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Brown Swiss

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Last updated date: 24th Jul 2024
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Brown Swiss Cattle

The Brown Swiss cattle span between medium to large in size. Their coat is generally a light grayish brown (but differs from nearly white to gray or dark brown. There may contain some shading in the coat, with the forequarters most commonly darker than the legs and hind parts. Their muzzle is black, circled with creamy white.

The average live body weight of mature brown Swiss cows is between 590 to 640 kg. And the average live body weight of mature bulls is about 900 kg. And the average live body weight of the newly born calf is about 40 kg.

Take a glance at a brown swiss dairy cow in the below diagram:-

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Brown Swiss Milk Production

Brown Swiss cow milk production is quite favoured and popular across different parts of the world. The brown Swiss cow breed of dairy cattle is raised chiefly for the purpose of milk production. It is quite a preferred and prominent breed and found in many countries across the world. And it is popular mainly for its milk production.

The modern Brown Swiss dairy cow is actually an American breed of dairy cattle, and it is also called American Brown Swiss. It is extracted from the traditional triple-purpose Braunvieh of the Alpine area of Switzerland (but has diverged significantly from it).

The Brown Swiss had been particularly bred for dairy qualities only, and its draft and beef abilities were lost. In 2013, Milk production was measured at 10231 kg per year. And milk of the cows comprises roughly 4% butterfat and about 3.5% protein. And the milk is very appropriate for making cheese.

The Brown Swiss cattle became a world breed in the 20th Century. The total global population is on approx 7 million head in 1990. The breed has been much utilized for cross-breeding and has persuaded a number of modern cattle breeds.

Uses of Brown Swiss Dairy Cow

  • The Brown Swiss cattle is basically a dairy cattle breed, and it is raised primarily for milk production purposes.

  • Milk of the cow is eccentric with longer-chain fatty acids than other well-known dairy breeds and smaller fat globules in the cream (this variance implies that cream rises much more steadily in milk from Brown Swiss cows)

  • This variance and proportion of protein to fat in the milk are excellent for cheese making.

  • The Brown Swiss cattle become very quiet and serene in nature. And the calf attains maturity later than other breeds.

  • Brown Swiss cow breeds are well adapted to their local climates but also do excellent in other parts of the world. This is the reason why presently this cattle breed is available in many countries across the world.

Scientific and Physical Description of Brown Swiss Cattle Breed



Other Names

American Brown Swiss

Breed Name

Brown Swiss, Brown Swiss Cow, Brown Swiss Dairy Cow

Breed Purpose


Breed Size

Medium to Large

Bull’s Weight       

900 kg

Cow’s Weight

600-640 kg

Coat Color

Generally pale brown

Special Reference

Very active, strong, and well adapted to local climates, do outstandingly in many countries



Climate Tolerance

All Climates



Milk Produce


Country/Place of Origin

Switzerland/United States

Origin of the Brown Swiss Cow Breed

With reference to the origin of the Brown Swiss Cow or Brown Swiss cattle, hence, first became notable among dairy breeds around 100 years ago. The exact date when this fashion came into the light is not definite, but it was periodically in the first half of the 19th century.

The Brown Swiss cow breed in the United States had been announced a dairy breed in 1906 and in 1907 a grading for Brown Swiss was offered at the National Dairy Show. Many writers have proposed that the breed is centuries old and that small-scale crossing with other breeds has been done for hundreds of years. As with respect to the origin of the other breeds of livestock, this inference seems to be more passionate than correct.

The Brown Swiss Cattle, as we are familiar with it in the United States presently, originated in the cantons of Lucerne, Schwyz, St. Gallen, Glarus, Zug, and Zurich of Switzerland. The canton of Schwyz was the scenario of most of the early enhancement, and in Switzerland, the breed is most commonly referred to as Brown Schwyzer. Crude cattle similar to the Brown Swiss are in this territory for a substantial period of time. All the cantons in which the breeds originated are colonized by German-speaking people, and seemingly vast cattle were brought in from Germany to enhance the cattle of Switzerland, which until around 1860 were commonly lacking in size. The brown cow is referred to as Braunvieh in German-speaking countries; Brunedes Alpes in France, Bruna Alpina in Italy, Pardo Suizo in Spain, and Latin America including Brazil.

Brown Swiss Habitat

Brown Swiss cattle live in various places throughout the globe, such as Switzerland, South Africa, Canada, New Zealand, and the United States. Owing to their history from Switzerland, Brown Swiss cows can endure both hot and cold weather extremes and oscillations, often hazardous, landscapes that make them desirable for agricultural uses.

The Pinzgaur Brown Swiss Cow Breed

The Pinzgaur breed, which is outwardly an inhabitant of Austria, appears to have been the breed from that country that was used in the enhancement of the Brown Swiss Cattle Breed. The foremost cattle of Schwyz in around 1860 were of chestnut to a dull black color, and the majority of the cattle were darker on their fore- and hind than of their bodies. Many of them displayed light-colored or light grayish blazes down their backs. This difference of color pattern has been seemingly introduced from the Pinzgau, and the Brown Swiss Cattle of the modern-day is apparently to have obtained the light dorsal stripe from these cattle brought in from Austria. Since no documents of the breed were maintained for a good many decades after the occurrence of the breed, it is altogether feasible that other cattle could have been used in the enhancement. Direct proof of such crosses is lacking.

Feet and Legs of Brown Swiss

Properly structured legs allies to hardened, strong, black, well-formed feet, that means Brown Swiss cattle possess no issues. Undoubtedly, this is one of the impeccable qualities which allow many Brown Swiss to continue producing in the herd until they attain the age of 12-15 years.

Strength and Hybrid Vigor of Brown Swiss

Brown Swiss cows are cattle of immense strength and substance. The experience of undergoing cows ‘slumps’ with metabolic issues or any other reason is scarce amongst Brown Swiss owners. Brown Swiss are well-known for their role when crossed with other dairy breeds or for that fact with beef breeds also, usually boosting the strength and production of the parent breed. This is quite perceptible throughout the world from the tropics to the alpine areas.

Braunvieh bulls are renowned for their testicular and scrotal development at a young age and are competent, fertile breeders at 12 to 14 months of age.

Lifespan of Brown Swiss

The longevity characteristic of the breed is quite obvious in the Brown Swiss. While the breed is disposed to be maturing later than other breeds, cows are inclined to reach their peak in 5th or later lactations. Some breeds find it trouble to reach this stage, however, the strength of the Brown Swiss enables them to pilot long productive lives.

Did You Know?

  • Brown Swiss cattle can be grey, tan or dark brown, or even nearly white in color. 

  • Their muzzle, hooves, and switch are generally black. They are most commonly noted for their docile temperament.

  • Conceivably the oldest of all dairy breeds, Brown Swiss cattle originated in the mountains, valleys, and slopes of Switzerland around 4000 B.C., as per some historians.

  • The world population of Brown Swiss Cattle breed is documented to be approximately 6 million, which ranks either first or second in the global population of dairy cattle. 

  • The Brown Swiss we see grazing throughout the United States countryside tumble down from initial importations of 25 bulls and 140 females from Switzerland.

  • There has been the tremendously minor promotion of the Brown Swiss breeds in its native country i.e. Switzerland although it has been exported to Germany, Italy, Russia and the United States, and various other countries where it has attained a prominent reputation.

  • Brown Swiss Cattle breed milk contains the closest protein/fat ratio of any dairy breed.


At present, the beautiful Brown Swiss Cattle can still be found throughout the globe, including in the United States, where the highest concentration is in Iowa, Ohio, and Wisconsin. 

FAQs on Brown Swiss

Q1. What is the History of the Brown Swiss Cattle Breed?

Answer: Most dairy historians provide their consent that Brown Swiss or (Braunvieh cattle) are the oldest of all dairy breeds. The alluring Brown Swiss cows were advanced in the north-eastern part of Switzerland. Bones found in the decays of Swiss lake inhabitants date back to possibly 4000 BC and contain some affinity to the skeleton of today's Brown Swiss cow. Documentary proofs exhibit that the Benedictine monks living at the Einsiedeln Monastery began breeding these cattle as early as about 1000 years ago. The canton of Schwyz was the scenario of most of the early enhancement of the Brown Swiss Cattle, and in Switzerland, the breed is commonly referred to as Brown Schwyzer.

Switzerland, the dweller of the Brown Swiss has a total area of about 15,940 square miles, with only about eight million acres of productive land of which one-half is utilized for hay and graze. Extreme terrain and weather yielded a cattle breed world recognized for many definitive characteristics. At present, the Brown Swiss is the second-largest dairy breed in the world with more than 8 million registered cattle and a world population of approximately 14 million head.

Switzerland has been noted as amongst the largest cheese-making country for many years, and in the summer many of the dairy herds are taken into the mountainous areas and are pastured on the profuse pastures and meadows that are consequent from the heavy rainfall.

Q2. How is Brown Swiss Associated With Braunvieh?

Answer: Many people are confused and refer to Braunvieh as Brown Swiss and seek to know the difference between the two. Brown Swiss dairy cattle breeds were for a fact developed from the Braunvieh beef cattle. Braunvieh was a tremendously beautiful milking beef breed and, many years ago, some animal breeders chose the best milking Braunvieh and started breeding these chosen individuals for milk production. After many generations, the dairy type was advanced, and hence the Brown Swiss dairy cattle.

All the cantons in which the breeds emancipated are dwelled by German-speaking people, and supposedly large cattle were brought in from Germany to enhance the cattle of Switzerland, which until about 1860 were commonly lacking in size. And for that reason, the Swiss Brown is also called Braunvieh.

Q3. What is the Significance of the Brown Swiss Cow in Agriculture?

Answer: On average, Swiss cows produce over 220,000 pounds of milk in a lifetime. Brown Swiss cattle produce high production of milk and cheese, and thus make brown Swiss cow milk production an ideal means. The fat to protein ratio makes it even more ideal for production. Moreover, being a top choice for milk production, brown Swiss cattle contain outstanding genetics to be used in meat production; having nearly 4% more weight per cow than competing breeds. However, Brown Swiss are raised usually for milk production, while a genetically similar breed, Braunvieh, is reared mostly for meat production.