Dairy cattle breeds
French Simmental

Troupeau Simmental en Isère
Troupeau Simmental en Isère - Crédit : Simmental France
Summary of the article

 Traits and performances

The Simmental is one of the most popular breeds in the world, counting 40 million heads worldwide. Europe uses its dual-purpose milk/beef performance abilities, whereas it features essentially used as a beef breed in the rest of the world.

Although the Simmental was originally established in the Eastern France, the last 20 years have seen it spread across the rest of the country, especially the Massif Central and the Aveyron where it produces virtually all the dairy input to Protected Designation of Origin (Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée – AOC) Laguiole cheese.

With a low somatic cell count and a good protein-to-fat ratio, Simmental milk is ideally suited to cheese industries.

Simmental owes much of its popularity to its dual-purpose: the beef output can offer farmers a whole source of incomes due to the excellent carcass yields of young bulls and the good conformation of cull cows.

Under intensive dairy farming systems, Simmentals offer content-rich milk and good percent yield at slaughter that together offset the dairy productivity. However, it is under extensive farming systems that the Simmental really excels, as it can consume large amounts of low-quality forage yet still produce well-balanced, content-rich milk.


The Simmental breeding program is designed to consolidate the dual-purpose profile with good dairy performances.

The improvement effort primarily focused on at least maintaining if not improving the milk content figures.

Functional traits are equally important, as fertility, longevity and somatic cell count are all breed assets that need to be conserved.

Close to a dozen bulls are subject to progeny testing every year in France, but the French offer is further enhanced by using elite bulls from breeding programs of other European countries that, like Germany, share the same beef/dairy dual-purpose selection objectives.


Key figures

  • 26,051 cows
  • 840 farms
  • 16,975 cows under milk recording system
  • 10,468 cows recorded in the Herd Book
  • 44,022 artificial inseminations
  • Height at withers (adult cow): 140 to 150 cm
  • Adult cow weight:
    700 to 800 kg
  • Adult bull weight:
    1,000 to 1,250 kg
  • Young-bull carcass weight:
    350 to 380 kg
  • Milk yield: 7,187kg
  • Milk yield: 6,303kg
  • Fat content: 3.98 %
  • Crude protein content: 3.53 %

Official milk recording results 2014 - Mature equivalent milk yield - Institut de l’Elevage & France Conseil Elevage