Increased demand for the Simmental breed has some record averages and strong clearance rates at society sales, according to breed president Stewart Stronach, Keith.

Opening the society’s 51st annual report for the 2020/2021 year, Mr Stronach, said the Stirling Bull sales in February saw a record breed sale average of £6482 (+£1443 on the year), and a top price of 26,000gns – the second highest price for a Simmental bull sold at auction.

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Averages also improved significantly at the October sales in 2020, when the largest number of any breed saw Simmental bulls cash in at £5589 (+£411 on the year).

This was followed at Worcester and Stirling in May with more record averages at £4987.50 (+£977.50) and £5345 (+£510), respectively.

“We’ve seen a strong demand for Simmental store and breeding cattle in commercial sales," said Mr Stronach. "The breed is naturally efficient, producing fertile and milky females which are easy to handle, as well as the extra growth in easy fleshing calves.”

Mr Stronach’s report highlights that whilst the breed is known for its maternal qualities, the SRUC and AHDB’s National Beef Evaluations has shown Simmental to be the UK’s No 1 continental beef breed for age at slaughter.

“Green credentials and a reduced carbon footprint are going to be big factors in the forward beef industry both in suckler and dairy beef. This ability in age at slaughter, coupled with weight for age, producing beef from grass, and advantages in growth rate, can define the Simmental breed in delivering a green beef product with increased profitability.”

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With the aim of meeting the needs of the commercial producer, the report also highlights the ‘significant’ genetic progress the breed has made in breed averages over the last 20 years for both Self Replacing and Terminal Indexes.

A stated aim in the report is to build on the established sale base of the breed and develop pedigree sales in England. In addition to the potential at the Worcester Sale in May, a further sale fixture was introduced at Melton Mowbray in March of this year.

Financial statements for the year the society has announced a surplus on the year of £105,000, and inclusive of a figure of £57,000 in unrealised investment gains. The total fund balances/financial reserves of the society at the end of the year are shown as £877,569. The figures for the year are noted as being inclusive of over £20,000 in expenditure on the Society’s transition of its DNA services from Microsatellite (MS) to Single Nucleotide Polymorphism (SNP) technology.

“The society’s finances are solid in a period of some transition and with good budgeting will allow for the society to continue to carry out its core herd book, promotional and technical work. The year’s figures do need to be put in context with the expenditure around shows and sales in the year significantly reduced and again due to the Covid circumstance”.

In other snapshot highlights in the report, the growing export market for Simmental genetics is noted with live animals, semen, and embryos having sold in the year to markets in Australia, Germany, Switzerland, China, USA, and Italy respectively. Also reported is the 2021 ‘Virtual’ Simmental Show with this online competition having had a remarkable entry of over 750 pedigree Simmentals animals across 12 classes.