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Brown Swiss

The Brown Swiss are solid brown or grey-brown, medium-sized, medium-weighted and horned cattle. The bulls are usually darker than the cows. The horn tips, the muzzle and the claws are dark pigmented. The area around the muzzle and the eyes is of a lighter colour. The Brown Swiss have a fine skeleton and are well muscled.

Braunvieh Kalbinnen im Gebirge

Direction of use

The Brown Swiss can be used for dairy fitness breeding, for crossbreeding with dairy and beef breeds and for beef breeding (Original Braunvieh). They are characterized by their hard hoofs and good ankles and are suitable for all production conditions worldwide.

Therefore the Brown Swiss are found in intensive and extensive types of production (suitable for pasture and loose housing).

The current breeding goal consists of 48% milk, 5% beef and 47% fitness. The required performance level in milk is ten times the bodyweight and a tight fat-protein ratio at a high level. The breeding work concentrates on the fitness traits such as fertility, ease of calving (95% normal calving), longevity and lactation persistence.  

Statistics & Distribution

  • Austria: 140,000 animals
  • Breed proportion: 7% (28.1% on alpine pastures)

The distribution of this race extends over wide areas of the Alps and pre-Alps. Due to the high milk performance and the good adaptability, this breed is almost spread worldwide. The main breeding areas are the Allgäu in Germany and the East of Switzerland.


Ø Milk performance: 7,132 kg – 4.16% F – 3.45% P (305 days)

Ø Beef performance:

  Daily weight gain (g)
  200 days 365 days
M 1.159,20 974,8
F 1.039,40 833,1

Control Farms (Herds): 5,467

Height (cm, Ø): 147

Weight (kg, Ø): 700

Animals in control farms: 112,140

Registered cows: 51,487

Origin: Central Switzerland  


600 years ago: Start of breeding work in central Switzerland

(The monastery of Einsiedeln in the Schwyz canton had the best-known breed)

1870: First milk performance tests, Export of animals to North America and breeding concentrates on larger animals with an improved milk yield (Brown Swiss)

1960s: Significant improvement of the foundation and milkability of the European Brown Swiss

2011: Since December 13th, genomically optimized breeding values are official for all Brown Swiss animals