The Simbra Breed
Dr. Johan Kluyts
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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.
is indeed The Complete All-rounder
Twelve reasons to
persuade you to breed with Simbra!
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
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.