The Simbra Breed

Dr. Johan Kluyts

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Introduction

The Simbra breed is one of the numerically strongest, largest and most popular breeds of cattle in Southern Africa. This is a remarkable achievement in view of the fact that the breed has only been registered in Southern Africa for a relatively short period of time. Although American breeders have worked on the Simbra idea since 1960, the Simmentaler Society only decided in 1985/1986 to develop the Simbra concept. Simbra was only declared a developing breed in the Government Gazette on 11 December 1987. The popularity and performance of the Simbra can be attributed to various reasons.

Most synthetic breeds are raised from specific base breeds and has a system for upgrading. Occasionally, a synthetic breed has a system without specific base breeds, or the choice of base breeds was not fully considered. In some cases hybridisation occurs. Consequently, results do not always meet expectations. In the case of Simbra, however, the choice of base breeds was well considered, an effective system was established and it is driven by a dynamic and independent Society.

Choice of base breeds

The choice of base breeds are extremely important in the development of a synthetic breed. These breeds must be numerically strong in order to enhance selection possibilities. A broad inner breed gene pool will ensure enough variation to select the right

animals for a specific purpose and environment. The base breeds must differ widely to maximally utilise heterosis. The breeds must be able to compliment and supplement each other over a wide range of characteristics. The choice of Simmentaler and Brahman as the base breeds for the Simbra satisfy these requirements.

The ancestors of the current Simmentaler was the Bernese, a breed from the Simme valley in the Bern region of Switzerland. These animals were very popular in this cold, harsh mountain region, owing to excellent beef and milk production. They were also great draught animals. In 1806 the first herd book was created with a performance requirement for registration. From this valley, the Simmentaler spread across the world and is one of the most popular and numerically superior dual purpose breeds on earth today. The first Simmentalers were imported to Namibia in 1893 and to Southern Africa in 1905. Simmentaler was bred to adapt to our unique environment and remains the most popular dual purpose breed, the third most important beef breed and the fourth most important milk breed in Southern Africa.

The Brahman was developed in 1835, on the southern coastal plains of the USA near the Gulf of Mexico. The breed was developed from various Indian breeds, of which the Guzerat, Nelore and Gir were the most prominant. The area is described as subhumid and is ravaged by external and internal parasites. The first Brahman was imported to Namibia in 1953 and to Southern Africa in 1956. Brahman’s popularity has increased sharply and it is currently the second most important beef breed in Southern Africa.

It is clear that Simmentaler and Brahman were the best choices for the development of a new synthetic breed. Both have a wide gene pool, is numerically strong, differs significantly from each other and can supplement each other in a distinctive manner.

Simbra system

The purpose of the Simbra was to raise a breed that could adapt to the Southern African environment; not only the physical environment, but also the production systems and market requirements. To achieve this goal, the milk and beef production capacity of the Simmentaler was combined with the adaptability, disease resistance and hardiness of the Brahman. In view of the popularity of the Simbra, the plan was highly successful.

The Simbra breed development programme is kept as simple as possible to make it easy for new and aspiring breeders. An open herd book allows the continued recording of new first generation compositae. This ensures genetic variation and facilitates easy adaptation to changing environments and requirements. As much heterosis as possible is maintained, especially in later generations. This is done by using many sires in the programme, limiting inbreeding and keeping large herds. Breeders actively participate in performance testing and strive for optimal performance in various economically important properties. 

Breed Society
The Simmentaler and Simbra Cattle Breeder’s Society of Southern Africa is a dynamic and independent Society. It is currently the largest Society in Southern Africa, in terms of membership. The Society is in a strong financial position and offers many unique services to members. These services include an annual visit to the herd of every member by one of the Society’s Technical Advisors, accredited consultants. During this visit useful information and knowledge are shared with breeders. This service is invaluable, especially for new and young breeders. The staff members of the Society is extremely qualified with years of experience. This ensures that all the core and other services of the Society are performed effectively. The breeder family in the Society is intelligent, well informed, purposeful and usually prominent members of the community.

In Conclusion
Simbra delivers optimal performance in a number of economically important properties, which satisfies the needs of commercial breeders, feedlots and the end user. The Simbra system uses and manages the genetic resources of two unique base breeds as effectively as possible. Risk is reduced as a result of the adaptability of both the breed and the system, a large gene pool, open herd book, as well as compulsory inspection and selection. The breed, as part of a large Society, is economically viable and very profitable, thanks to excellent production and low input costs. Simbra and the Simbra system are socially acceptable because it can be managed and controlled with ease, and because it is based on logical and scientifically founded principles.

It is clear from this short overview that Simbra satisfies all the requirements (best base breeds, unique system, dynamic Society and breeders) to be a successful breed; a breed that can make a significant contribution to the Southern African beef cattle industry.

Simbra is indeed The Complete All-rounder

Twelve reasons to persuade you to breed with Simbra!

1)  Become a breeder of one of the fastest growing breeds of cattle in Southern Africa.
2)  You will be visited once a year by one of our technical advisors during which the selection of replacement heifers, reproduction status of the herd, selection of the right bulls
      and genetic progress will be discussed.
3)  Purchase animals (with the assistance of technical advisors) and/or begin by presenting your own Simbra type cow for inclusion as an F1 cum.
4)  A very large gene pool and genetic variations are available.
5)  We as a society have a focused, practical breeding programme with an open herdbook approach.
6)  Which Simbra breed combination? The breeder himself decides which Simmentaler/Brahman breed combination will perform the best in his specific environment.
7)  Multi-bull matings can be used in the breeding of F1 and F2.
8)  Technical Advisors evaluate all the animals on a farm before the registration of animals can take place. Evaluation is based on physical appearance and breeding values.
9)  You will enjoy voluntary participation in the world’s most advanced beef cattle performance testing system.
10)  Pedigrees, breeding value, genetic indices, general information and much more is available at www.simbra.org
11)  You will have the opportunity to breed with two breeds at the cost of one membership.
12)  Your registration, performance and annual visit to a herd of 100 animals by a technical advisor is less than one and a half culled weaners per year.

 

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