Simmental is among the oldest and most widely distributed
of all breeds of cattle in the world. Although the
first herd book was established in the Swiss Canton
of Berne in 1806, there is evidence of large, productive
red and white cattle found much earlier in ecclesiastical
and secular property records of Western Switzerland.
These red and white animals were highly sought because
of their "rapid growth development; outstanding
production of milk, butter, and cheese; and for
their use as draught animals." they were known
for their imposing stature and excellent dairy qualities.
early as 1785, the Swiss Parliament limited exports
because of a shortage of cattle to meet their own
needs. The Swiss "Red and White Spotted Simmental
Cattle Association" was formed in 1890.
Since its origin in Switzerland, the breed has spread
to all six continents. Total numbers are estimated
between 40 and 60 million Simmental cattle world-wide.
More than half of these are in Europe. The spread
was gradual until the late 1960s. Records show that
a few animals were exported to Italy as early as
the 1400s. During the 19th century, Simmental were
distributed through most of Eastern Europe, the
Balkans, and Russia, ultimately reaching South Africa
in 1895. Guatemala imported the first Simmental
into the Western Hemisphere in 1897, with Brazil
following suite in 1918 and Argentina in 1922.
are reports from a variety of sources indicating
that Simmental cattle arrived in the United States
before the turn of the century. Simmental were reported
as early as 1887 in Illinois, according to one source;
in 1895 in New Jersey; and in both New York and
New Mexico around the 1916 to 1920 period. An ad
in an 1896 issue of the Breeder's Gazette, published
in Chicago, also made reference to "Simmenthal"
cattle. However, those early imports did not capture
the attention of the American cattleman and the
Simmental influence died quietly away until the
The breed made its most recent appearance in North
America when a Canadian, named Travers Smith, imported
the famed bull "Parisien" from France
in 1967. Semen was introduced into the United States
that same year, with the first half-blood Simmental
calf born in February of 1968. The American Simmental
Association was formed in October of 1968. Simmental
spread to Great Britain, Ireland, and Norway in
1970 to Sweden and other Northern European countries
shortly thereafter, and New Zealand and Australia
in the early 70's.
The World Simmental Federation was formed in 1974.
In 1976 Simmental cattle were shipped to the Peoples'
Republic of China.
The breed is known by a variety of names, including
"Fleckvieh" in Germany, "PieRouge",
"Montbeliard", and "Abondance"
in France; and "Peseta Rosa" in Italy.
The Simmental name is derived from their original
location, the Simme Valley of Switzerland. In German,
Thal or Tal means valley, thus the name literally
means "Simme Valley".
The amazing growth of Simmental cattle worldwide
is really a reflection of what has already occurred
in most agricultural countries of the world. In
North America the breed has been used extensively
in the national beef herd, so much so that the breed
has taken on new dimensions, to the point that today
the majority of the Simmental herd is either solid
red, or black and polled. It has also been used
in crossbreeding over bos indicus cattle to create
a new breed of cattle, the Simbrah.