• 32,000gns sets new UK breed record for a Simmental female sold at auction
  • Five lots, including outfits sell for 10,000gns and more
  • Sale grosses £347,700

Simmental achieved a new 32,000gns female breed record in Stirling on Monday 23 October when David and Lesley Sapsed dispersed their entire noted Heathbrow polled herd following a decision to retire after almost three decades of breeding pedigree Simmental.

Star of the sale at 32,000gns was Heathbrow Natasha, an 18-month-old maiden by the herd’s illustrious Heathbrow Important 17, the multi-title winning show bull, herd sire and European Simmental Bull of the Year in 2019, and she was out of Raceview Emerald Alicia600 EX91 by Milnafua Graduate. A striking, fleshy well-balanced heifer exemplary of the breed, Natasha had already been in the limelight during her short-lived show career having secured the Great Yorkshire Junior Interbreed title and Reserve Breed Champion at Edenbridge, together with a fist full of red tickets. She was knocked down sold to Jimmy and Vikki Wood based at Popes Farm, Dutton, Preston, Lancashire.

The Wood family from the Popes herd with David, Lesley and Brenda and Heathbrow Natasha

Commenting after the sale Jimmy Wood said: “It was actually our daughter Hannah who bought her and will be starting a herd in her own name with Natasha as her foundation female. We first saw Heathbrow Natasha at Herts County Show when she was just a young heifer and immediately saw her potential. We’ve been ‘up close and personal’ to her ever since having shown at many of the same shows through the summer. She’s just kept coming on and we thought she was outstanding at the Great Yorkshire Show. Natasha has everything we would look for in a female. She’s full of femininity with lots of sparkle and presence and is a totally new bloodline with the best of breeding behind her, a real cow maker for the future. It’s a big price tag but it’s a long-term investment and there’s always going to be competition when that quality of heifer and genetics comes to the market.”  

The Wood family took home another four entries. At 9,000gns they secured Heathbrow Melody, an April 2021 born in heifer by Heathbrow Klassik 19, out of Raceview Emerald Alicia and scanned in calf to Blackwood Kirk. Also heading home to join their Popes herd at 7,500gns was the Heathbrow Findlay 14 sired Heathbrow Girlie’s Ivy VG88. An in-calf Heathbrow Girlie’s Freesia EX94 daughter she was a successful member of the Sapsed’s show team.

Heathbrow Melody 9,000gns
Heahthbrow Girlie’s Ivy 7,500gns

The dispersal’s second top call at 14,000gns went to Heathbrow Milky Way VG85, a January 2021 born heifer by Scotland Hill Cairo 11 EX91 and out of Dirnanean Girlie E31 EX93. She was sold with her three-month-old twin heifer calves at foot, Heathbrow Girlie’s Polly and Heathbrow Girlie’s Poppy, sired by Heathbrow Masterpieve 21. The trio went to breed newcomer, Jimmy Hodge, Fellowhills Farm, Horndean, Berwick upon Tweed.

Heathbrow Milky Way 14,000gns

“Milky Way stood out as one of those animals that you wouldn’t want to change, and she is certainly making a good job of her twin heifers,” said former Holstein breeder, Mr Hodge who currently runs 30 pedigree Herefords. “I was so impressed with the quality of the Heathbrow cattle on offer, I thought I would give them a try and invest.”

Making 13,200gns in total was Heathbrow Kitkat’s Treasure VG87, a rising four-year-old Kilbride Farm Newry daughter and out of Darsham Real Treasure EX91, together with her nine-month-old heifer calf, Heathbrow Paradise Treasure by Blackford Kirk 19 EX91. Kitkat’s Treasure who was scanned in calf to Heathbrow Masterpiece was secured for 9,000gns by J A Griffin, Common Lane, Hemingford, Huntingdon, while her calf attracted a 4,200gns from V M Bailey and Sons, Mixbury Hall Farm, Brackley, Northants.

Heathbrow Kitkat’s Treasure 9000gns & Paradise Treasure 4200gns

The same buyers went to 7,600gns for their own pair. Heathbrow Girlie’s Lorna VG87, a February 2021 born heifer by Heathbrow Grand Slam 15 and sold in-calf to Kilbride Farm Morikawa was knocked down for 3,800gns, while the Baileys made an identical 3,800gns bid for her 10-month-pld bull, Heathbrow Napolean 22 by Blackford Kirk 19 EX91.

Heathbrow Girlie’s Lorna 3,800gns & Napoleon 3,800gns

Two entries shared a 10,000gns bid. First to go was Heathbrow Sarah’s Elegance EX94, a Celtic Comet daughter and out of Dirnanean Sarah. This 10-year-old was sold with her July-born bull calf, Heathbrow Polo, by Heathbrow Grand Slam to Mr R J Grenham of Boars Head Farm, Crowborough, East Sussex.

The second 10,000gns call was made by George Scrivens and Holly Grant, Highfield, Shrewley, Warwickshire for Heathbrow Magical Star sold in-calf to Blackford Kirk. A January 2021 born Heathbrow Important 17 daughter, she was out of Heathbrow Ice Star. George commented: “We’d visited the Sapseds four or five times over the last 12 months and rather than coming away with five or six average animals we really wanted a couple of the very best. Magical Star was top of our shopping list. She meant more to us than any other animal in the sale and we’re thrilled to come away with her.”

Heathbrow Magical Star 10,000gns

The couple’s quest to invest in a heifer calf to show next year was achieved when they paid 5,200gns Heathbrow Precious, a six-month-old by Heathbrow Important 17 daughter with her dam, the rising ten-year-old Heathbrow Fancy EX92 who goes back to Dirnanean and Swallowhill lines.

A cow and calf pair attracted the next highest total at 9,700gns. The EX90 classified nine-year-old Heathbrow Fizzy by Dirnanean Welcome and scanned in calf made 3,200gns to Ward Farming, West Mains Farm, Carnwath, Lanarkshire. A 6,500gns bid secured Fizzzy’s eight-month-old bull calf Heathbrow Phoenix 23, by Heathbrow Important 17 for Robert Blyth and Son, Harestonhill Farm, Wishaw, Lanarkshire.

Heathbrow Fizzy 3,200gns

Minutes later, the next heifer and calf unit was sold for a total of 8,400gns. The three-year-old Heathbrow Luxury VG86, by Cairo made 4,200gns to John Tuohy, Coose Farm, Whitegate, Co Galway, while the same 4,200gns price tag went to her 10-month-old bull calf Heathbrow Nautical 22, by Blackford Kirk. The buyer was Speirs Farms Ltd, Pepsal End, Pepperstock, Luton.

Totalling 7,800gns was Heathbrow Kimberley VG88, an April 2019 born Heathbrow Grand Slam daughter sold in calf to Morikawa and her nine-month-old bull Heathbrow Paddy 23 by Heathbrow Important. Kimberley made 3,800gns to Nether Balfour Farms Park, Balvenie House, Drumolk, Banchory while Paddy attracted a 4,000gns bid from Wisson and Son Partnership, Southwood Farm, Abbotsley, St Neots.

Heathbrow Kimberley 3,800gns

Heathbrow Heidi VG88 and her eight-month-old twin bulls by Heathbrow Important 17, went for 7,700gns in total. The seven-year-old Heathbrow Freddie Star 14 daughter sold in calf to Morikawa was bid for 2,500gns to Simon Kemp, Kingston, Canterbury. Heathbrow Pele 23 made 2,400gns to J and M Troup, Southbank Farm, Skene, Aberdeenshire, while his twin Heathbrow Pogba 23 sold for 2,800gns to J C McLaren and Partners, Dargill, Crieiff, Perthshire.

Next pair at 7,500gns was the January 2020 born Heathbrow Lavender VG88 (pictured below) together with her eight-month-old bull calf, Heathbrow Principal 23. Another Important daughter, Lavender was sold scanned in calf to Moriawa and made 5,500gns to Inverdunning Ltd, Inverdunning, Dunning, Perthshire ,while K Thain and Son, Shank, Huntly, Aberdeenshire went to 2,000gns for Principal.

Heathbrow Lavender 5,500gns & Principal 2,000gns

David Sapsed commented after the sale: “We’re both really delighted with the trade  and it was fantastic to see such widespread demand for the Heathbrow cattle.  There were a lot of new entrants and younger breeders buying cattle and we hope their purchases set them off on as enjoyable a pedigree road as we have had. Cattle sold into Scotland, back to England, and with an export trade to both Germany and the Republic of Ireland. 

“Very much the icing on the cake was the fantastic sale of Heathbrow Natasha to the Wood family.  That’s our first female at auction to sell for over 10,000gns and for her to set a new Simmental female record, well it was an unbelievable finale to our pedigree breeding career.  We were so pleased with how the cattle travelled and looked at the sale and huge thanks are extended to Brenda Hide, Rhys Grenham, Richard Rettie and all the team for their hard work. We’ve always tried to breed genuine, long, stylish cattle that have good locomotion, are quiet and a little bit slightly later maturing. Lesley and I would like to thank all of the bidders and buyers on the day and we wish everyone the very best of luck with their new purchases.”  

Averages: seven cows and calves £6,555; 25 cows £3,948; 12 bull calves £3,509; eight heifer calves £3,728; 10 in-calf heifers £5,975; 14 maiden heifers £5,955; two bulls £4,883.

Auctioneers: United Auctions



Following hot on the heels of the Stirling Simmental Bull Sale on Monday October 23rd is the much-anticipated Complete Dispersal Sale of the Heathbrow Polled Simmental Herd of David & Lesley Sapsed, High Heath Farm, Codicote, Hitchin, Herts.

The published catalogue is now out and you can view it by clicking here.

A highly noted herd the Heathbrow Polled Simmental Sale will offer some 90 head and including 30+ cows with calves at foot; 10 in-calf heifers; 14 yearling heifers; and 2 bulls.

In the 28 years of the herd, the Heathbrow object in breeding polled Simmentals has remained the same throughout and with David & Lesley choosing Simmentals because of their milking ability and rapid growth. The main principles of cattle breeding for them are a substantial cow with good locomotion and, importantly, temperament as they jointly look after the cattle.

Keep an eye on Facebook for further updates and profiles as the sale now quickly approaches in October.



• Popes Princess Immie Wins Beef Overall Supreme Interbreed
• Heathbrow Natasha lifts Overall Junior Beef Interbreed
• Heathbrow Nationwide; Heathbrow Natasha; Popes Princess Noor; and Williams Ellie’s Nelly win Overall Junior Interbreed Team

Super Simmentals stole the headlines on day two of the 2023 Great Yorkshire Show at Harrogate as the breed secured a memorable hat-trick of Interbreed title wins. Leading the way was the six-year-old Popes Princess Immie, with her bull calf at foot Popes Premier, from Messrs JH & VG Wood, Popes Farm, Dutton, Preston, Lancs who won this historic show’s Overall Supreme Beef Interbreed Championship in front of the Interbreed judge, Gail Ellis, St Ives Cornwall.

Popes Princess Immie Beef Overall Supreme Interbreed Champion

Sired by Kilbride Farm Comber, Popes Princess Immie is out of the much decorated show cow Popes Princess Cleo who herself secured the herd’s first Overall Supreme Interbreed at the Great Yorkshire Show in 2017 and also as a six-year-old, and with Immie as her calf at foot!

Overall Junior Interbreed Champion Heathbrow Natasha

With rolling Interbreeds through the morning, the Simmental breed had already secured the Overall Junior Interbreed title through the April 2022 born Heathbrow Natasha, the Simmental Junior, & Junior Female Champion from the noted Heathbrow herd of D&L Sapsed, High Heath Farm, Hitchin, Herts. Dominating the juniors, the Simmentals confirmed a fantastic day when winning the Junior Interbreed. The team consisted of the Simmental Male & Junior Male Champion Heathbrow Nationwide from the Sapseds; Heathbrow Natasha, the Simmental Junior, & Junior Female Champion also from the Sapseds; Popes Princess Noor, the Simmental Reserve Junior, and Reserve Junior Female from Messrs JH&VG Wood, Popes Farm, Dutton, Preston, Lancs; and Williams Ellie’s Nelly, who stood third in a strong class behind both the Junior, & Reserve Junior Champions, and exhibited by William Clarke Livestock Ltd, Model Farm, Hevingham, Norwich.

Winning Junior Interbreed team

The summer ‘major’ shows have seen some quality line ups of Simmental cattle and the Great Yorkshire Show carried on this trend and with exhibitors from Norfolk, Hertfordshire, Leicestershire, Lancashire, Buckinghamshire, and Scotland.

Judge Dafydd Jones

On day one on Tuesday 10th July, the rain just about held off for the judging and under the watchful eye of Dafydd Jones of the noted Banwy Simmental herd, Welshpool, Powys. The day’s Champion, Popes Princess Immie, emerged from the first female class of the day, cow or heifer in-calf or with calf at foot, before powering through to take the Female Championship, and the Simmental Overall Supreme Championship. Immie is by the 20,000gns stock bull Kilbride Farm Comber, and has been shown through the summer with her tremendous bull calf at foot, the January born Popes Premier sired by Popes Lethal Weapon. Commenting on his choice of Champion, Dafydd Jones said: “My Champion is a thick, easy fleshing cow with plenty of width. She’s just full of milk and we can see the great job she’s doing of her calf at foot. Full of breed character she’s just a typical modern Simmental mum!” Of his day’s judging and the overall show of Simmentals, Dafydd Jones went on to say: “It’s been an honour and a privilege to judge the Simmental classes at a renowned show like the Great Yorkshire. The classes, particularly the females, were very strong throughout and full of breeding potential. Well done to all of the exhibitors and it was terrific, and well deserved, to see the breed go on to do so well in the Interbreed competitions the next day.”

Strong supporters of the Simmental sections at summer majors over the years, 2023 has proven to be another highly successful year for the Popes team of Jimmy, Vikki, Hannah, and Harry Wood. The win at the Great Yorkshire Show confirmed an outstanding ‘double, double’ with the Popes herd winning the Simmental English National Show and Great Yorkshire Show Overall Simmental Supreme titles in both 2022, and 2023. Both respective Champions, Popes Princess Immie, and Popes Princess Lumi, are out of the multi decorated Popes Princess Cleo. Immie’s Overall Supreme Interbreed title at the Great Yorkshire, and the Reserve Continental Interbreed at the Royal Norfolk has been significant icing on top of another tremendous show summer. Popes Princess Cleo secured the herd’s first Great Yorkshire Show Supreme Interbreed title when winning back in 2017.

Speaking to this further success, Vikki Wood said: “We are just blown away to win both the Simmental Championship and this prestigious Overall Supreme Interbreed. To win against the quality that was in the Simmental lines and then against the best in show just means everything and is very special. It’s a win for a Red Rose herd in the White Rose county, but the Great Yorkshire Show really is one of our favourites and we love coming here.”

Next up for Popes Princess Immie is a trip to the Scottish National Show being held within Dumfries Show on Saturday 5th August, and within an entry of 70 pedigree Simmentals. One not to be missed!

Reserve Overall Champion Brandane Millie

Making his mark this summer is young Simmental breeder Finlay Soutter (17), Yew Tree Farm, Ashby De La Zouch, Leicestershire and who lifted the Reserve Overall Simmental title with his February 2021 born heifer Brandane Millie. Millie is the foundation female in Finlay’s newly established Millennium Simmental pedigree herd, and was bred by well-known breeder and stockman Jimmy McMillan, Bradwell Ash, Bury St Edmunds. With a depth of pedigree Brandane Millie is by the AI bull Sterling Gino 15, and out of the noted Sterling Candy’s FCUK, a female bought at the Sterling Sale. As a young heifer Millie was successfully shown in 2022 by Jimmy McMillan and where she won a number of awards including the Junior Female Championship at the Royal Highland. Coming through a strong class for heifers born in 2021, the Reserve Overall title was a fantastic achievement for Finlay Soutter and or Brandane Millie who the judge Dafydd Jones described as being “an upstanding powerful Simmental heifer again with width, presence and character, and who I have no doubt will go on to make a first quality Simmental cow.”

A high-quality first step in the pedigree path, Brandane Millie was purchased privately by Finlay’s granddad, Doug Mash, Chesham, Bucks and was gifted to Finlay as a birthday present to initiate his Millenium herd. The Reserve title at the Great Yorkshire followed on from the Royal Norfolk and where Finlay, accompanied by Brandane Millie, won the Young Handlers trophy and which he received from William, Prince of Wales. Next step for this Millie will see her head to Llanellwedd Wells and the upcoming Royal Welsh Show.

With the herd dispersing in October this year due to retirement, the summer 2023 show season has been a showcase of the quality that will be on offer at the sale from the noted Heathbrow Simmental herd of David & Lesley Sapsed, High Heath Farm, Hitchin, Herts. The Great Yorkshire Show very much emphasised this with the Heathbrow herd’s roll of honours including: the Overall Junior Interbreed title; two animals in the winning Junior Interbreed team; the Simmental Male Championship; Simmental Junior Championship; the Simmental Pairs; second in the cow class; and second in the Group of Three!

The Junior Interbreed Champion, and Junior Simmental Champion, came in the shape of the classy Heathbrow Natasha. Again, with plenty of breeding behind her Natasha is by Heathbrow Important and is out of the imported Raceview Emerald Alicia600. Heathbrow Important himself won the Overall Interbreed at the Great Yorkshire in 2019 and in the same year won four out of four interbreed titles and was crowned European Simmental of the Year. A herd built around quality female lines, Raceview Emerald Alicia600 is from the noted Kim bloodline, and has been a top breeding family in the Heathbrow herd. Commenting, Dafydd Jones said: “This was a very stylish, balanced and correct heifer, and again who has all the potential to go on to be a super Simmental breeding female.” In one of the strongest classes of the day, Heathbrow Natasha pipped Popes Princess Noor from the Wood family into second place, and William’s Ellie’s Nelly from Andrew & Hayley Clarke, William Clarke Livestock Ltd, Model Farm, Hevingham, Norwich into third. Come the second day these three heifers joined with the Sapseds Male Champion, Heathbrow Nationwide, to make a sparkling team that went on to win the Overall junior Interbreed title and again in front of Gail Ellis, St Ives Cornwall.

With a connectivity in breeding, the April 2022 born ET calf Popes Princess Noor if by the noted Team Celtic and out of Popes Princess Hettie, a Popes Princess Cleo daughter. This heifer, who placed Reserve Overall Junior, won the breed Junior Championship at the Simmental English National Show at the Royal Norfolk. Entirely homebred, the February 2022 born Williams Ellie’s Nelly is by Williams Josef 18, and is out of Williams Beauxbaton’s Ellie. The five-year-old Williams Josef is a Clonagh Diehard Gallant son.

Male Champion Heathbrow Nationwide

The aforementioned Heathbrow Nationwide won both the Male Championship and the Junior Male Championship for the Sapseds. This young February 2022 born bull is the first calf by the herd’s stock bull Blackford Kirk and is out of Heathbrow Girlie’s Ivy. Again with a depth of breeding in the pedigree, Blackford Kirk is a son of the Royal Highland winning bull Blackford Galaxy, whilst Heathbrow Girlie’s Ivy comes from another strong breeding family in the herd and was herself Reserve breed Champion at the 2022 Great Yorkshire Show. The Heathbrow herd comprises of 100 head in total with 40 cows plus followers, and heifers. The much-anticipated Dispersal Sale will take place at United Auctions Stirling Livestock Market on Monday 23rd October and following the autumn Simmental Bull sale on the same day.

Reserve Male Champion Newbiemains Nightrider

Standing second in his class to the Male Champion was Newbiemains Nightrider from Scottish exhibitors Jim and Patricia Goldie, Newbie Mains Farm, Annan. The February 2022 born Nightrider is by Annick Klondyke, and is out of Newbiemains Jetstream, a Newbiemains Golden Eye daughter.

Overall Champion and Reserve
Simmental Pairs winners
Male Champion and Reserve
Junior Interbreed Heathbrow Natasha
Simmental Group of Three from the Wacton Herd of Sam Steggles

Great Yorkshire Show 2023 Judge Mr D Jones, Welshpool, Powys
Results from the Simmental judging on Day One

Bull, born on or after 1 January 2022.
1st Mr & Mrs D & L Sapsed Heathbrow Nationwide
2nd Mr J Goldie Newbiemains Nightrider
3rd Mr P Gunter Fircovert Neptune
4th William Clarke Livestock Ltd Williams Nicholas 22

Cow or Heifer, in calf or with calf at foot, having had a certified calf before attaining the age of 3 years.
1st Messrs JH & VG Wood Popes Princess Immie
2nd Mr & Mrs D & L Sapsed Heathbrow Jasmine
3rd Mr J Goldie Newbiemains Just a Star
4th Mr P Gunther Fircovert Lizbet

Heifer, born in 2021.
1st Mr FS Soutter Brandane Millie
2nd Mr RE & SHW Steggles Denizes Eves Beauty 7th
3rd Messrs JH & VG Wood Popes Trixies Mikala
4th Mr J Goldie Newbiemains My Girl
5th Miss LH Harding Hallway Winnies Majesty
6th Mr RE & SHW Steggles Scotland Hill Ivy Molly
7th Mr & Mrs D & L Sapsed Heathbrow Milky Way
8th Mr RE & SHW Steggles Brandane Mint

Heifer, born in 2022
1st Mr & Mrs D & L Sapsed Heathbrow Natasha
2nd Messrs JH & VG Wood Popes Princess Noor
3rd William Clarke Livestock Ltd Williams Ellies Nelly
4th Mr CA Jackson Future New Girl
5th William Clarke Livestock Ltd Williams Nalha Kat
6th Mr J Goldie Newbiemains Nap
7th Mr P Gunther Fircovert Noel
8th Mr P Gunther Fircovert Nancy

Group of Three animals.
1st Mr RE & SHW Steggles
2nd Mr & Mrs D&L Sapsed
3rd Mr J Goldie

Pair of animals
1st Mr & Mrs D & L Sapsed
2nd Mr RE & SHW Steggles
3rd William Clarke Livestock Ltd
4th Mr J Goldie

Supreme Champion Popes Princess Immie
Reserve Overall Brandane Millie

Male Champion Heathbrow Nationwide
Reserve Male Newbiemains Nightrider

Female Champion Popes Princess Immie
Reserve Female Brandane Millie

Junior Champion Heathbrow Natasha
Reserve Junior Champion Popes Princess Noor



Let’s hear it for Lizzie Harding, Cornerfields Farm, Uxbridge, Bucks, who won the Young Stockperson award at the recent record-breaking Stirling Simmental Sale held in February. A young but long time Simmental enthusiast, Lizzie is heavily involved with the family’s Hallway herd. On a bit of a busman’s holiday at Stirling Lizzie, who is studying veterinary medicine at Nottingham University, was working with the Westridge Simmental bulls of Ward Farms, West Mains Farm, Carnwath, Lanarkshire.

Held at the February and October Stirling Simmental Sales each year, the Young Stockperson award recognises the Young Simmental member who over the three days of the inspection, pre-sale show, and the sale itself, has been judged to have shown enthusiasm, an eye for detail, and an all-round ability in the preparation, handling, and presentation of their Simmental bulls.

Judging the Young Stockperson Award at the February Sale was BSCS Council member Richard Storer Smith who himself runs the Storersmith Simmental herd at Uttoxeter, Staffordshire. Commenting, Richard said: “These high profile bull sales provide fantastic experience for Young Simmental Members both in the skills of looking after and preparing the sale animals, but also in communicating with fellow breeders, potential purchasers, and general promotion of the Simmental breed. Lizzie shows fantastic ability, is just full of bubbly enthusiasm, and was a very worthy winner of this award.” Come sale time and it was a solid sale for the Westridge herd who sold their bulls at 6500gns, and 4800gns x2.

No stranger to Young Simmental events, and general breed shows and sales, Lizzie has been competing in and winning young stockperson awards over some ten years. Lizzie’s abilities and enthusiasm for all things Simmental is backed up by her tremendous in-depth knowledge of pedigrees in the Simmental Herdbook! A big well done is extended to Lizzie and all of the Simmental Young Members at Stirling who promoted the breed so well.



• 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.