The Herd Generally
The basis of our herd is obviously from Southern African genetics which includes Namibia and Zimbabwe. We select for moderately higher frame score animals than is the case with South African Simmentalers of today. In recent years in studying pedigrees back into the 1950s, it is obvious that many of the great cow families are still in the Simmental herds both here and in countries far removed from the cradle of the breed in the Alpine border areas of Switzerland, Austria and Germany which have developed tremendous beefy types. Our herd has changed to be more inclusivist of any cow families that show early maturing traits and accept the breed owes a debt to the original Celtic tribes around the 4th century AD that spread out into northern Europe and the British Isles and took their cattle with them. The bloodlines we have today of course include many newly developed polled Fleckvieh Canadian and USA cow families. In more recent times we have added bloodlines from the Czech Republic, Denmark, Norway, Ireland and the UK.
The geology at “KOKOMO” home of Knox Farms is heavy red basalt soils, being an old potato growing farm of 500 hectares. A better than average rainfall at an altitude of 1,000 metres helps us to have strong pasture and a cropping program. We are not alone in always culling hard to keep a superior base herd, but of course IVF and ET demand good recipient cattle with plenty of milk. Knox Farms primary purpose in breeding is to select for width and depth to chase the early maturing types. We don’t cull horned or no eye pigment or absoluteness in colour. However, like everyone else, calving ease, good udders and temperament is selected. We play to our strengths which is having a far greater diversity in bloodlines than most other breeders. Record keeping on calving ease and weighing our herd regularly apart from 200, 400, and 600 day weights which are breed standard measurements, is a continuing enlightening process.
The Ideal Cow
It is a very common mistake to make in thinking that having great bulls makes for a great uniform herd. This is not correct for the most obvious reason we see in motherly women rearing healthy children. At our home we have a bronze sculpture of a Simmental cow and calf. The inscription on the wooden base has a plaque which says: “The Cow makes the Difference”. We have always thought that milk and muscle together and structural soundness of specific breeding cow families makes for exceptionally early maturity in weaners in our breed.
It would be a fair personal view to say our observation of what other breeds, such as Limousin, Charolais, Angus both red and black and Holstein are doing does give us good guidance of what not to do. In breeding and trying to please to get a ‘Black’ or ‘Red’ look-alike Angus is a self-defeating battle of basic mathematics, because if you get a premium for these sorts of cattle that are a certain colour, but are 150 kgs lighter than Original/Traditional Simmental Fleckvieh at weaning age, or even worse at 400 day weights, the mathematics of the brain is on malfunction. Our performance criteria are that you breed from not just great cow families but have muscular frames nearer to a frame-score 7 for bulls that are polled and easy calving, grow rapidly on mother’s milk and keep growing on grass, silage or our own stored ration of harvested crops.
Horned or Polled (PP or Pp)
Knox Farms believes that the progression to a totally polled Simmental Fleckvieh animal is inevitable because of animal rights activist antagonism, the Vegan movement and the move already to a chickpea alternative to red meat. Knox Farms has both horned and polled cattle, with a bias to polled PP cattle. However, the genetics from the past of Simmental Fleckvieh were always horned. It is a slow and rewarding way forward to achieve our aim.