About Brown Swiss

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German Brown Swiss

The German Brown Swiss is a dual purpose breed with strong focus on milk performance. Besides the milk production and the udder composite a special emphasis is put on the adaption qualities, longevity and the solid feet and legs of the Brown Swiss cow. The Brown Swiss is highly adaptable to diverse geographical regions of milk production such as mountainous areas, extreme climates and forage conditions or tropical environments and as well adaptable to intensive systems. The favorable composition of the milk protein, especially for cheese making are considered in the breeding as well.

The excellent adaptability and docile character of the Brown Swiss cows contributes to making your daily work with the animals just fun! The modern Brown Swiss type combines environmental sustainability and profitability in an ideal way!

The German Brown Swiss population in figures:

  • 369.215 heads of Brown Swiss cattle
  • 170.111 Brown Swiss dairy cows
  • 152.375 Brown Swiss cows under milk recording
  • that's 90% of all Brown Swiss cows
  • 129.494 Brown Swiss cows registered in herd book
  • > 80 test sires per year

German Brown Swiss are specialized dairy cows with an outstanding lifetime milk production. The breed perfectly balances milk quantity and quality. Milk from Brown Swiss cattle has high butterfat content (4%) and is high in protein (3.5 to 3.8%) making Brown Swiss the N°1 breed for protein in Germany. Their milk is also unique from other breeds as it demonstrably gives a high cheese yield due to Kappa-Casein BB. Furthermore Brown Swiss has a high share of Beta Casein A2/A2 sires.

Average milk production of Brown Swiss in Germany:

  Number Milk kg Fat % Fat kg Protein % Protein kg
Cows under milk recording 152.375 7.665 4,22 324 3.61 277
Cows registered in herdbook 130.418 7.826 4,22 330 3.62 283

(Source BRS, 2019)

When looking at the milk production of the Brown Swiss cows in Germany one has to keep in mind that 80% of all Brown Swiss cows are kept under extensive conditions or in organic farms. Under intensive conditions the milk production of Brown Swiss cows is considerably higher.

Due to its robustness and excellent feed conversion Brown Swiss is excellently suited for grazing systems.

Regarding longevity Brown Swiss is the leading breed. According to the statistics of the BRS (German Livestock Association), in the year 2018 Brown Swiss cows were slaughtered with an average lifetime production of 29.779kg milk at an age of 47.0 months. Brown Swiss cows thus remain in their barns for almost one year longer than the average dairy cow in Germany.

The increasing longevity of the Brown Swiss cows leads to the fact that more and more cows reach the benchmark of 100.000kg milk of lifetime production.

Brown Swiss are known as late maturing breed. The animals keep growing during the 1st and 2nd lactation and reach their full potential in later lactations. These qualities contribute to the robustness and longevity of the breed.

Originating from the European Alps, Brown Swiss adapt well to high altitudes and hot or cold climates. In the cradle of Brown Swiss breeding with its adverse climatic conditions the excellent qualities of the breed were consolidated over decades and last to this day. On the mountain pastures already the young cattle have to walk long distances on uneven ground and thus the breed developed strong and sound feet and legs. A background of extreme terrain and weather has produced a cattle breed that is recognized for being hardy and rugged all over the world.

The German Brown Swiss breeding program makes every effort to keep bloodlines as varied as possible. By the use of alternative bloodlines and mating programs it was possible to keep the inbreeding coefficient of the German Brown Swiss population on a moderate level in the past decade in spite of the strong breeding progress which was achieved at the same time.

The German Brown Swiss breeding program includes more than 157.000 Brown Swiss cows under milk recording and thus counts on a reliable data base. In addition to that the type evaluation is done by state officials which guarantees completely independent results and keeps off any influence from economic interests of breeding companies. The A.I studs Greifenberg, Memmingen and Herbertingen together carry out genomic tests of about 1.450 Brown Swiss bulls annually and only 5.6% are finally selected for the A.I. industry. Several young sires are co-tested in other countries to get comparable results in different environments. Also the bull dams are selected very carefully. Young heifers of the next generation who promise an advanced genetic progress are used as well as older cows which have definitely proven their qualities over the years. Last but not least the best genetics from all over the world are introduced into the German population to keep he balance of performance, type traits and fitness.


Total Merit Index

The composition of the Total Merit Index reflects the breeding aim of Brown Swiss. It sets a focus on milk performance and fitness.

Milk 50% + Fitness 45% + Beef 5%

The positive characteristics have led to a steady rising number of farms using German Brown Swiss sires in crossbreeding with other dairy breeds. The F1 generation shows an extraordinary vitality, levels up the protein content in the milk and gives easy handling cows. In the second crossbred generation the type comes closer to the purebred Brown Swiss type.