Origin of Breed

With records dating back to 800 B.C., Braunvieh may be the oldest pure breed on Earth. Recently, archeologists have found cattle bones among the ruins of the ancient Swiss Lake Dwellers that are similar to those of the present day Braunvieh. This would date these cattle to the Bronze Age.

Over 12 types of brown cattle could be found in the mountains of Switzerland during the 1600’s. Braunvieh itself is a German word, meaning “Brown Cattle.” All 12 types varied in type and size, which undoubtedly formed the foundation for today’s Braunvieh. These cattle have been exported throughout the world including Western Europe, former eastern block countries and Russia in order to improve the quality of cattle in the region. In Europe, the Braunvieh are still primarily used for milk production

Braunvieh are also called Brown Mountain, Brune des Alpes, Bruna alpina, Grey-Brown Mountain, and Swiss Brown.

Physical Description

The moderately framed cattle are predominately mousy brown, but range from light brown with gray to very dark brown. The borders of the muzzle and poll are very light. The udder, inside of the legs and underline are also a lighter shade. Darker, smokier shading is often evident around the shoulders and neck compared to the rest of the body. The switch of the tail ranges from dark brown to black. The muzzle is colored black and the hooves are dark and very hard.

Mature bulls weight around 2,100 to 2,500 pounds and mature females range from 1,200 to 1,500 pounds. Steers at optimum slaughter weight are 1,100 pounds at 13 months of age.

Defining Characteristics

Braunvieh are known for their docility, maternal capabilities and their adaptability. They are easy to work with which reduces risk and additional costs for an operation. Their maternal capabilie include calving ease and high weaning weights of offspring. Their adaptability and longevity allow for the production of more calves per lifetime. According to USDA’s Meat Animal Research Center data, Braunvieh calves have the highest rate of survival (95.1%) from birth to weaning of all Continental and Bos Indicus breeds tested.

Their natural thickness and depth of these animals perform well both in the pasture and on the rail. Many cattlemen have noticed the success of Braunvieh-cross calves and it certainly has captured their attention. Today, Braunvieh are increasingly incorporated into operations all of the country.

Development in America

Approximately 130 head of Braunvieh were imported into USA from Switzerland between the years of 1869 and 1880. These animals formed the scope for the development of the American Brown Swiss. American Brown Swiss has since spread to Canada, Mexico and other Latin countries.

In the mid-1900’s, they were imported by Mexico, where they have flourished as a beef breed. They are used in commercial settings to upgrade the beef characteristics of Zebu cattle. In Mexico, they are sometimes referred to as European Type Brown Swiss.

In 1968, Canada imported the first modern Braunvieh, a bull called Aron. As a result, many additional bulls and females were imported directly into Canada in several importations from Europe between 1968 and 1985. In Canada, Braunvieh are registered by the Canadian Brown Swiss Association and are referred to as Beef Brown Swiss. Many breeders in Canada are members of the Braunvieh Association of America and some of their cattle are registered in the United States.

Original Swiss Braunvieh were imported directly from Switzerland in 1983 (for the first time since 1880) by Harlan Doeschot of Firth, Nebraska. Since 1983, a significant exchange of breeding stock had taken place between Canadian and American breeders.

Registry and Improvement Programs

The Braunvieh Association of America (BAA) was organized and incorporated in 1984. The BAA provides their members with full registrations and transfers, helpful resources, upcoming sales, junior shows, and a junior association. Their headquarters are in Lincoln, NE.