According to many historians within the dairy industry, the Brown Swiss otherwise known as Braunvieh cattle are one of the oldest cattle breeds in existence today.
The breed was originally developed in Switzerland’s north end regions. Fossils discovered within the ruins of the Swiss lake inhabitants indicates the breed to have been around during the period of 4000 BC showing a distinctive resemblance to the skeleton structure of the Brown Swiss Cows seen today.
Documented records additionally shows the Benedictine Monks of the Einsiedeln Monastery bred the Brown Swiss Cattle for over 1000 years.
The Schwyzer or commonly referred to as the Brown Schwyzer was one of the earlier canton breeds of the Brown Swiss cattle developed in Switzerland.
Prior to 1860 cattle breeds in Switzerland were found to be too small to meet the requirements of cattle owners and consumers. This resulted in the purchasing of much larger breeds from Germany with the hopes to improve the current breeds of cattle within Switzerland. These developed breeds were known as the cantons.
This is one of the main reasons why the Brown Swiss cows to be known as the Braunvieh or German brown cattle. During the 18th and 19th centuries the breed spread quickly across Europe and were successfully exported to foreign countered in the 1900’s including the United States of America.
The World Expo which took place in Paris of 1856 and London of 1862 saw the introduction and exhibition of the German brown cattle. Farmers within the United Stated who attended these exhibitions were desperately in search of finding an adaptable and fully capable breed to meet their requirements within the United States.
Later a man by the name of Henry M. Clark who was from the city of Belmont in Massachusetts within the United States purchased seven cows and one bull from a farmer in Switzerland by the name of Gottileb Burgi.
The success of this purchase was followed by several other exports to the United States where the breeds were specifically selected for their ability to produce excellent milk. However the Braunvieh breeds which were found in Germany and Europe served a dual purpose than their counterparts found within the Unites States.
These breeds were bred not only for their excellent milk making abilities but also for their superb meat quality. It was not until the ending of the Second World War was the German brown cattle bred for the additional purpose of meat in the United States.
Many people have often been confused as to the difference between the Braunvieh and Brown Swiss cattle. Documented fact and observations note that the Brown Swiss dairy cattle were developed from the Braunvieh breed of beef cattle.
The Braunvieh breeds were seen as having excellent milk and supply of beef. Animal breeders later began breeding the best milk producers of the Braunvieh cows which resulted in the development of the Brown Swiss Dairy Cattle several generations later.
The Brown Swiss breeds are light brown in their appearance with a cream like white muzzle and a dark nose. The dark-blue pigmentation within it’s eyes serves as a means of protecting the breed from instances of extreme levels of solar radiation.
Swiss cattle are bred horned and polled, which is indicated by their characteristically of short white horns growing towards the top of their head. The bodies are robust in nature and are noted as a prolific breeder with an extended life cycle. They are easily adaptable, docile and strong breeds with good bone structure and hooves.
The country of Switzerland which is observed as the origin home of the Brown swiss is characteristically defined with rough and mountainous regions covering a total area of over 16,000 square miles.
The area of productive land space however is only approximately 7 to 8 million acres of which more than half is used for for pasture and the storage of hay. Switzerland has been renown for it’s ability in producing excellent quality cheese as their dairy cattle herds are taken into the mountainous areas for grazing during the summer seasons on the lush and abundant pastures resulting from the heavy rainfall.
The genetic sequence used to successfully produce the American Brown Swiss breeds was imported into Europe in the 1960’s which was used to breed the European Brown Swiss breeds which today constitutes the majority of the population respective to cattle breeds.
Surveys conducted within the United States Today shows the average Brown Swiss breed as producing over 22,000 pounds of milk on a 305 production day, and responsible for supplying over 900 pounds of fat, and 730 pounds of protein value to the consumers.
With a suitable background origin of exposure to harsh terrain and climatic conditions, the developed breed of Brown Swiss cattle has become works renown for it’s several remarkable characteristics. This has led this breed to be recognized as the second largest source of dairy milk in the world with over a population of 8 million breeds estimated at a value of more than 14 million dollars a head.
The United States in 1880 formed an association dedicated to the development of the Brown Swiss breed. This association was and still today is known as the Brown Swiss Cattle Breeders Association of the United States.
With a registration of over 10,000 animals and serving well over 1800 members both adult and junior capacities, this body is governed by a board of directors consisting of 10 member elected from and within it’s current membership.
Their mission over the years has been funded by their quest to expand the breeding programs respective to the Brown Swiss breeds to enhance the membership and industry to a competitive status in favor of the current market to secure a brighter future.
Breeders within the United Stated and other countries have generally been built upon from a rich cattle based heritage to ensure the development of a worldwide requirement for their cattle observed at the various Expos and commercial dairy farms.
Some of the popular breeders can be located at:
- Voegeli Farm Inc.
- The Brown Swiss Cattle Breeders Association of New Zealand
- Brown Swiss Cattle Breeders Association of the USA
This association was formed on February 13th 1973 as a method through which the Brown Swiss breed would be introduced to the New Zealand farmer.
How ever it was not until 1974 that the required semen from the Brown Swiss breed would be made available which resulted in the first set of half-breeds the following year.