male Champion through from his class to take the Reserve Overall Male, and Reserve Junior Male, was the February 2022 born Grangewood Nobel from the Leedham team of Andrew & Yvonne, and their son Callum, from Rowan Farm, Pickering, North Yorkshire.   This calf is by Ranfurly Impeccable and is out of Grangewood Polly’s Girl from the herd’s noted Grangewood Polly female line.  Later in the day, the Leedhams met with further success when winning the Best Pair bred by exhibitor.  Grangewood Nobel teamed up to win this section with the second prize heifer Grangewood Tollie’s Millie.  This September 2021 born heifer is also by Ranfurly Impeccable and is out of Grangewood Tollie’s Iris, a daughter of Grangewood Glenlivet who had bred to price sale bulls for the herd. Rounding off a cracking day for the herd, Grangewood Tollie’s Natasha took the red rosette in the strong second heifer class of the day. January 2022 born this heifer is again By Ranfurly Impeccable and is out of Grangewood Tollie’s Hope, an Omorga Volvo daughter.

Grangewood Nobel
Grangewood Tollie’s Natasha

Back in the females and taking the Senior Heifer title was Denizes Eve’s Beauty 7th from the Wacton herd of another local breeder RE & SHW Steggles,  Fieldings, Honingham, Norfolk.  This heifer purchased for 8000gns at the Next Generation II Simmental Sale at Carlisle in December 2022 from breeders MA Barlow & Son, Ulnes, Nr Leyland, Lancashire, is full of breeding with both parents being Royal Highland Show Champions.  Denizes Eve’s Beauty is by Blackford Galaxy and is out of the herd’s famous Auroch Eve.  Arriving at Norfolk with a little show record behind her, Denizes Eve’s Beauty 7th had previously been Breed Champion at the recent Royal Suffolk Show and where she also featured in the winning Simmental Interbreed Pair.  The Wacton herd was originally established in the early 1970’s by Russell Steggles one of the breed’s pioneering importers, before being sold in the mid 1980s. A mini revival by Russell’s grandson Sam saw the herd last show at the Royal Norfolk some 25 years ago.  Roll on to the present and the family Steggles in the shape of Sam, and his wife Caroline, and children William and Polly have their sights on fully re-establishing the herd and with ambitions to grow it from its present seventeen head to some 50 cows built upon cornerstone females with proven quality bloodlines.   The 2023 Simmental English National Show proved to be a hugely successful one with the Wacton herd perhaps most noticeably winning the award, the Imex Plate, for the breeder and herd winning the award for the most points in the classes.  Four first prizes, a second, and a third, went a long way to securing that, and accompanied by a host of titles for pairs, groups, and exhibitor bred in a remarkable day!  Speaking afterwards Sam Steggles said: “Norfolk is our home show and we could just about walk the cows here.  With it being combined with the English National Show, and to meet with the success we’ve had, has been a truly mind blowing experience and is now a very high bar to exceed.  To win the ‘most points’ award with the esteemed breeders and enthusiasts that were here is amazing and an emotional phone call has been shared with my grandmother!      

Denizes Eve’s Beauty 7th

A huge shout out also to young breeder Finlay Soutter whose outstanding heifer Brandane Millie stood second in another high-quality class to Denizes Eve’s Beauty 7th.  On the second day young Finlay swept all before him when he won the prestigious Overall Championship for Young Handlers and was presented with his prize by William, Prince of Wales!  Please look out for a further post on this fantastic achievement!

Full list of show results to follow….

Overall Championship
Male Championship
Junior Champion

Heifer, born on or after 1 April 2022

1 – J H & V G Wood – Popes Princess Noor

2 – D A & L A Sapsed – Heathbrow Natasha

3 – J H & V G Wood – Popes Nellys Neva

4 – Thomas Hill – Scotland Hill Francesca Nesta

5 – R J Grenham – Boars Head Karina 12th

Heifer, born on or between 1 January and 31 March 2022

1 – A S & Y A Leedham – Grangewood Tollie’s Natasha

2 – P A & S M Cade – Cade Fauna’s Nina

3 – P Gunther – Fircovert Nancy

4 – Mrs H Clarke – Williams Ellie’s Nelly

Heifer, born on or between 1 August and 31 December 2021

1 – R E & S H W Steggles – Scotland Hill Wisteria Miss Echo

2 – A S & Y A Leedham – Grangewood Tollie’s Millie

3 – Mr & Mr L J Dowley – Theberton Morning Glory

Scotland Hill Wisteria Miss Echo

Heifer, born on or between 1 April and 31 July 2021

1 – Mr & Mrs L J Dowley – Theberton Mouse

2 – R E & S H W Steggles – Brandane Mint

3 – R E & S H W Steggles – Scotland Hill Ivy Molly

4 – R Grenham – Boars Head Karina 10th

5 – P Gunther – Fircovert Melanie

Theberton Mouse

Heifer, born on or between 1 January and 31 March 2021

1 – R E & S H W Steggles – Denizes Eve’s Beauty 7th

2 – Finlay Soutter – Brandane Millie

3 – J H & V G Wood – Popes Trixies Mikala

4 – James Griffin – Hemingford Madonna

5 – D A & LA Sapsed – Heathbrow Milky Way

Cow or Heifer, born in 2020 in-milk with calf at foot or certified in calf and due to calve before 3 years of age

1 – P Gunther – Fircovert Lizbet

Fircovert Lizbet

Cow, born in 2018 or 2019 in-milk or certified in calf at the time of the Show

1 – J McMillan – Brandane Kirsty

2 – D A & L A Sapsed – Heathbrow Jasmine

3 – Mr & Mrs L J Dowley – Theberton Joanne

Brandane Kirsty

Cow, born before 1 January 2018 in-milk or certified in calf at the time of the Show

1 – J H & V G Wood – Popes Princess Immie

2 – P A & S M Cade – Sterling Celia’s Fifi

3 – Mr & Mrs L J Dowley – Theberton Iris

Bull, born on or after 1 April 2022

1 – T Hill – Scotland Hill Napolen

2 – G D Key & Sons – Key Nicholas

3 – Mrs H Clarke – Williams Nicholas

4 – Miss K McCaig – St Trinians Noddie

Scotland Hill Napolen

Bull, born or between 1 January and 31 March 2022

1 – Chris Curson – Cade Nugget

2 – A S & Y A Leedham – Grangewood Nobel

3 – Mr P Gunther – Fircovert Neptune

4 – D A & L A Sapsed – Heathbrow Nationwide

Pair of Animals of either sex entered in the above classes, the property of the same exhibitor

1 – R E & S H W Steggles

2 – A S & Y A Leedham

Group of Three – The best group of three to be owned or bred by the exhibitor

1 – A S & Y A Leedham – Grangwood Tollie’s Millie, Grangewood Tollie’s Natasha & Grangewood Nobel

2 – D A & L A Sapsed – Heathbrow Nancy, Heathbrow Nationwide & Heathbrow Nadia

Group of Four – The best group of four to be owned or bred by the exhibitor

1 – R E & S H W Steggles

2 – D A & L A Sapsed

Female Champion

J H & V G Wood – Popes Princess Immie

Reserve Female Champion

P A & S M Cade – Sterling Celia’s Fifi

Junior Female Champion

J H & V G Wood – Popes Princess Noor

Reserve Junior Female Champion

A S & Y A Leedham – Grangewood Tollie’s Natasha

Champion Bull

Chris Curson – Cade Nugget

Reserve Champion Bull

A S & Y A Leedham – Grangewood Nobel

Junior Champion

J H & V G Wood – Popes Princess Noor

Reserve Junior Champion

Chris Curson – Cade Nugget

Senior Heifer Champion

R E & S H W Steggles – Denizes Eve’s Beauty 7th

Overall Champion

J H & V G Wood – Popes Princess Immie

Reserve Overall Champion

P A & S M Cade – Sterling Celia’s Fifi



  • Hollybrook Maximum Takes the Reserve Interbreed

The April 2021 born Hollybrook Maximum from Chris & Zara Curson, Hollybrook Farm, Welbourne, Dereham, Norfolk sold for 3900gns to top the small section of Simmentals at the fledgling Melton Mowbray Multi Breed Sale on Saturday, 25th March.

Hollybrook Maximum, Overall Reserve Interbreed, Overall Simmental Champion and Top price of £3,900gns

Earlier in the day this bull had been placed as the Simmental Overall Champion by the judge, John Barlow of the noted Denizes herd, before going on to lift the Overall Reserve Interbreed in front of all seven of the breed judges.  Commenting, John Barlow said:  “This is just a natural Simmental bull with plenty of length and a good second thigh.  He’s a good commercial Simmental bull ready to work.”  Hollybrook Maximum, got by AI, is sired by Clonagh Diehard Gallant, and is out of Williams Vikki’s Blossom.    Purchasing the Champion online, and one of two bought on the day, was the significant Simmental based commercial enterprise in the shape of Fristling Hall Farm, Swan Lane, Ingatestone, Essex.  Melton Mowbray represented only the second Society sale for the Cursons who run a 20-cow pedigree herd alongside a 60 cow Simmental based suckler herd.

Selling at 3200gns was the homozygous polled bull Blue Cedar Mungo from Nigel Darling, Intwood Farm, Intwood, Norwich.  This January 2021 born bull is by the Danish bred AI sire Sneumgaard Imperator, and is out of Blue Cedar Edwina, with both parents being homozygous polled.  With both calving ease, and gestation length figures in the top 1% of the breed, Blue Cedar Mungo was purchased by H Catlin, Leylandii Farm, Boston, Lincolnshire.

Selling two bulls at 3000gns was CH Evans & Son, Kington Grange Farm, Claverdon, Warwickshire.  The first of these was the red ticket winner Wroxall Marmite.  Heterozygous Polled, this January 2021 born bull is by Forsdale Gallipoli, and is out of Wroxall Esprit-Zilla.  Arriving with a show track record that had seen him win breed championships at the Three Counties and Staffordshire Shows respectively in 2022, Wroxall Marmite was another bull to be snapped up by Fristling Hall Farm, Essex.  Following directly on was the March 2021 born Wroxall Meatball.  This March 2021 born calf, who stood second in his class to the Champion, is by Coose Gambler (P), and is out of Wroxall Favour-Patiance (P).  With Calving Ease figures of +3.6 placing him in the top 15% of the breed, Wroxall Marmite was purchased by GT Hall & Son, Dudley Wood Farm, Atherstone, Warwickshire.

Champion, Hollybrook Maximum and Reserve Champion, Key Marvel with Judge John Barlow


4 Bulls                  £3438.75  



• 36.23% of buyers changed to Simmental from a different breed of bull in previous five years
A fantastic ninety four percent of Simmental bull buyers have confirmed that they will purchase further Simmental bulls at future Society sales. That’s the strong endorsement of the Simmental breed following a snapshot survey of bull buyers at Society Sales held between 2017 and 2019.

The survey saw buyers through these years being sent a detailed questionnaire covering the initial reasons for purchasing a Simmental, and thereafter how satisfied they have been with the abilities and the performance of their bulls to date. A broad range of questions invited respondents to score and comment on the performance of bulls bought, including: calving ease; temperament of the bulls and their progeny; fertility and serving capacity; longevity and physical condition of the bull; and performance of progeny, including growth rates and perceived food conversion. Further questions asked buyers about the most important traits when buying a Simmental; the principle purpose of the bull; use on heifers; the importance of herd health information, pre-sale inspections, performance figures, and pre-sale fertility testing.

Unsurprisingly maternal traits featured highly in the characteristics of the Simmental breed most attractive to buyers, including: mothering ability and easy calving; milk; producing replacement heifers; and fast-growing progeny. The top characteristic for buyers was temperament and this was emphasised later in the survey with a total of 97.18% saying that the temperament of their bulls was good (88.73%), or average (8.45%), and with 92.53% saying that the temperament of the progeny was very good or good. Across these two categories less than 5% of purchasers responded that the bulls or their progeny had been below average for temperament.

Just over 70% of buyers indicated that performance figures and EBVs were a ‘quite’ or ‘very’ important aid when purchasing a bull. Of the traits, EBVs for calving ease were ranked the most important and with Maternal (Milk), a close second. The Simmental breed has taken a lead in many aspects of herd health at sales over the years, and the importance of this is shown in the survey with a total of 98.59% of respondents saying that it was ‘very important’ (83.10%), or ‘important’ (15.49%), for them to purchase bulls from herds with a high health status. Over 90% of buyers placed importance on bulls having passed through a pre-sale inspection with 57.34% saying it was ‘very’ important.

Interestingly, and perhaps indicative of some strong Simmental sales, 36.23% of buyers said that they had changed from a different breed of bull in the previous five years, and predominantly from other continental breeds. 53.62% of buyers run over five Simmental bulls with a further 40.58% indicating that they had one to five Simmental bulls. The makeup of buyers’ farms shows that 60% of the bulls have gone to hill farms, and with 40% to lowland. The bulls are used on mainly suckler herds (93.25%), with the dominant breed of suckler cows being Simmental/Simmental X, followed by Limousin/Limousin X; Angus/Angus X; and Luing/Luing X. The largest percentage of buyers run 31 to 100 cows (41.43%); with 37.14% having 101 to 200; and just over 21% having over 200.

The working abilities of the breed are again highlighted with 94.12% of buyers saying that they were happy with the physical and structural condition of the bulls bought, and with over 85% of the bulls still working in purchasers’ herds. In an anticipated strength of the breed, just over 92% of buyers said that they retained heifer calves as herd replacements. 42.86% of buyers said that they used bulls on heifers, and of those, 44.12%, aiming to calve the heifers at 28 months and under.

In another strong endorsement of the performance and commercial attributes of the Simmental breed, a remarkable 89.65% of those surveyed said the progeny of their bulls had been of the standard they expected (81.03%), or better than expected (8.62%), and 10.34% saying that the progeny had been average. No respondents replied that progeny from their bulls had been below expectations.

At the conclusion of the survey buyers were asked for ‘any other comments’, and again these were a combination of extremely positive, constructive, and insightful points. A number of comments remarked on what they saw as the ‘big strides’ in ongoing improvement in the Simmental breed over the last ten years. A further similar sentiment was that if the breed maintains and improves its strengths in milk, easy calving, docility, and good locomotion, ‘Simmental bulls will sell themselves’ in the forward industry. Breeders were given some ‘signals’ for forward sales to not overfeed bulls, and the importance of feet, good legs and mobility. Herd health, the versatility of Simmentals on all breeds, the importance of good growth rates, and food conversion from grass were also noted. Producing ‘bulls that make good cows’ was also a sentiment with a clear overall emphasis on the desire for Simmentals many recognised maternal strengths.

Commenting on the survey BSCS General manager Iain Kerr said: “It’s really important for the Society to engage with Simmental buyers to find out how satisfied they have been with their purchases, and to feedback their thoughts to breeders. The Simmental breed is renowned for breeding quality heifer replacements and for being first class suckler cows with plenty of milk, good fertility, easily calved and crossing to advantage with any other breed. We also see Simmental progeny being easy fleshing, with good growth rates, top weights for age, and being the industry leader for age at slaughter. To have these qualities recognised and endorsed by the breeds buyers, with an approval/repeat customer rate of 94%, is really encouraging. A massive well done is extended to pedigree Simmental breeders for these results and for consistently bringing forward a high standard of bulls. There is an ongoing commitment from the breeders and Society, in the sum of all its parts, to keep working hard to consistently produce the choice and quality of bulls that commercial beef producers and pedigree breeders require.”

The survey results have been released in the run up to the next round of pedigree Simmental Sales with sale fixtures at Stirling on February 20th; Aberdeen on 1st March; Dungannon on 24th March; and Melton Mowbray on 25th March.