It was a day to remember for young Simmental breeder Finlay Soutter (17), Yew Tree Farm, Ashby De La Zouch, Leicestershire who carried all before him to win the Royal Norfolk’s prestigious Young Handler competition on the second day of the show on Thursday 29th June. Presenting the trophy to Finlay, in front of a truly packed ring side crowd was William, Prince of Wales!
Throughout the competition Finlay was parading the classy heifer Brandane Millie who is the foundation female in his newly established Millennium Simmental pedigree herd, and who was bred by well-known breeder and stockman Jimmy McMillan, Bradwell Ash, Bury St Edmunds.
Against a huge entry of Young Handlers across all breeds in the show, Finlay was required to parade Millie around the ring then walk her up to the judge where he was asked various questions on how she had been prepared for the class, what feeding she was on, and general questions about Millie herself just to test general knowledge. Thereafter he was placed into the lineup and was further judged on how Millie was stood and presented, and Finlay’s ability to settle her.
Of winning the competition and having Prince William present the trophy to him, Finlay said: “First of all it’s a great honour to have won the Champion Young Handler award. I have won young handlers’ Championships before but never at a Royal Show. To do that and have the trophy presented by Prince William is just really special and a memory I’ll never forget.”
“Prince William was so easy to talk to. He asked me how old Brandane Millie was and also about the Simmental breed. He also asked if I had shown at the Royal Norfolk Show before and why Brandane Millie was so special,” Finlay continued.
February 2021 born, Brandane Millie is full of breeding being sired by the AI bull Sterling Gino 15, and out of the noted Sterling Candy’s FCUK, a female bought at the Sterling Sale. Last year as a young heifer Brandane Millie was successfully shown by Jimmy McMillan and picked up a hatful of awards including the Junior Female Championship at the Royal Highland.
Picking up the story, Finlay went on to say: “Millie was purchased privately by my grandad (Doug Mash, Chesham, Bucks) and was gifted to me as a birthday present. It was a great boost to start my own herd of pedigree cattle with such a great heifer. I greatly admire Millie as she has style, shape and muscle, with femininity to complement, and has incredible blood lines. This year I plan on showing her at the Great Yorkshire, and the Royal Welsh as they are two shows I’ve never exhibited at.”
Beyond the upcoming shows Finlay has clear aims for the future and said: “Ambition for my newly established Millennium Simmental herd is for it to slowly expand to more females, and hopefully to attend show and sales with their progeny. The main focus will be on obtaining and breeding quality foundation female lines. I like the Simmental breed as they’re known for their maternal traits, producing plenty milk and having a great temperament. I think these qualities make them ideal females for the future in both pedigree herds and commercial breeding.”
Commenting, the British Simmental Cattle Society General Manager Iain Kerr said: “On behalf of all members, the Society warmly congratulates Finlay on this fantastic personal achievement, and outstanding promotion of the Simmental breed. Across all of the many young handlers taking part it was great to see both the enthusiasm and ability on show.”
• Homozygous polled bulls sell to 5800gns, and 5500gns • Eight bulls average £4699, up by £703 on the year • Midhope lead the females at 4200gns
The British Simmental Cattle Society’s annual show and sale at McCartney’s Worcester Livestock Market on Saturday 29th April, saw a top price of 5800gns attained by first time exhibitor John Gosmore, Newton House Farm, Tattenhall for his September 2021 born bull Newton House Moneymaker.
Polled genetics were again to the fore and in demand with Newton House Moneymaker being a homozygous polled bull by Kilbride Farm Hans 16 (PP). His dam, Lissadell Luxury VIP (P), was bought in October 2020 at the Premier Sale in Roscommon for 8000 Euros. With a combination of breeding, polled genetics, and good performance figures, Newton House Moneymaker was sold to commercial producer Messrs Gowling, Little Oxendon Farm, Market Harborough, Leicestershire. The Gowlings, who run Simmental cross cows, were attracted by the polled genetics, the milk within the Simmental breed, and will use the bull to breed female replacements.
Commenting afterwards John Gosmore said: “We were delighted to achieve the day’s top price at what was our first Society Sale. Newton House Moneymaker was just a very correct bull with a nice head and character. He walks well and has a very good temperament. There’s an interest in polled Simmental genetics, and we trust that this bull goes on to do well for the Gowlings.” Newton House Moneymaker was shown on the day by Paul Mullarkey of Lissadell Simmentals and who had come over from the Republic of Ireland to help the Gosmores.
In all, eight Simmental bulls were sold on the day to average £4699 which was up by £703 on the year, and with three bulls at 5500gns and more.
Another first-time exhibitor was Wayne Mosley, Thorncliff, Chelmorton, Derbyshire who sold Thorncliff Monty for the joint second top price of 5500gns. Earlier in the day, and capping a fine debut for the Thorncliff herd, this May 2021 born bull had been placed Overall Supreme Champion in the pre-sale show and in front of the judge Dafydd Jones who runs a 250 cow Simmental based commercial suckler herd, along with the Tywi pedigree herd, at Danycapel, Dryslwyn, Carmarthen. Thorncliff Monty, a twin to a male, is by the AI sire Woodhall Ferrari and is out of Higherem Hayley, a Banwy Wonderboy. At the fall of the hammer, the day’s Champion was purchased HJ Marklove, Hansells Farm, Purton, Swindon. Commenting, the judge Dafydd Jones said: “My choice of Champion was in my opinion a modern type of Simmental bull. He’s a smart, clean bull, not too heavy through the front, is very well muscled, and has good locomotion. I’ve no doubt he’ll breed good carcase animals in addition to the typical Simmental maternal traits.”
Also at the 5500gns mark was another homozygous polled bull in the shape of Blue Cedar Majestic 21 (PP) from Nigel Darling, Intwood Farm, Norwich. Fully homebred, this March 2021 born bull is by Blue Cedar Kelso 19 (PP), a Sneumgaard Imperator (PP) son, and out of Blue Cedar Wendy 2nd (PP), a Celtic Comet (P) daughter. At the fall of the hammer this bull was purchased by Ian King who runs the Pinkmead pedigree herd at Curbridge, Southampton. Speaking after the sale breeder Nigel Darling said: “We’re seeing a good interest in homozygous polled genetics and this bull also had good performance figures for calving ease and growth. This sale comes on the back of Melton where we sold another homozygous polled bull and who was sired by Imperator.”
With over forty cows and calves to sell in the herd’s Reduction Sale following the bull sale, it was a busy but successful day for the Wroxall herd of CH Evans & Son, Kington Grange Farm, Claverdon, Warwickshire who made 4500gns when selling Wroxall Milky Bar Kid 21 for 4500gns. August 2021 born, this calf is by the heterozygous polled bull Coose Gambler, and is out of Wroxall Hartpury, a Wroxall Electric (P) daughter. With a calving ease figure in the top 10% of the breed, this bull was purchased by Richard Bell, for the 300-cow Bowley Herd of CM Mercer, Bowley Court Farms, Hope-Under-Dinmore, Leominster, Herefordshire, and who run up to 12 Simmental bulls.
Selling at 4200gns was Key Marvel 21 from Messrs GD Key & Sons, Abbey Farm, Loddon, Norwich. This August 2021 born bull is by Islavale Jupiter, and is out of Innerwick Genesis, a Castlegale Titan daughter. Key Marvel was knocked down to CR Bayliss, Moorend Farm, Weston Beggard, Herefordshire.
In the small show of females the top price of 4200gns went to regular Worcester consignor Mr WJ Hollingsworth, Midhope Hall Farm, Sheffield, for his Reserve Female Champion, Midhope Megan. This January born heifer, scanned two months in calf to Strathisla Mandarin, is by Delfur Chas 11, and is out of the Woodhall Everhart daughter, Midhope Indigo. Buying the top price female was Mr S & Mrs D Shapland, for their Brynsworthy pedigree herd at Brynsworthy Farm, Barnstaple, Devon.
Top price in export sale to the Coose herd, Republic of Ireland
Cows and calves sell to length and breadth of the UK
The genuine reduction of the noted Wroxall Simmental herd of CH Evans & Son, Kington Grange Farm, Claverdon, Warwickshire saw a more than solid trade throughout gross just over £120,000 for the 32 cows forward with calves at foot, along with five cows in calf, and three in-calf heifers.
Leading the way at a combined 6000gns was the homozygous polled Wroxall Iona Zilla at 1800gns and with her stylish heifer calf Wroxall NII-Zilla at 4200gns. This unit was snapped up by the noted Coose herd of John Tuohy, Whitegate, Co Galway, Republic of Ireland. Wroxall Iona Zilla PP is February 2017 born and is by Losning Iver (P) and is out of Wroxall Daisy-Zilla. PD’d in calf to Forsdale Gallipoli, Wroxall NII-Zilla (P), is her fourth calf. This September 2022 born heifer is by Wroxall Jerome 18.
The Wroxall Sale came about due to the end of the family’s tenancy at Abbey Farm, Kenilworth after more than some ninety years, and the consolidation of the herd at its new new home at Claverdon. Founded in 1969 the Wroxall Simmental herd was based around initial importations from Switzerland. Increasingly the herd has concentrated on the polling gene and as such the sale at Worcester offered functional, working cattle with a high health status, and a catalogue packed with a great selection of modern-day Simmental, and polled genetics. A packed ringside, and buyers online and on the telephone, ensured a strong trade with exports sales and animals selling to all corners of the UK. Some 40 lots, mainly pedigree Simmental cows with Simmental, and Blue calves at foot, grossed over a very healthy £120,000.
Selling at a combined 4600gns was another homozygous polled female Wroxall Jazz Superior PP, and with her third calf, the heifer calf Wroxall Nautical-Superior (P) at foot. January 2018 born, Wroxall Jazz Superior is by Wroxall Electric (P), and is out of Wroxall Gertrude-Superior (P). PD’d in calf to Coose Gambler, Wroxall Jazz Superior made 2900gns when selling to the north of Scotland and R&N Barclay, Harestone Farm, Insch, Aberdeenshire. Her September born heifer calf Wroxall Nautical-Superior, sired by Forsdale Gallipoli, made 2700gns when also purchased by the Barclays.
Wroxall Jessica Lilly (P), sold with her heifer calf at foot Wroxall Nilly-Lilly (P), made a combined 3500gns. March 2018 born, Jessica Lilly is sired by Wroxall Cocker-Leeky-Soup (PP), and is out of Wroxall Forget Me Not-Lilly. PD’d in calf to Wroxall Maxi Power, she was bought for 2300 by AD Heath for the Eaton pedigree herd at Eaton House, Market Drayton, Shropshire. The September 2022 born Wroxall Nilly-Lilly (P), sired by Wroxall Cocker-Leeky-Soup then made 1200gns when selling to Paul Rowden, Simboro House, Totnes, Devon.
Also at the 3500gns mark was the first calved heifer Wroxall Janie Patience (P), who was sold with her January 2023 born heifer calf Wroxall Pamela (P) at foot. Wroxall Janie Patience (P) is by Wroxall Electirc 13 (P), and out of Wroxall Gabriella-Patiance (P) was sold PD’d in-calf to Wroxall Maxi Power. Her calf at foot, Wroxall Pamela (P), was sired by Coose Gambler. This outfit was another to be snapped up by R&N Barclay, Harestone Farm, Insch, Aberdeenshire.
The averages in the Wroxall sale were as follows:
12 cows with autumn born calves £3537 18 cows with spring born calves £2867.08 5 Cows-in-calf £2310 3 In-calf heifers £2800 2 Unregistered cows with calves at foot £3035
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.
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.
Renowned for its milk and maternal traits, backed up with growth rates and age at slaughter, the modern Simmental has a distinct British signature with the breed showing its adaptability to all geographies and systems around the UK. Here we have the latest Simmental market briefs with Simmentals consistently featuring at the top end of some 21 markets in what is a strong cattle trade for all classes.
Simmental is a no-nonsense beef breed! Easy to look after, efficient, flexible, giving you added value, and with a hard-working ethos that gets the job done!
20 MIXBURY HALL SIMMENTAL STEERS AVERAGE £1272 (Pictured) Vernon & Jon Bailey, Mixbury Hall sold their annual consignment of pure Simmental steers 10-12 months old at Thame on 10th February. 20 steers sold to £1290.00, £1285 and £1270, and to average £1272. The steers topped the trade in price for age by some distance.
Gisburn’s sale of prime cattle on 9th February saw trade up a gear and young bulls selling to a high of £2075 for a 607kg Simmental from JE Bracken.
On 9th February at Darlington Gary Christie sold the 17-month-old Rockytop Milton as a prime bull. Weighing in at 854kg he sold for £2,245.56 (276ppk), to feature amongst the leading prices. Frome’s sale of prime cattle on 8th February saw a demand for heifers with shape and finish. Top gross price UTM heifer at £1655 was a Simmental x from RMJ & AL Robinson.
At H&H’s sale of weaned cattle at Borderway Mart, Carlisle on 8th February, ‘you have to see it to believe it’ was the auctioneers comment on the trade. Simmentals led the breed averages for young bulls at £1133.75 and with a top of £1480 from Sloan, Stockbridgehill.
At Stirling on 8th February, United Auctions sold 1096 store cattle, young bulls and 165 out of spec cattle, cast cows and bulls, 4 Breeding cattle & 43 Rearing cattle. Heifers (389) – averaged 268.08p and to £1830 for a 700kg SIMX from Greenshields. Young Bulls (61) averaged 256.73p and to £1380 for a SIMX from Hole O Clean. OTM bulls were topped by a Sim from Springfield at £2020.
‘Can this trade get any dearer’? was the question asked by Melton Mowbray auctioneers at their sale of stores & breeding cattle (156) on 8th February. Top in the breeders went to S & E Dow with in-calf Simmental X heifers at £1620 with others to £1570 and £1500.
At Bentham on 8th February a busy ringside of both travelled and local buyers descended on Bentham ensuring that all classes were in strong demand and met a fantastic trade throughout. Strong feeding cattle generally £1550-£1700 with other notable prices including £1750 to regular vendors P & JM Wilson with Simmentals.
Market Drayton’s sale of store cattle on 8th February saw a ‘serious trade in front of a ring full of hungry buyers’! Right at the top end of prices, a 538kg Simmental from H Kelsall & Son made £1,490.00.
The sale at Dungannon Farmers Mart on 8th February saw in-calf cows sold to £1660 for a 2016 born Simm presented by D Scott.
At H&H’s sale of store cattle at Lockerbie on 7th February, trade was ‘up, up, & up”! The heifer trade was led at £1350 by a Simmental from Maxwellbank. In the steers, Simmentals from Messrs Rae, Muirhead, made 301.4p.
SIMMENTALS TOP RECORD BREAKING SALE AT BAKEWELL MARKET • Simmental cow to a new market record high of £2459.20 ‘Ripping up the record books’ was how auctioneers Bagshaws described the commercial cattle sale at Bakewell Market, Derbyshire, on February 6th and with Simmentals leading the way. ‘Every cow today was beyond all expectations’ was the quote, with a Simmental cow from David Donnelly, Hulland Ward setting a record price when selling at £2459.20. A 734kg Simmental cow also topped the pence per kilos when Harold & Brian Ponsonby, Tidswell Moor, sold a four year old Sim to 244p/kg. OTM Bulls were also topped by a Simmental and to £1930 for an entry from Thorp Farms, Baslow. Young bulls were a strong trade and a 780kg Simmental from S&D Fearn, Wardlaw Mires made £1996.80 or 256p/kg. 280 steers averaged £1019 and Simmentals featured at the top end of prices with DC&ME Andrews, Flash realising £1620 for a Sim X.
At Quoybrae on 6th February, Aberdeen and Northern Marts sold 257 Store & Breeding Cattle. The small sale of breeding cattle sold to £1280 for a Simmental Cross from Elzy Farm, Staxigoe. At Whitland Marts sale on 4th February, barren cows and overage saw a strong trade with tested cows selling to a top of £1,610 for a Sim from Blaeneifed Farms Ltd, Llangoedmor also sold Simms to £1,280 & £1,230.
At Sedgemoor’s store sale on 4th February, heifers topped at £1600 for a red Simmental from GB Tuttiett, who sold more at £1450 and £1350. More Simmentals £1240 x2 The Clarence Herd, Shillingford.
Aberdeen and Northern Marts on Friday 3rd February 2023 sold 952 Store Cattle, Young Bulls and Young and Weaned Calves, at Thainstone. Bullocks up to 300kg sold to £910 or 329.7p for a SimX from Craggan View. Bullocks 701-750kg sold to a top of £1900 and 269.1p for a SimX from Feaval, with a SimX from Essil at £1,820. Heifers up to 300kg were led by Craggan View with a SimX at £980, and bulls up to 350kg were topped by Cuttlehill with a Sim at £870. Bullocks 301-350kg sold to a top of 318.8p for a SimX from Cuttlehill (SimX). Heifers up to 300kg were topped by Craggan View with a SimX at 331.1p. On the same day and a sale of store cattle on behalf of Orkney consignors, bullocks sold to a top of £1,900 gross for a pair of 706kg Simmentals from J & J Fraser.
At Thirsk Market’s weekly Primestock Sale on 2nd February, the best grossing steer was £2243.58 for a Simmental X from Chester & Dale, Helperby purchased by J Penny & Sons, Rawdon.
On 1st February at Dumfries Livestock Mart’s Primestock Sale, the beef cows comprised of predominantly feeding cows to ave 178.4p/kg to 215p/kg and £1795. Simmentals from Newbie Mains topped at £1795.25 per head, and to 215p.
Market Drayton’s sale of 279 store cattle on 1st February saw Simmentals lead the way at £1,570.00 and 550kg from Mr C.H. Forrester. Further Simmentals from the same home made £1,560.00 at 570kg.
SIMMENTAL HEIFER SETS MARKET RECORD AT FROME! Frome’s prime cattle sale on 1st February saw heavy Simmental heifers to £1971 from E M Horn & Son and which the auctioneers believe is a new market record for a commercial heifer! Charlie Butcher had a fantastic consignment with Simmentals trading to 246.5p/kg, 245.5p/kg (twice), 245.5p/kg and 238.5p/kg or £1606.
At Melton Mowbray’s sale of Prime Cows, Stock Bulls & OTM Cattle on 1st February trade was described as ‘simply ballistic’! Top grossing cows included Chandler & Dickman selling Simmentals to £1859.44.
At Dungannon Farmers Mart on 1st February, a good entry of dropped calves sold to a height of £380 for a Fleckvieh bull calf presented by F Collins.
On 1st February at Skipton, Simmentals had the joint top average of £1252 for store heifers which was £44 above the continental breeds average, and £245 above the native breeds average. Simmental store heifer prices included: £1350 JF&C Saunders; £1290 £1190 Brian Kaye; £1270 Williamson Bros.
At Ayr on 31st January Craig Wilson Ltd had a sale of prime and cast cattle and where bulls sold to a top of £1800 including a Simmental from Dalfask.
On 30th January at Lanark, Lawrie and Symington Ltd had forward 111 cattle comprising of 32 bullocks and heifers, 79 cast cows. Beef cows sold to £2080 per head for a Simmental from Messrs Taylor, Heatheryhall Farm, Lanark.
On 30th January, Penrith & District Farmers’ Mart LLP held their fortnightly sale of 251 Store Cattle. Strong cattle were presented to an eager ringside of buyers. Topping the sale at £2,055 was a cracking Simmental X bullock from Messrs A & S Robley, Nelson Hill Farm, purchased by Mr D Barker. The same home sold other Sim bullocks to £1925, and £1875.
Gisburn’s sale of breeding cattle on 28th January saw in-calf heifers top at £1320 for a Simmental from S Pepper.
At Aberdeen & Northern Marts sale of cattle from Shetland Consignors on 27th January, store cattle bullocks sold to £1,045 gross and 281p per kg for 372kg Simmentals from A & D Hunter, Scatsta, Brae. Heifers Sold to £860 gross and 266p per kg for 324kg Simmentals also from Scatsta. At a sale of store cattle on the same day from Orkney consignors, bullocks 401-450kg were led by Maesquoy with a Sim to £1,290 and 290.5p.
On sale day at Lancaster Auction Mart on 27th January, another strong entry of 120 cull cows sold to an exceptionally fast trade with an overall market average of 184p/kg. Heavy well fleshed beef cows sold to 264p/kg for a Simmental from C & AJ Woodhouse, Millom who sold others at 249.5p/kg. Aberdeen & Northern Marts on 26th January held a sale on behalf of Orkney consignors. Beef Cows sold to £1,890 gross and 236.8p per kg for a 798 kg Simmental from T & G Ritch, Kastal, Langskaill, Birsay.
Messrs Craig Wilson Ltd sold 611 Store Cattle at their sale in Ayr on 26th January. All classes sold firm again with 335 Bullocks averaging 260.8p or £1198.12. Top Price of the day was £1800 for a Simmental bullock off Ravenslie.
At Stirling on 25th January, United Auctions sold 1140 store cattle, young bulls and 222 out of spec cattle, cast cows and bulls. Young Bulls averaged 258.02p to 287.20p for a SIMX from Philiphaugh. Out of Spec Cattle sold to £1550 for a SIMX from Mount Lothian. OTM Bulls topped at £2610 for a Sim from Balbuthie.
Dungannon Farmers Mart on 25th January saw fat cows sell to a height of £1420 for a Fleckvieh presented by a Dungannon producer.
• 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.