The Italian Simmental

Consistency The Italian Simmental belongs to the group of breeds which are part of the EUROPEAN SIMMENTAL population...


The Italian Simmental belongs to the group of breeds which are part of the EUROPEAN SIMMENTAL population, which is numerically second in the world only to the Fresian. The main reason for it being so widespread is that it represents a secure investment for the farmer, since it has good milk production from both a quantity and especially quality point of view, it is particularly suitable for the production of the most well-known cheeses and, at the same time, offers an appreciable added value with the sale of its meat.
It is also adaptable to the most difficult and hard farming and breeding conditions, which makes this cattle easy to manage for the farmer. The number of cows shown in the table below does not include the cattle belonging to the Beef line.

Year N° Cows Milk (Kg) Fat (%) Protein (%)
1991 40483 4958 3,81 3,27
2002 50508 6081 3,90 3,42
Diff.2001/1991 +10025 + 1123 + 0,09 + 0,15

Milkrecording results.
In 2002, the increase in productivity registered a further notable increase of + 109 Kg of milk (compared with 2001), which brought the average production for this breed to 6081 Kg, 3.90% fat and 3.42% protein. For the annual production of all cows, the average has been increased to 6078 Kg, 3.91% fat and 3.45% protein (AIA data).
It must not be forgotten that these results were achieved with a very low ratio of N° cows/herd, and which were often located in mountainous regions. It would not be an exaggeration to say that such an improvement is superior to even the most expectations, and may be compared with the achievements of the most widespread Italian breeds. What is more, these breeds have the possibility of choosing the cattle for unique sole aim of producing milk and may choose the mothers of the bulls from a controlled population which is far larger than our own.
For a breed such as the Italien Simmental, which tries to improve more than one Trait at the same time, such a result makes us extremely proud, but above all our farmers must be even more proud, since they are the people who have made such a result possible.
In 2002, the best 60 farms produced an average of 8718 Kg of milk with 3.95% fat and 3.51% protein, in spite of keeping their structure to a small/medium size (27 cattle) and with most of them located in mountainous regions. This just goes to show that the real productive potentiality of the breed has yet to be fully exploited.


Year   Lactation per year
Closed Lactation Cows present all year All cows
Milk Gr. % Pr. % Milk Gr. % Pr. % Milk Gr. % Pr. %
1996 5310 3,88 3,39 5242 3,91 3,41 5415 3,90 3,41
1997 5461 3,89 3,39 5369 3,92 3,39 5535 3,91 3,39
1998 5679 3,94 3,37 5585 4,01 3,38 5771 4,00 3,37
1999 5802 3,96 3,37 5629 3,92 3,40 5825 3,92 3,39
2000 5869 3,89 3,37 5698 3,91 3,40 5890 3,90 3,40
2001 5972 3,89 3,39 5784 3,92 3,44 5969 3,91 3,43
2002 6081 3,90 3,42 5852 3,92 3,46 6078 3,91 3,45
Diff. 02/01 +109 + 0,01 +0,03 +68 = +0,02 +109 = +0,02

The Italian Simmental is very adaptable because it was born in a very hard area, the Swiss Alps, and a large part of Italian Simmental are reared in difficult, mountainous areas. The fact they may be found in every continent just goes to show how the breed is extremely adaptable.
The possibility of selecting sires from various countries and, above all, blood lines which are extremely different one from another, helps to preserve the breed from weaknesses which are typical of populations subject to marked blood-relations. Infact Italian Simmental uses the best Germany, Austrian and French blood’s lines. Furthermore the muscolarity and fat of our animals, and a different mobilization of fat’s reserves, by comparison with only milk production breeds, let the Italian Simmental utilizes its body as “energy reserve”. Genetic variability, energy reserves and a flat lactation curve explain the greater fertility and the larger desease’s resistance of theese animals. Diseases such as BLAD, WEAVER’s Disease, Mule’s Foot, spinal marrow problems etc. which are becoming more and more of a problem with other breeds, are unknown in Italian Simmental. Difficult labour and births are also infrequent, while abomasum dislocations are almost unheard of. To sum up, we may clearly affirm that farmers consider it a very robust breed, resistant to a wide range of farming conditions and which, even under the most harsh conditions, because of its combined use for milk and meat production, lets the farmer balance his accounts.

Cheese yield
With 3.42% protein and 3.91% fat (closed lactation, 2002 AIA data), the Italian Simmental demonstrates its exceptional dairy properties. In this case too, in the best farms, where the unifeed technique is applied and where the energy value of the feed is high, it is quite common to find cattle herdswith an average of 3.60% protein.
Recently, a large number of farmers in the Parmisan area and in the Po Plain regions have realised its importance, and have seen that the Italian Simmental is a breed which is suitable for insertion in cattle herds with other breeds in order to increase the "value" of the milk.
The frequency of the genotype B of the K casein is extremely high, which leads to a higher cheese yield and, therefore, immediate earnings for those who carry out direct transformation of the milk.

Lower rate of mastitis, with a resulting lower content of somatic cells!
At the moment, there is no official data available regarding the average value of somatic cells present in each breed, even though the Italian simmental, as shown in studies carried out in Italy and by a number of foreigner researchers, has an undeniable resistance to mastitis compared with other breeds.
If we consider that in the payment formulas used for milk, the number of cells is becoming an increasingly important parameter, so it is easy to understand how this characteristic has a strong influence on the farmer’s income.
We would like to remind farmers that the law has imposed that milk must be delivered with a number of somatic cells lower than 400,000 units.

Easy to manage = fertility
Even in those where farms the milk production is heavily "pushed", the post-conception period is less than 100 days on average, while the interval between each birth is less than 390 days. This means that more milk will be produced during the animal’s working life, which means more income for the farmer.
The average value of the interval between conception and birth (in days) for the Italian Simmental, apart from being unaltered as the years go by, is very favourable.
Animals which have an inherently calm and tranquil character are also easier to milk.
The weaning of the calves DOES NOT CREATE any kind of problem. The data contained in the AIA Control Bulletin for the year 2002 states that the average time between birth and conception is only 96 days (compared with an average value of the entire cattle population which is subject to control of 124 days).
In the last 10 years, this value has remained more or less constant (the AIA 1992 period between birth and conception was equal to 91 days). This value is extremely important from an economical point of view because, even in North America, numerous research studies have shown that the maximum production in the working life of cattle is during those periods between birth and conception which do not exceed 110-115 days. In fact, with periods which exceed 13 months between one birth and another, the lactation period is longer but the average daily yield is lower, along with longer periods which precede the dry period. As is well known, the average production of milk is lower compared with the first months after the birth.
In a herd with a good fertility rate there will also be a number of calves, with a higher chance of carrying out selection, apart from an obviously lower cost for the purchase of insemination material.
Put in simple monetary terms, if the period between birth and conception is higher than 110 days, there will be an increase in milk production costs equal to approximately 1 cent per litre.

Meat production
The thing that makes it so different to other milk breeds is the production of MEAT, which leads to a further income for the farmer, and this is particularly felt in those mountainous zones where livestock farming is more difficult, but where this activity is often the only one which leads to a decent income.
Italian Simmental calves reach a price at weaning which is practically DOUBLE that of other milk breeds. In recent years, various farmers, because of the milk quota policies, have thought about fattening the male animals produced on the farm in order to increase the income. Fatted calves of the Italian Simmental breed are highly regarded on the market and they will be even more appreciated when the payment system for meat is even more heavily influenced, as already takes place in the rest of Europe, by the EUROP grid. With regards to this matter, we may confidently say that Italian Simmental cattle is collocated between R+ and R. The average daily increase of fatted calves is between approximately 1350 and 1450 g/day. As every body knows, the selection for this characteristic is carried out at the Performance - test Centre and, in the last year, the average daily gain (IGM) of all the bulls present was 1345 g/day. This value was considerably higher (1457 g/day) in those animals selected for artificial insemination, which are also those which have a heavy influence on the entire population. The EUROP classification of the bulls to be sent to the slaughter house (which is also the worst) was R.
It must be highlighted that these results were obtained by using a feed regime which was certainly not exaggerated, in that the final objective was to have animals for artificial insemination which, as is known, in order to produce a large quantity of semen, must not be too fat.
Having said this, we may safely state that, in spite of highly increasing the amount of milk, we are also striving to preserve the meat function of our breed. Even the cows, at the end of their productive life, reach a value which is considerably higher than that of other breeds.
It must not be forgotten that Simmental calves are highly sought after by cattle fatteners, who usually import them from Germany, Austria and Eastern European countries.
On a lot of Italian and foreign farms, there is an increasing tendency to use Italian Simmental cows to wet-nurse 2 or 3 calves. This is due to the high capacity of the breed to wean several calves, even of different breeds, due to its extraordinary motherly instinct.


BRUSCHETTA IT VI 101380 (PROL * RADICIO), Miglior lattazione n. 3 in 305 giorni. 9136 Kg – 3.73 % gr. – 3.49 % pr., Proprietario: DIDONE’ ANTONIO – Rosà (VI), Bovina fotografata al 6° parto, in occasione della Fiera del Bovino da latte di Cremona

IDA IT030000313045 (POSEIDONE * STRUCCO), Miglior lattazione n.2 in 265 giorni. 8434 Kg – 4,01% gr. – 3,42 % pr., Proprietario: PAGANI DANIELE – Lestizza (UD)


© 2013 World Simmental Fleckvieh Federation